Fury-ious finish sets up Wilder rematch
LOS ANGELES — Challenger Tyson Fury dominated long stretches of Saturday’s WBC heavyweight title bout against Deontay Wilder, thanks to a sneaky jab and shifty defense.
But in the 12th and final round, Fury ended up flat on the canvas, his eyes rolling backward while Wilder celebrated above him.
The 6-foot-9 Englishman somehow gathered his wits, rose and made it to the final bell. That’s when both hulking men heard a verdict that didn’t satisfy them, but all but guaranteed a rematch.
Wilder, from Alabama, retained his title when the bout was declared a split draw. One judge favored Wilder 115-111, one had Fury winning 114-112 and the third called it a 113-113 draw.
“One hundred percent we’ll do the rematch,” Fury said. “We are two great champions. Me and this man are the two best heavyweights on the planet.”
The 6-foot-7 Wilder (40-0-1) floored Fury (27-0-1) in rounds 9 and 12, but the challenger clearly outboxed him over the first half of the fight at Staples Center.
Fury appeared to be on his way to a decision victory when he came out for the final round — but 50 seconds later he looked totally finished when Wilder put him on his back after landing a brutal right-left combination.
“I hope I did you all proud after nearly three years out of the ring,” Fury said.
“I was never going to be knocked out tonight. I showed good heart to get up. I came here tonight and I fought my heart out.”
While Wilder kept his belt, Fury remains the unofficial lineal heavyweight champion by virtue of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
“We gave each other all we’ve got,” Wilder said. “We’re the best in the world. The respect was mutual.”
While both men thought they won, neither was overly upset by the verdict in front of a frenzied Hollywood crowd. They embraced warmly and immediately talked about a spring rematch.
“When you get two warriors, you get a great fight,” Wilder said. “That’s what we proved tonight, and I’m ready to do it again.”
The bout was a rare meeting of two unbeaten heavyweight stars in their apparent primes, with both fighters putting aside caution and the typical squabbles over money or belts to stage one of the most compelling matchups in the glamor division’s recent history.
With just over two minutes left in the fight, Wilder buckled Fury’s knees with a right hand and knocked him senseless with a perfect left on the way down.
Even though Wilder made a throat-slashing gesture and mouthed “It’s over,” Fury beat the count and went back to work.
Wilder failed to win for the first time since his semifinal bout at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and he failed to knock out his opponent for only the second time in 41 professional bouts.
“I came out slow. I rushed my punches. I was too hesitant,” he said. “I started overthrowing the right hand, and I just couldn’t adjust.”