WBC heavy­weight champ Deon­tay Wilder es­capes from Tyson Fury with con­tro­ver­sial draw

Boxing News - - Contents - Matt Christie @Mattcbox­ingnews RINGSIDE


BUT for an act of su­per­hu­man re­cov­ery, we would all be hail­ing Deon­tay Wilder

as the ar­chi­tect of one of the most sen­sa­tional fin­ishes in heavy­weight his­tory. And it’s true, the WBC cham­pion de­serves more credit than he’s cur­rently get­ting for his part in a highly con­tentious draw that will surely be the fight of the year.

More­over, were it not for Wilder’s stun­ning three-punch com­bi­na­tion in the 12th and fi­nal round in­side the Los An­ge­les Sta­ples Cen­ter, Tyson Fury would now be show­ing off the WBC ti­tle and toast­ing the great­est vic­tory of his colour­ful ca­reer. But those punches and sub­se­quent rise from them only en­hanced what was al­ready one of the most in­cred­i­ble sto­ries of the mod­ern era. For­get the con­tro­versy and the mind-blow­ing score of 115-111 handed in by judge Ale­jan­dro Rochin in Wilder’s favour. Be­cause Tyson Fury de­serves bet­ter than for us to only dwell on that.

“I don’t know what fight the judges were watch­ing,” said Fury, from a ho­tel in down­town Los An­ge­les, the morn­ing after the fight. “It was the bad­dest [worst] de­ci­sion since first Len­nox Lewis-evan­der Holy­field fight. It’s stuff like this that gives box­ing a bad name. All the re­ports will be about how bad the de­ci­sion was.

“I thought I won the fight com­fort­ably, even though I had to climb off the floor twice. If I didn’t get knocked down twice, I would still have lost on one judge’s card [Rochin’s]. He should be banned from box­ing. Or at least go to Spec­savers.” Like all the best box­ing sto­ries, the head­lines kept chang­ing from the mo­ment this fas­ci­nat­ing matchup was an­nounced in Au­gust. Even as the cards were be­ing read out by Jimmy Len­non Jnr the plot twisted and turned. (The other two be­ing 113-113 from Phil Ed­wards, and 114-112 – the same as Box­ing News – in Fury’s favour from Robert Tap­per).

Yet the defin­ing nar­ra­tive of the show­down must not be those con­tro­ver­sial scores or even An­thony Joshua los­ing sig­nif­i­cant mo­men­tum as the divi­sion leader. ³

³ No, this must be about Tyson Fury bril­liantly re­gain­ing his place among the best fighters on the planet against all the odds. About him tak­ing the best Deon­tay Wilder could throw at him to craft one of the great­est come­backs of them all.

Every­one knew Fury’s story go­ing into this clash. The obe­sity, the ad­dic­tion to booze and drugs. The de­pres­sion and sav­age dis­re­gard for him­self that al­most cost him his life. The sub­se­quent re­turn to fit­ness, the un­con­vinc­ing come­back bouts against sub­par op­po­si­tion. And the Deon­tay Wilder-shaped moun­tain he vol­un­teered to climb, sup­pos­edly too soon.

What we didn’t know – what we couldn’t pos­si­bly know – was the ex­tent of his re­cu­per­a­tive pow­ers.

After out­box­ing Wilder, out­smart­ing him and, for large por­tions of the 12-rounder, out­punch­ing him, Fury’s head, after be­ing po­si­tioned with a jab, was can­noned into dream­land by that famed right hand. As the 30-year-old col­lapsed, Wilder fol­lowed with a lethal left hook. The chal­lenger’s head jerked one way and then an­other. Not one fight-end­ing blast but two, and in rapid suc­ces­sion. The English­man landed on his back. Knees bent, arms life­less and eyes va­cant.

As the ref­eree Jack Reiss started to count it seemed like a waste of time. Some jour­nal­ists even shouted for the Amer­i­can of­fi­cial to stop the fight so Fury could re­ceive treat­ment. Re­lief thun­dered through the cham­pion. Job done, at last. As he danced his vic­tory dance, Fury lifted his head, re­gained the feel­ing in his arms and legs and hoisted him­self ver­ti­cal.

If you’ve seen 1978 hor­ror movie Hal­loween, think of the end­ing when Lau­rie Strode pre­sumes she’s killed the vil­lain­ous Michael My­ers and sobs in re­lief, only for the au­di­ence to see him sit bolt up­right in the back­ground as the stab­bing sound­track in­creases in vol­ume. In­deed, Wilder must have felt that sim­i­lar feel­ing of dread when he turned to see Fury not only on two feet but jog­ging on them. All it needed was the Hal­loween theme to start boom­ing from the speak­ers in­side the arena and the sur­real scene would have been com­plete.

More re­mark­able than that, even, was what fol­lowed.

With two min­utes to sur­vive, Fury did so com­fort­ably. He taunted the cham­pion with his hands be­hind his back, with his tongue out, and set about tak­ing the fight to him. A right hand, and then an­other, wob­bled the in­creas­ingly weary Wilder. As the fi­nal bell loomed, it was the Alabama man who was the more del­i­cate of the two.

