By Michael Rosenthal
LOS ANGELES – One of the most asked questions after the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury draw Saturday night: How the hell did Fury get up from that 12th-round knockdown?
Wilder, who many believed needed a knockout to win the fight going into the final round, landed a crushing right to Fury’s head followed a just-as-vicious left as he was on his way to the canvas.
Fury lay still on his back for around five seconds – leaving everyone to wonder whether the fight had just ended – but somehow he got to his feet before the count of 10 and survived to the final bell.
Good conditioning? Good chin? Sheer determination? Divine intervention? They probably all played a role.
“It’s what true champions do,” Fury said at a news conference Sunday morning at a downtown hotel. “I had two decisions I could make on that floor: stay down or get up. And as long as I had life left in this body, I was going to continue to fight.
“… Credit to him. He caught me flush. But I got up. I don’t know how. It was like the Phoenix rising from the ashes.”
How hard did Fury get punched? He said many times that you “can’t go swimming without getting wet,” a reference to the inevitable punishment one takes in the ring, but he had a tongue-in-cheek addendum in regard to the shots Wilder delivered: “I got drenched, actually.”
Fury was asked why he waited to get up.
“I was taking the full time to recover,” he said. “When you’re on your back, flat out, you don’t know what your legs will be like when you get up. If you jump to your feet in two or three seconds, your legs might be gone. My legs were perfect.”
Fury gave credit to veteran referee Jack Reiss. Some refs wouldn’t have allowed Fury to continue, such were the devastating blows he took. Reiss gave him every chance to prove he could continue.
“The ref said, ‘Go left, go right. Can you continue?’” Fury said. “Fair play to Jack Reiss. He’s one of the best refs I’ve ever experienced. A lesser referee could’ve called the fight. He told us before the fight, “if anyone goes down, you’ll get a full opportunity to get up. And as long as you tell me you’re OK, I’ll let you continue.”
And so a remarkable moment in heavyweight boxing played out.