Boxing has been living on the fringes of the American sports universe for some time now but the performance that Wilder and Fury put on has come front center for the sports world. A trilogy fight that many fight fans saw as a roadblock to total unification and a foregone conclusion after the second fight treated spectators to an entertaining battle. Some commentators are calling this the best heavyweight fight of the the decade, the century and some as far as ever. I disagree with these sentiments but regardless we were treated to a classic. This put an exclamation point on the heavyweight fight scene just weeks removed from the fantastic fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua that saw several title belts change hands.
The Las Vegas heavyweight showdown pitted Ring Magazine and WBC champion Tyson Fury against the man he took the belts from last February in Deontay Wilder. A lot took place since the initial fight including the COVID-19 outbreak and the changes in every day life as we know it, accusations of glove and hand wrap tampering from Wilder’s camp, a change in trainers for Wilder and a courtroom battle to make this fight possible as Fury and Joshua were all but set to meet for all the heavyweight championships. Myself and many observers practically wrote Wilder off and though the eleventh round knockout proved us right, this fight had its share of ebbs and flows with Wilder appearing on the verge of a victory more than once. Former fighter and Wilder foe Malik Scott took over for the fired Mark Breland and has every right to feel proud in the aftermath of this past Saturday. Wilder made the necessary improvements to push Fury to the brink and improved upon his performance in the second fight. Wilder entered at 238 pounds, the heaviest of his career, and attacked early behind a wise jab with a body attack to follow. Wilder won the first round giving a new look prior to the brawl that ensued.
Tyson Fury also came in at a big 277 pounds looking a little fleshy but still brought his wealth of skills and unique style. The champion won the second round to get back on track and floored Wilder in the third round. I sat in my seat thinking, “this is it” but Wilder showed resolve to make the final bell. Then something remarkable happened, Wilder put Fury on the canvas with his right hand. The heavier Fury coming off a layoff showed vulnerability in this fight and where he was just quick enough to evade Wilder’s bombs in the previous two fights, he lost enough of a step for Wilder to get to him. Wilder dropped him again to take the fourth round in commanding fashion in a 10-7 round and won the fifth round on my scorecard giving him a lead after five rounds in my view. From there Fury took the play away from Deontay by using his size to wear Wilder down by leaning on him and employing headlocks that referee Russell Mora warned him for and forced Fury to have to fight more inside rather than wrestle. Speaking of improvements for Wilder, he fought better on the inside in this fight. In the second fight Wilder was totally washed inside as he was either countered repeatedly, forced to cover up or hold. In this fight Wilder would throw punches inside and surprised Fury with punches that he would not let go in the previous encounter. Despite these improvements he clearly began to gas from the pace and started reverting back to his old self. As opposed to setting his attack behind the jab and digging to the body he started head hunting narrowly looking for one big right hand.
Fury began to dominate the fight from the sixth round on and began to deliver some serious punishment. It has been revealed that Wilder suffered a broken hand in possibly the sixth round and he showed an unbelievable amount of heart soldiering on. With the fight getting out of reach Wilder was sent to the canvas in the tenth round but then momentum swung again. Fury lingered inside charging forward and was caught with a short right hand. Wilder desperately windmilled away at Fury showing tremendous courage in the face of total exhaustion. The crowd stood in approval but this was a last gasp for Wilder as he was sent face first to the canvas. In the aftermath Wilder exited the ring refusing to show much respect for the victorious Fury or give an interview. Fury celebrated his win as Wilder was hospitalized and dazed all of the following day on Sunday before recovering his balance.
Despite his post fight snub the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native has been highly praised in defeat for the guts he showed hanging in there until the very end. The Bronze Bomber falls to 42-2-1 with 41 knockouts and still remains an interesting figure in the division. Fury calls him the second best heavyweight as a testament to how great his win is but Wilder has a deadly punch and great determination to land it. He is still a threat to anyone in the division but he did take tremendous punishment and is on the other side of thirty-five. He has been suspended for six months as a precautionary measure to allow him to recover and the hand injury has been described as keeping him out for three months according to manager Shelly Winkle. More importantly Fury now has the title, Joshua and Usyk will fight their rematch, and fighters like Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce will attempt to force their mandatory status. All this means is Wilder will either have to wait a while to get a title shot or will have to lure a a very dangerous fighter to the ring and take a risky fight to cut the line.
The Gypsy King advanced to 31-0-1 with twenty-two knockouts and at thirty-three is positioned as the man to beat in the division. He was undefeated prior to dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and has been undefeated in his subsequent comeback. The massive champion scored a brutal and entertaining victory in a fight where he showed serious vulnerability. Dillian Whyte is pressing his status and the WBC will likely force Fury to face Whyte or vacate. Of course Whyte could always lose to Otto Wallin whom he is scheduled to face this fall. The winner of Usyk and Joshua in their rematch is the obvious call though a Joe Joyce mandatory challenge could delay that as well. Though Fury won he looked slower with the extra weight and was more vulnerable in this fight than we are used to seeing him. Was this due to the lay off, weight, lack of motivation or a sign of slowing. Fury is not old for a heavyweight but is a very big man at 6’9″ 277 pounds and abused his body with drugs and alcohol. Could he be past his peak and vulnerable to the tricky southpaw Oleksandr Usyk and the pace and boxing skills he brings to the table?
The fight has been hailed an instant classic in the wake of its brutal conclusion. Legendary fighters like Mike Tyson have lauded the fight as an all time great match and the arch rival of boxing Dana White has stated that this was the fight “that boxing needed”. Across numerous sports platforms from mainstream ones such as ESPN and CBS to rival MMA sites to a pop culture icon for young people like Bar Stool this fight has buzz. I bought the fight and I almost never buy PPV’s but despite low buys 650,000 to 850,000 for the second fight it is a positive result. Without a doubt the sports world is paying attention to boxing which is always a good thing. That said, Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua is the best heavyweight title fight in recent memory and Vitali Klitschko vs Lennox Lewis is this centuries top heavyweight fight. I like Otto Wallin’s chances against Dilllian Whyte and expect another good fight and intriguing result at stake.