“I don’t know how he got up,” Wilder com­mented. “I re­ally thought I had him out of there. I hit him with the right and left hook, I saw his eyes roll. God knows how he got up.”

While Fury of­fered only praise to his op­po­nent, Wilder – though re­spect­ful – sug­gested the count had started too late, that Tyson was given pre­cious ex­tra sec­onds to re­cover. But it should be stated on record now that there was no long count. From the mo­ment Fury thud­ded into the can­vas un­til he as­sured Reiss he was okay, only 10 sec­onds had elapsed.

“Fair play to Jack Reiss, he’s a fan­tas­tic ref­eree, the best I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced,”


Fury said. “He did say in the chang­ing room be­fore the fight, ‘If any­one goes down, I will give you chance to prove you’re okay. But you must prove you’re okay, other­wise I will stop the fight’.”

It was the sec­ond time that Fury had proved he was okay. The first fall, a lighter one, came in the ninth round and at a point when the con­test al­ready seemed beyond “The Bronze Bomber”. Wilder chased Fury to the ropes in that ses­sion. The chal­lenger ducked but Wilder whacked him on the back of the head with his right hand to send him crash­ing down. The blow bor­dered on the il­le­gal, but the Amer­i­can had gained an un­ex­pected foothold.

Which brings us back to the start. Wilder played an enor­mous part in this con­test. If Fury de­serves the head­lines, it is be­cause of what he had to over­come.

Wilder might look back on the bout and cringe at his mis­takes, but his heart and de­sire to win was sim­ply re­lent­less.

It’s true that after a tight open­ing few ses­sions he was strug­gling for ideas. Dur­ing the mid­dle rounds and the point when Fury’s re­serves should have been tested, Wilder could not break through. Like Wladimir Kl­itschko three years ago, Deon­tay found the Tyson Fury co­nun­drum too con­fus­ing to solve and too dan­ger­ous to at­tack. And only those who have faced Fury will know how to­tally de­mor­al­is­ing that can feel. The English­man was so clever in what he was do­ing. The herky-jerk­i­ness that ini­tially seemed likely to ex­haust him, threw Wilder off plan. At one point, Fury evaded a five-punch vol­ley from Wilder with­out even mov­ing his feet. It was like noth­ing his ri­val had ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. Each time Wilder came for­ward, he was pun­ished by coun­ters. And those coun­ters car­ried enough weight to pre­vent the all-out on­slaught that was promised be­fore­hand. How­ever, Wilder’s own re­cov­ery is tes­ta­ment to what he of­fers a divi­sion that is thriv­ing at the top. In ev­ery sin­gle one of his 41 bouts, his power has played a sig­nif­i­cant part in the out­come. It’s true he’s wild and crude and lacks the nat­u­ral skill of some his ri­vals, but in an era where box­ers are big­ger and stronger than ever be­fore, Wilder’s abil­ity to short cir­cuit any­one should not be un­der­es­ti­mated again. Let’s please not for­get that the cham­pion was out­weighed by a whop­ping 42lbs, ei­ther. Nor should Ben Dav­i­son, Tyson’s young trainer, be left out of the con­grat­u­la­tions. He was ridiculed in some quar­ters when he was ap­pointed as the man to over­see Fury’s re­turn. Dav­i­son’s first job, to en­sure Fury shifted 100lbs, was achieve­ment enough. That he then guided Fury through this bout adds an­other layer to his rep­u­ta­tion.

It should also en­hance the fighter’s stand­ing too. A lot was made of Tyson’s un­cle and former trainer Peter Fury’s part in the pre­vi­ous ride to the top. Sug­gested, sev­eral times, that Fury would not be able to rise again with­out him. With hind­sight, that was do­ing the Trav­eller’s own ef­forts a dis­ser­vice. Be­cause Tyson Fury, who­ever is in his cor­ner, re­ally is a spe­cial fighter.

So what comes next? The re­match is sud­denly the most ap­peal­ing fight in the divi­sion. How Joshua felt while watch­ing his coun­try­man and Wilder, for so long his clos­est ri­val, steal the lime­light only he will know. But don’t doubt that he will be keen to re­gain it as soon as pos­si­ble. And therein lies yet an­other bonus of Satur­day night’s epic bat­tle; there are now three un­beaten heavy­weights atop the divi­sion, who will all be jostling to prove they’re num­ber one in 2019.

One senses it’s cru­cial for Fury’s fu­ture, when con­sid­er­ing his past, that he is granted the chances he de­serves.

“You win some, you lose some and, in my case, you draw some,” Fury dead­panned. But what­ever the judges ruled, Tyson Fury’s per­for­mance on Satur­day night was the cul­mi­na­tion of the big­gest vic­tory of his life.

THE VER­DICT Fury rises from the flames in a truly great fight and de­serves more than just a draw. But Wilder plays his part, too.


WHAT A PUNCH: Wilder fol­lows a right hand with this left hook as Fury top­ples

OUT COLD: Fury crum­bles and as the count be­gins [right] he is barely con­scious

THE BOSS: Fury’s jab is key in tak­ing con­trol of the ght


FIRST KNOCK­DOWN: Fury hits the deck in the ninth but he will re­cover quickly

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