Tyson Fury needed to dance with the most dangerous man in heavyweight boxing three times, with the third outing the most legendary, to finally put the rivalry to bed.
Fury knocked out Deontay Wilder in the eleventh round of their Las Vegas epic on Sunday (AEDT); a fight that saw both fighters knocked down multiple times before the WBC champion of the world found the killer blow.
A third fight that many in the boxing world didn’t even want to see — due to the ease in which Fury won the second — was ultimately the best heavyweight war we’ve seen in a very long time.
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Despite coming out with a calculated aggression, Wilder hit the deck in the third, and looked set for another early defeat. The sort that would have vindicated those that doubted the competitiveness of the match-up.
But Wilder has made a career — a successful one at that — out of betting he’ll land that big right hand. And that’s exactly what happened in the following round.
The fourth saw Fury taste canvas — twice — as Wilder found a home for his favourite weapon. But like he did in their classic first go-around back in 2018, Fury got up.
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And in the middle rounds, Fury was able to assert himself. Wilder looked gassed, and yet always one punch away from flipping the script. The hard-hitting former champion of the world ate right hand after right hand from Fury, and answered with his own bombs, before it eventually became too much.
Fury sent Wilder crashing back to the canvas in the 10th round. But that still wasn’t the end, as Wilder, who wanted to go out on his shield in the sequel, somehow got back to his feet.
No, the end came in the 11th as a looping Fury right hand with Wilder against the ropes saw the tall American timber finally topple as referee Russell Mora waved off the fight.
Fury was ahead on the scorecards 95-91 x 2, 94-92.
“You know, it was a great fight tonight — it was worthy of any trilogy in this history of the sport,” Fury said post-fight.
“You know, I’m not going to make any excuses; Wilder is a top fighter, he gave me a real run for my money tonight.
“I’ve always said, I’m the best in the world. And he’s the second best.”
The two heavyweights fought to a bruising draw in their first fight in Los Angeles in 2018, when Fury came back from the dead.
Fury then defeated Wilder in February last year via a seventh-round knockout that ended Wilder’s five-year reign as WBC champion.
Tyson Fury def. Deontay Wilder — via 11th round KO — WBC heavyweight championship
Frank Sanchez def. Efe Ajagba — via unanimous decision (98-91 x 2, 97-92) — heavyweight
Robert Helenius def. Adam Kownacki — via 6th round disqualification — heavyweight
Jared Anderson def. Vladimir Tereshkin — via 2nd round TKO — heavyweight