In an unforgettable heavyweight shootout that illustrated firepower and fortitude, WBC champion Tyson Fury twice rose from the canvas to gun down an incredibly game Deontay Wilder in the 11th round of a five-knockdown thriller at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Wilder was down in the third before dropping Fury twice in the fourth until the Gypsy King scored another knockdown in the 10th and finished proceedings in the 11th of a breathtaking fight.
Fury led 95-91, 95-92 and 94-92 on the cards at the time of the stoppage.
“I want to say thank you to my lord and saviour Jesus Christ. I give him the glory he gives me the victory,” said Fury afterwards. “I was down a couple of times, I was hurt, Wilder is a strong puncher.
“It was a great fight tonight. I will not make any excuses, Wilder is a top fighter, he gave me a run for my money. I always say I am the best fighter in the world and he is the second best.
“Don’t ever doubt me. When the chips are down I can always deliver.”
“I have proved time and again that I can never be written off,” Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) later told BT Sport. “I didn’t have my best performance but I pulled it out of the bag when it needed to be done.
“He did keep getting up but it was that final right hand to the side of the head that finished him. I wasn’t hurt. You get hit, you wake up on the floor. I got up and was very conscious the whole time. I was one punch away from knocking him out in the whole fight.
“I went over and said well done and he said he didn’t want to show any sportsmanship or respect. Very surprised by that. He’s an idiot. I pray for him. I am thankful that we all get out of the fight in one piece and get to go to our families.”
Former WBC king Wilder, who showed he still has a part to play in the division, was naturally deflated by the loss.
“I did my best, but it wasn’t good enough,” said Wilder afterwards. “I’m not sure what happened. I know that in training he did certain things, and I also knew that he didn’t come in at 277 to be a ballet dancer. He came to lean on me, try to rough me up and he succeeded.”
With the spoils shared in a controversial draw in December 2018 and Fury demolishing Wilder in seven rounds of the February 2020 rematch, the trilogy fight surpassed the rivals’ previous engagements with its raw excitement and momentum changes.
Carrying added bulk to counter Fury’s physical advantages, Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) began jabbing smartly to the body before the Gypsy King took over to deck the American with a brisk volley in the third.
But Wilder’s vaunted right hand means he can never be discounted and he twice dropped Fury with that same shot in a sudden turnaround in the fourth.
With his better ringcraft and dogged determination, Fury gradually beat the resistance out of the rejuvenated Wilder. The American’s immense heart kept him in the fight in torrid seventh and eighth rounds before Fury dropped him once more with a right hand in the 10th.
Fury finally closed the show with a chopping right in the 11th round that felled Wilder again and forced referee Russell Mora’s intervention on a spectacular night for heavyweight boxing.
On the undercard, crafty Cuban heavy Frank Sanchez (19-0, 13 KOs) saw his stock rise with a 10-round decision over Houston-based Nigerian Efe Ajagba (15-1, 12 KOs). Scores were 98-91 (twice) and 97-92 with Ajagba down in the seventh and unable to counter Sanchez’s shrewd boxing.
Fringe heavyweight contender Robert Helenius (31-3, 19 KOs) defeated popular Pole Adam Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs) for a second time, winning via sixth-round disqualification after the latter responded to a tough night by landing repeated low blows.
Meanwhile, Toledo’s rising KO artist Jared Anderson (10-0, 10 KOs) stopped Las Vegas-based Russian Vladimir Tereshkin (22-1-1, 12 KOs) in two rounds at heavy; Puerto Rican 168lbs hope Edgar Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) rose from a ninth-round knockdown to outpoint Argentine Marcelo Coceres (30-3-1, 16 KOs) 96-93 on all cards and unsung Mexican Vladimir Hernandez (13-4, 6 KOs) upset former unified 154lbs king Julian Williams (27-3-1, 16 KOs) via split decision – 97-93 and 96-94 overruling a 96-94 nod for the ex-champion.
Main image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.