By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Once Tyson Fury fell flat on his back in the 12th round Saturday night, Freddie Roach assumed Deontay Wilder finally had landed a punch punishing enough to end their fight.
Roach, Fury’s assistant trainer, was stunned when Fury popped up to barely beat referee Jack Reiss’ count. The brave Brit didn’t just reach his feet – he landed hard shots of his own that made Wilder retreat and kept the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion from hurting him again before the final bell sounded.
“It didn’t look like he was getting up,” Roach told BoxingScene.com following their split draw at Staples Center. “He’s got a tremendous amount of balls.”
Beyond getting up from two knockdowns that might’ve finished lesser fighters, Roach also was impressed by Fury’s boxing ability in a bout he would’ve won by split decision if not for that second knockdown with just over two minutes to go in their fight.
“He has great footwork and he’s very smooth,” Roach said. “I think he has great legs. When he boxed in my gym, 12 rounds, three times, I said, ‘This guy is in great shape.’ He doesn’t look like it. He’s not ripped and so forth. The thing is he came from over 350 pounds. I mean, he did really well for himself. I think he should be proud of himself tonight. And, you know, they have a rematch clause and why not?”
Fury and promoter Frank Warren expressed their desire to have Fury’s rematch with Wilder in the United Kingdom. After drawing an announced crowd of 17,698 to Staples Center on Saturday night, they’re sure they’d fill a soccer stadium in England.
Regardless, Roach walked away from their fight extremely impressed with England’s Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) and Alabama’s Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs).
“He has so much heart,” Roach said of Fury. “He was in against one of the biggest punchers out there, and it didn’t look like Wilder was gonna catch him at all. But he finally got aggressive and he knew that he needed that. [Wilder] did what he had to do and that was very impressive, also.”
Roach wasn’t impressed by the judges. He noted that even the two rounds in which Wilder floored Fury could’ve been scored 10-9 for Wilder, not 10-8, because Fury recovered and won the remainder of those three-minute periods.
Only one judge, Canada’s Robert Tapper, had Fury ahead after 12 rounds (114-112). California’s Alejandro Rochin scored the fight for Wilder (115-111), while England’s Phil Edwards scored it a draw (113-113).
“Well, the one scorecard that had 115-111, whoever it was, was way off,” Roach said. “Again, we wanna be quiet about this. We’ll just go into the future, win a rematch or get a better opponent. I mean, that’s our only option. We’re not gonna just take an ordinary fight.”
Roach assisted head trainer Ben Davison for the final month of Fury’s training camp at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. The International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer feels a full training camp with Fury for his second shot at Wilder would be beneficial.
“A rematch would definitely be different,” Roach said. “He would have more time [to prepare]. Let’s face it – the first two tune-up fights weren’t worth nothing. But we’d be much better prepared [for the rematch].”
When asked how Fury was able to get off the canvas following that second devastating knockdown, Roach was almost at a loss for words.
“I’m not sure,” Roach said. “Maybe there is a God.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing