This past Saturday evening saw the much-awaited clash between heavyweight giants Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury unfold at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event lived up to the pre-fight hype, with the ‘Gypsy King’ putting on a stunning performance to dethrone Wilder as WBC Champion and restore himself as a title holder in the division.
There was much anticipation going into Saturday’s fight as to whether Fury would come good on his promise to bring the fight to Wilder and be the aggressor rather than stick to his usually crafty, awkward style which he has often used to outbox opponents. The Englishman was true to his word and immediately came out on the front foot. Despite being caught by a couple of right hands Fury comfortably won the opening round, backing up the Wilder and landing plenty of shots.
The success continued for Fury in the second round as he used his 42-pound weight advantage to wear down the American on the inside and sap his energy. While Wilder’s right hand remained an ever-present danger, Fury was able to continue to catch him consistently and win the round.
The third round was when the real breakthrough came for Fury. After continuing to rain shots down upon the so-called ‘Bronze Bomber’, he was able to floor Wilder via a devastating one-two combination with 40 seconds to go in the round. Wilder quickly got to his feet, complaining to the referee Kenny Bayless that he had been hit on the back of the head, and was able to survive the remainder of the round on extremely unsteady legs which saw him trip and fall to the canvas as he tried to last to the bell.
The situation didn’t improve much for Wilder in the fourth as his shaky legs caused him to trip once again as Fury continued to be the oppressor. Although this was not ruled a knockdown, it demonstrated just how uncomfortable the champion was with Fury’s aggression.
Fury’s pressure paid off once more in the fifth as he put Wilder down with a body shot after a backing him up and throwing a barrage of punches to his head. With a minute and 40 seconds remaining in the round it looked unlikely Wilder would see the bell as he staggered like a drunk and took more punishment from Fury. However, an interjection by referee Kenny Bayless who opted to deduct a point from the Englishman gave Wilder a much-needed respite and used up precious time, enabling him see out the round and return to his corner.
Once again Wilder had little to offer in return to Fury’s onslaught in the sixth round. He spent much of the three minutes being backed onto the ropes by the six-foot nine Fury as Kenny Bayless often got up close to the action to check if Wilder was capable of continuing.
With his eyes closed and blood dripping from his ear, the former Olympic Bronze medallist was in a weary state as he sat in his corner before coming out for the seventh round. The beatdown did not last much longer as midway through the round Fury backed Wilder into a corner and let his hands go. Wilder threw nothing back and as Fury’s punches made their way through his guard the towel came flying in, ending the fight and making Tyson Fury the new WBC champion and also warding him the vacant Ring Magazine belt.
The Gypsy King’s return as a world champion caps off an extraordinary comeback in which he recovered from a three-year layoff from the sport involving drug addiction, depression and weight gain after he became world champion for the first time by defeating Wladimir Klitschko.
As with any mega fight a lot has been said since the since Saturday’s bout by both sides. Most notably Wilder and his camp have come out with a variety of reasons as to why Fury dominated him in such a one-sided fight.
Wilder’s chief explanation for his poor performance is the weight of the costume he wore as part of his ring walk. While Fury dressed as a King and was carried to the ring on a throne, Wilder opted for an elaborate black armour complete with a mask and crown which he chose to honour black history month. The transformer-esque costume, which was very similar to what Wilder has worn when past few walkouts, apparently weighed over 40 pounds and as a result made Wilder’s legs tired before the fight begun. Wilder explained he was not aware of the sheer weight of the costume as he had not tried it on before he made his entrance to the ring. Wilder further elaborated that due to Fury’s long entrance he had the outfit on for an excessive amount of time which significantly weekend his legs, saying the fatigue the costume caused was so severe that his legs were gone by the third round.
There were a couple of other factors Wilder felt contributed to his defeat. He also claimed that, despite deducting a point from Fury, referee Kenny Bayless was overly lenient towards the Englishman and allowed him to punch Wilder to the back of the head and neck. Furthermore, Wilder expressed disappointment with his assistant trainer Mark Breland who threw the towel in during the seventh round. In his post-fight interview Wilder said, “I’m a warrior, and I wish my corner had let me go out on my shield.” While it is clear Breland, a former world champion himself, was looking out for his fighter’s health, the view that he threw in the towel prematurely is echoed by head trainer Jay Deas and it is unclear as to whether Breland will remain part of Wilder’s camp going forwards.
What’s Next for Fury, Wilder and the Heavyweight Division?
Almost immediately after the conclusion of Saturday’s fight, boxing fans and media began speculating about the tantalising prospect of the now WBC champion Fury facing the IBF, WBA and WBO champion Anthony Joshua. This all-British clash has been talked about for years and now is bigger than ever as the victor would emerge as the undisputed heavyweight champion, holding all four belts and comfortably being able to call themselves the ‘baddest man on the planet’.
However, it appears this fight will not be next for Fury or Joshua as Deontay has come out saying he intends to exercise the rematch clause in the original contract for last Saturday’s bout. The clause states that the loser has 30 days to decide whether he wants a rematch which will be involve a 60-40 purse split in favour of the winner, in this case Fury. Wilder has stated he firmly believes the factors discussed above impacted his performance and the trilogy fight would result in a different outcome.
As of now, a third fight between Wilder and Fury may be a hard sell to the public after how Fury completely outclassed Wilder. However, given some time and due to both men’s ability to build and sell a fight, it is likely the trilogy fight would be a success. This bout is scheduled to take place sometime in July, however it may be pushed back as Wilder needs time to recover from the damage Fury inflicted.
As for Joshua, the Wilder-Fury trilogy fight means he will almost certainly face the IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev on June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium. This promises to be another stiff test for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist.
Despite having to wait for what would be the biggest fight in British history between Fury and Joshua, the heavyweight division is still sure to provide entertainment in the coming months. The threat of Wilder’s right hand means a third fight against Fury could go either way while Pulev is no walkover for Joshua, meaning there could be more memorable nights to come in boxing’s blue-ribbon division this year.