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Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III: A breathtaking heavyweight epic

Photo by Ryan Hafey/ Premier Boxing Champions
Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS – In an all-time epic heavyweight championship fight in which both champion and challenger were down multiple times, Tyson Fury finally put Deontay Wilder away with a thunderous right hand in the 11th round to retain The Ring championship and WBC title on Saturday night.

It was a breathtaking battle – the obvious fight of the year so far – from start to finish in which most of the crowd of 15,820 at T-Mobile Arena stood as Fury and Wilder slugged it out and finished a rare and historic heavyweight championship trilogy in dramatic fashion.

They had promised this kind of fight throughout the build-up, with Fury declaring, “I’m going to go all guns blazing, full-out attack, all in victory, straight out of the door from Round 1 until it finishes. It’s either going to be me or Wilder,” and Wilder telling everyone to “get ready for war. This is going to be an amazing fight.”

They fulfilled their promises in spades as Fury proved his dominance over Wilder by winning the trilogy 2-0-1 with two knockouts and giving boxing fans memories forever from their 30 rounds together.

“I have never, ever seen a heavyweight fight like this,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter, said. “Two tremendous warriors.”

There were five total knockdowns with Fury flooring Wilder in the third round, Wilder dropping Fury twice in the fourth round, Fury decking Wilder in the 10th and Fury ending the fight with the big knockout blow in the 11th to conclude their three-year fistic rivalry.

“This was a great fight and October 9, 2021 will go down in history, I hope,” said Fury, who sang in the ring, as usual, after his interview.” I always said I was the best in the world and he was the second best. Don’t ever doubt me. When the chips are down, I will always deliver.”

Wilder left the ring quickly and was taken to University Medical Center as a precaution but said, “I did my best but it wasn’t good enough tonight. I’m not sure what happened. I know that in training, he did certain thing and I also knew that he didn’t come in at 277 pounds to be a ballet dancer. He came to lean on me, try to rough me up and he succeeded.”

Fury was ahead on all three scorecards — 95-91, 95-92, 94-92 — at the time of the stoppage.

They met for the first time in December 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and the fight was ruled a split draw after Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches but Wilder scored two knockdowns, one in the ninth round and a massive one in the 12th round that Fury barely survived.

In a hugely hyped rematch on February 22, 2020, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Fury dominated. He knocked Wilder down twice to retain the lineal title, win the vacant Ring championship and take Wilder’s WBC belt. He dropped Wilder in the third and fifth rounds and was teeing off on him in the seventh round when Wilder’s now-fired co-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel to end the bout. Neither had fought since.

After the loss, Wilder immediately exercised his contractual right to a rematch but ultimately had to go to arbitration to enforce his rights while also making numerous accusations and excuses for the loss. Among them, he said Breland had conspired with Fury’s team and spiked his water to make him weak, claimed the costume he wore for his ring walk was too heavy and left him with no energy and accused Fury of tampering with his gloves to give him an advantage.

The fight had been scheduled for July 24 but, two weeks beforehand, Fury came down with COVID-19 and it was postponed until Saturday night. It was worth the wait.

“Like the great John Wayne said, iron and steel, baby,” Fury said. “[Wilder]’s a tough man. He took some big shots tonight. It was a great fight tonight as well as any trilogy in history.”

Wilder, in his first fight with close friend Malik Scott as his head trainer, after promoting him from an assistant position and demoting longtime trainer Jay Deas, opened the fight by jabbing repeatedly to Fury’s body and trying to back him up. He was very aggressive but Fury got more aggressive in the second round as the slugfest broke out.

Fury had a huge third round. After he was warned for wrestling and grabbing Wilder, Fury landed a right-left combination to drop Wilder.

Wilder came back tremendously strong in the fourth round with two knockdowns to nearly end the fight. He felled Fury to all fours with his money right hand but Fury rose at referee Russell Mora’s count of seven with about 30 seconds to go in the round.

Moments later, Wilder landed another hard right hand that dropped Fury awkwardly in the center of the ring in the final seconds — but he again beat the count and the round ended.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 09: Deontay Wilder (L) knocks down Tyson Fury (R) during their fight for The Ring and WBC heavyweight titles at T-Mobile Arena on October 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Deontay Wilder knocks down Tyson Fury during the third round of their fight for The Ring and WBC heavyweight titles at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Whatever game plans the fighters brought to the ring were long gone by now as they simply went to battle in an effort to destroy each other.

In the sixth round, Fury cracked Wilder with a right hand that forced him to hold on but later Wilder cornered Fury and was landing with authority. Fury shook his head at Wilder and went back at him.

Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs), 33, of England, who retained the lineal title for the seventh time and Ring/WBC titles for the first time, forced Wilder to the ropes in the seventh round and landed a heavy right hand. Later in the round, a right hand and uppercut connected and had Wilder in trouble.

Fury, in his second fight with SugarHill Steward as his head trainer, landed another brutal right hand in the eighth round and, by the end of the frame, Wilder looked absolutely exhausted. He was stumbling and unsteady in the ninth round as Fury stalked him but, every now and then, he’d land a right hand or a hook to get Fury’s attention. He also landed an uppercut in the final moments.

They both took tremendous punishment and it was surprising that it had reached the 10th round, which is when Fury slammed home a right hand that sent Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), 35, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to the deck with a little over a minute left. Wilder got up quickly and finished the round well.

However in the 11th round, Wilder still looked very unsteady and Fury forced him to the corner, where he unleashed a massive right hand that dropped Wilder face-first and prompted Mora to wave the fight off. The official time was 1:10.

October 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Tyson Fury knocks out Deontay Wilder in Round 11 of their rubber-match classic. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

According to CompuBox statistics, Fury landed 150 of 385 punches (39 percent) and Wilder connected with 72 of 355 blows (20 percent). The 150 landed on Wilder is the most ever landed by an opponent.

“I want to say if it wasn’t for Sugar, America’s and Detroit’s own, I wouldn’t have gotten through that fight tonight,” Fury said of his trainer. “I wouldn’t have got through that fight tonight. He said, ‘Get your jab working, big guy, and throw that right hand down the middle. That’s how the big dogs do it.”



The Canelo-Charlo clash is the cover story to the September 2023 issue of The Ring. Art by Richard T. Slone