By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Now that he has tasted Deontay Wilder’s power, Tyson Fury is even more aware why Anthony Joshua hasn’t fought the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion.
“It’s no secret Joshua didn’t want this fight,” Fury said during the post-fight press conference, “and he didn’t want it for a reason – because Deontay Wilder is the most fiercest puncher in boxing history, in heavyweight-division history. And I saw that tonight and I felt it. No wonder AJ didn’t want no part of that right hand. He can’t move like he. He’d have been nailed!”
The 6-feet-9, 256½-pound Fury mostly made the hard-hitting Wilder miss during their 12-round split draw Saturday night at Staples Center. The 6-feet-7, 212½-pound Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) nailed the elusive Englishman twice, however, and floored Fury once apiece in the ninth and 12th rounds.
Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) showed remarkable resilience by getting up both times, particularly in the 12th round.
Wilder drilled his courageous challenger with a right-left combination that left Fury flat on his back with just over two minutes remaining in their fascinating fight. Fury appeared down and out, yet barely beat referee Jack Reiss’ count, came back and hurt Wilder with right hands that prevented Wilder from finishing him off.
Wilder was asked during the press conference if he believes the unbeaten Joshua would’ve been able to get up from Wilder’s devastating punches.
“No way,” Fury said. “No way. He can’t move, so he never would’ve gotten out of the way of Wilder. Wilder’s got lightning fists and he has dynamite in his hands. Great fighter. I respect him a lot.”
The respect is mutual, as is the way they feel about the 6-feet-6, 245-pound Joshua’s reluctance to face Wilder. With Wilder and Fury expected to at least seriously consider an immediate rematch, England’s Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) likely will defend his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles against another opponent April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London.
“Listen, I stood up for me country,” Fury said, “I stood up for me people, me pride, me family name and I represented the United Kingdom and Ireland tonight. And I done it well. I’m proud and I just wanna say that I am a true-bred, fighting man. And Wilder came over to the UK and showed it up. He called out Joshua and he got offered a lot of money – a lot of money, money that could change countries, money that could make broke countries rich [$50 million]. He turned it down. And I come in here – I said to Deontay, ‘I’m sorry for what’s happened to you.’ Deontay’s got the text and I’m sure he’ll tell you the same.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry what’s happened to you.’ I said, ‘But you offer me the fight,’ I said, ‘I will not turn it down. I promise you.’ I said, ‘I am the fighting man and I’ll step up and represent my country.’ And tonight I did that. And I just wanna say that it was a great opportunity. Deontay Wilder’s a good man, a good fighting man. And I respect him. You saw that after the bell. The buildup was the buildup, and we had a great buildup. I don’t remember a better buildup than that for any fight. Two heavyweights, we’re both – I had a great dance partner. And I just wanna say, Deontay Wilder, he can definitely fight and he’s definitely a showman. He definitely can talk.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.