LAS VEGAS – It took Tyson Fury 10-plus rounds Saturday night, but the huge heavyweight finally emphatically finished his trilogy with Deontay Wilder.
The undefeated Fury violently knocked out a brave-but-exhausted Wilder with a right hand that sent the former WBC heavyweight champion crashing to the canvas early in the 11th round of a stunning slugfest that thoroughly entertained a crowd of 15,820 at T-Mobile Arena. A comparably courageous Fury floored Wilder three times – once apiece in the third, 10th and 11th rounds – before referee Russell Mora finally stopped a fight that could’ve been halted much earlier because Wilder was so tired and seemingly in danger of getting seriously hurt.
Fury’s chopping right hand to the side of Wilder’s head knocked Wilder on his side, which made Mora immediately wave an end to an entertaining ESPN/FOX Sports Pay-Per-View main event at 1:10 of the 11th round.
The ever-resilient Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs), of Manchester, England, had to get up from two knockdowns during the fourth round to come back to defeat Wilder in this brutal brawl. All three judges – Tim Cheatham (94-92), Dave Moretti (95-91) and Steve Weisfeld (95-92) – had Fury ahead entering the 11th round.
“Well, like the great John Wayne said, I’m made of pig iron and steel, baby,” Fury told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after his dramatic victory. “First of all, I’d just like to say thank you to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. … He made me legs strong. I was down a couple of times. I was hurt. Wilder’s a strong puncher and he’s a tough man. I was hitting him with some big shots, and my lord and savior rose me to my feet tonight to give him the glory.”
The 6-feet-9 Fury, who weighed in at a career-high 277 pounds Friday, went off as nearly a 3-1 favorite at MGM Grand’s sportsbook. He made the first defense of the WBC belt he won from Wilder in February 2020.
The 6-feet-7 Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), who weighed in at a career-high 238 pounds Friday, was stopped in a second straight fight to Fury. Wilder lost by seventh-round technical knockout in their rematch 19 months ago at nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“You know, it was a great fight tonight,” Fury said. “It was worthy of any trilogy in the history of the sport. You know, I’m not gonna make any excuses. Wilder’s a tough fighter. He gave me a real run for me money tonight. And I always said I’m the best in the world, and he’s the second-best.
“You know, he’s got no love for me, Deontay Wilder. Because you know why? Because I beat him three times. And it’s like, I’m a sportsman. I went over to show him support and respect, and he didn’t wanna give it back. So, that’s his problem. I’ll pray for him, so God will soften his heart.”
Wilder didn’t speak before he left the ring.
The round before Fury finished off his rival, Fury caught Wilder with a right hand about 30 seconds into the 10th round. Wilder withstood that shot, but Fury put him down later in the 10th round.
Fury’s right to the side of Wilder’s head sent Wilder to his gloves and knees with about 1:20 to go in the 10th round. Wilder valiantly reached his feet again and tried to fight out of that trouble.
Wilder landed a couple of punches just before the 10th round, but Fury tapped his face and urged Wilder to hit him again.
A ringside physician asked Wilder several questions before he allowed Wilder to walk to the center of the ring and start the ninth round.
Wilder nailed Fury with a right hand with just over two minutes to go in the ninth round. Wilder threw several punches in the final 30 seconds of the ninth round and appeared to affect Fury with a right uppercut while they were tied up in a neutral corner.
A left hook by Fury backed Wilder into a netural corner with just over 1:40 to go in the eighth round. Fury punished him for remainder of the round, as an exhausted Wilder was barely able to remain on his feet.
Fury’s right hand staggered Wilder with just over 1:40 to go in the seventh round. Fury hurt Wilder again with a right hand with just over 45 seconds to go in the seventh round.
Wilder withstood Fury’s onslaught, though, to make it to the eighth round.
Wilder landed a left to the side of Fury’s head early in the sixth round, but Fury pressed forward. Fury connected with a right hand that backed Wilder into the ropes with just under 50 seconds to go in the sixth round.
Wilder seemed extremely tired as he walked back toward his corner when the sixth round ended.
Fury withstood two knockdowns during the fourth round to crack Wilder with a right hand early in the fifth round that made Wilder hold him. Wilder appeared exhausted in that round, as if he punched himself out attempting to finish Fury in the fourth round.
Wilder appeared on the verge of getting knocked out again by Fury before he blasted him with a right that landed to the middle of Fury’s face, and then a right to the top of Fury’s head that caused him to lose his balance and fall to the canvas. Fury slowly reached his feet, yet he beat Mora’s count.
Wilder swung wildly and missed with several punches before landing another right hand on the inside that sent Fury to the canvas again with about 15 seconds to go in the fourth round.
Fury again took his time, but he made got up again and the round ended before Wilder could attack him again.
Wilder drilled Fury with a right hand that made Fury clinch him with about 1:25 to go in the third round. Fury withstood Wilder’s attack, though, staggerd Wilder with a jab and dropped him after landing a right hand to the side of his head and then a short right-left combination that sent Wilder to the canvas.
A fatigued Wilder answered Mora’s count in time, but Fury pounced on him and tried to finish him. With Wilder backed into the ropes, the bell sounded to end the round and perhaps saved Wilder from a knockout defeat in that round.
Fury backed up Wilder and caused him to clinch about 25 seconds into the second round. Wilder continued to go after Fury’s body soon thereafter.
Fury connected with a thudding right hand to Wilder’s body about 1:10 into the second round. A left hook by Fury backed Wilder into the ropes with just over a minute remaining in the second round.
Fury later lunged at Wilder and hit him with a right hand as Wilder backed up.
Wilder went after Fury’s body as soon as their bout began. The first clinch came with about 1:25 to go in the first round, as Wilder tied up Fury.
Wilder later grazed Fury with a right hand with just over a minute to go in the opening round. Fury then drilled Wilder with a right hand just before the first round concluded.
Their third fight took place 19 months after a rematch Fury won surprisingly easily in February 2020. Fury floored Wilder twice, once in the third round and again in the fifth round, during their one-sided second bout before Wilder’s former assistant trainer, Mark Breland, threw in the towel to stop their scheduled 12-rounder in the seventh round.
Fury was contractually obligated to their third fight, though that didn’t stop his co-promoters, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, from trying to make a more lucrative heavyweight championship unification fight against British superstar Anthony Joshua.
England’s Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) later lost his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts to Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs). Ukraine’s Usyk out-boxed Joshua and won a 12-round unanimous decision September 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Fury and Wilder were supposed to fight a third time July 24 at T-Mobile Arena, but it was postponed 2½ months early in July because Fury contracted COVID-19.
Their first fight resulted in a 12-round split draw in December 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Wilder dropped Fury twice during that bout, once apiece in the ninth and 12th rounds. An epically resilient Fury got up from a vicious knockdown early in the 12th round that night, fought back and made it to the final bell.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.