By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Deontay Wilder couldn’t believe what happened before his very eyes.
The knockout artist was already celebrating, certain he had finished a stubborn Tyson Fury for good Saturday night at Staples Center. The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion had hit Fury so hard with a right-left combination early in the 12th round, Wilder figured there was no way Fury should’ve been able to get to his feet before referee Jack Reiss counted to 10.
Somehow, the resilient Brit went from flat on his back, seemingly out cold, to upright and ready to fight back by the time Reiss reached the count of 9½. Fury’s ability to then hit Wilder with impactful punches kept Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) from finishing what he had started.
Instead of becoming another one of Wilder’s knockout victims, the 30-year-old Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) produced one of the most memorable moments in heavyweight history. By finishing their fight on his feet, the Manchester native battled Wilder to a split draw and put himself in position to land what would be a lucrative immediate rematch.
The 33-year-old Wilder expressed dismay during the post-fight press conference over Fury’s ability to survive that crushing combination.
“I don’t know how he got up,” Wilder said.
Without any rational explanation for Fury’s astounding recuperation, the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native suggested divine intervention enabled Fury to get up.
“I really thought I had him out of there,” Wilder said, “because I hit him with the right hand and followed with the left hook. And everyone knows I’ve got heavy hands and I hit hard. And I literally seen this man’s eyes rolling in the back of his head. And I seen Jack on the ground, checking him, and I said, ‘It’s over.’
“You know, only God knows how he got back up. But like I said, I had fun, though. I don’t make no excuses. I enjoy the moment and go back to my family. That’s the main thing about it. You know, enjoying the moment, displaying my talent across the world that God blessed me with. And then, going back to my family, man. That’s my happiest.”
Wilder wasn’t happy that only one judge, California’s Alejandro Rochin, scored their fight for him (115-111). Canadian judge Robert Tapper had Fury in front following 12 rounds (114-112).
The lone British judge, Phil Edwards, scored their compelling, competitive clash a draw (113-113).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.