Earlier this week, Deontay Wilder said Tyson Fury should be thankful for ‘feeding’ him. Oh, how quickly things can change. After being humbled with a R7 TKO defeat – the first loss of his pro career – Deontay’s sloppy display has propelled Fury further into dizzying heights and gifted him the WBC heavyweight strap too.
During their first bout, Wilder was outclassed technically but two late knockdowns earned him a controversial split decision draw. 14 months later, both men weighed significantly more in attempts to gain an advantage for their much-anticipated rematch.
Wilder, who came into this bout at a career-high 231 pounds with his ripped physique and scary knockout power to boot, was send flying to the canvas twice before round six.
He was bullied across the ring from the opening bell, on the way to a stunning defeat that seemed inevitable given his awkward boxing style – nonetheless a shocking one.
“I brought you back, put food on your table. I’m doing it for a second time, don’t forget that. I found you when you were strung out on coke, as big as a house and contemplating killing yourself. I brought you to big-time boxing and rehabilitated him back.” – Wilder on Fury during Wednesday’s press conference
Wilder exposed, but in a different way this time
During their first fight, Wilder was being made to miss his punches by Fury – whose ringcraft and defensive abilities are well-known, even if that bout happened to be one he took while far from 100% fitness.
In this rematch, the script was flipped entirely from the opening bell. Fury raced towards him, forcing the champion back – something he’s not used to dealing with. Despite landing a few defiant punches on Fury, this was a sign of things to come.
Wilder’s footwork was, as it usually is, all over the place. He kept his right hand cocked like a gun itching to fire, but round three was a pivotal three minutes – where he truly felt Tyson’s power.
In their first fight, Fury didn’t really hurt him enough or land many big shots to justify such respect. This was supposed to be a repeat performance but alas, R3 was where you could see Wilder visibly realising he was in a completely different bout.
After the pair were separated for what felt like the umpteenth time in the clinch, Fury landed a beautiful left-right combination and Wilder – who did well to absorb a stinging shot earlier – fell like a ton of bricks.
With legs like jelly and a flawed gameplan that continued to look futile by the minute, Wilder had to survive rounds and avoid unnecessary damage. By the start of R5, this fight was only ending one way: a knockout.
Minimal head movement, coupled with his constant backpedalling towards the ropes, was inviting pressure at every turn. His corner were in disbelief. They couldn’t even begin to give him productive advice.
A busted ear drum, bloodied mouth and increasingly poor shot defence as the fight continued, you couldn’t begrudge his assistant trainer Mark Breland for throwing in the towel midway through R7 – regardless of what was said beforehand.
The Compubox stats don’t lie: Wilder threw 55 punches and landed 18 (33%) over the seven rounds. Fury meanwhile, recorded triple that amount – 160 with 58 landed (36%).
Fury makes good on his knockout promise, silences critics
Press forward, walk him down, make things uncomfortable and ask questions of his suspect defensive abilities. That was the gameplan.
Fury, who won most rounds in their initial fight, raised eyebrows with his knockout admission – he wasn’t going to let this bout go the distance. So although he didn’t get the round correct, it would have felt more fulfilling to win in such comprehensive fashion: Wilder’s camp threw in the towel.
Dominant with his jab, he immediately set the pace while keeping Wilder at length whenever he edged toward him for sustained periods. Referee Kenny Bayless warned both fighters to watch their heads and listen when he told them to break from the clinch position. Fury and his 6’9, 273-pound frame, wasn’t going to comply so easily.
He wanted Wilder to feel the weight discrepancy, tire him out and force more mistakes from a fatigued fighter with a one-dimensional gameplan – as dangerous as it is – so did precisely that.
That R3 knockdown was a catalyst for Fury to continue picking his shots against Wilder – he ‘slipped’ in R4, was frequently stumbling and looked unsteady, as commentators shouted Deontay had an ‘equilibrium problem’, one that wasn’t going to suddenly disappear.
Continuing to grapple and bang, Wilder was floored again midway through R5 – this time with a punch-perfect body shot. Fury was given a point deduction after ignoring Bayless’ commands while in the clinch, though his dominance was on full display and this wouldn’t last much longer.
To have the presence of mind and sheer audacity to lick Wilder’s blood as they engaged in the clinch again at the end of R6 was startling. Three minutes later, he was officially crowned world champion again.
Wilder was made to miss a combination, before Fury again backed him into a corner and landed a flurry of shots as Wilder had no response. The beating was finally over.
Deontay didn’t want his corner to stop the fight and was naturally frustrated by the stoppage, even though it seemed inevitable given the punishment he was absorbing as the rounds continued. When asked about how he was feeling though, he said:
“I’m doing good, things like this happen, the best man won tonight but my side threw in the towel and you know I’m ready to go out on my shield. I had a lot of things going on, coming into this fight.
My legs were already weak coming in but I make no excuses, I just wish they [his corner] let me go out on my shield – I’m a warrior and that’s what I do. He [Fury] did what he did, we’ll come back and be stronger.”
After being outlanded 82-34 in total punches, he was also asked how he recovers after suffering his first professional defeat:
“Even the greatest have lost and come back, that’s just part of it. You take it for what it is, no excuses, a lot of complications but like I said, we’ll come back stronger next time around. This is what big-time boxing is about, the best must fight the best.”
As for the new champion, he had plenty of people to thank before speaking – including Jesus Christ, both promoters and a number of his sponsors.
“Big shoutout to Wilder, he came here tonight and really did show the heart of a champion. I hit him with a clean right-hand and dropped him, he got back up and battled into round seven. He’s a warrior, will be back and a champion again. I will say though, the King has returned to the top of the throne.”
Then in typical Fury fashion, the 31-year-old proceeded to serenade the crowd with a rendition of Don McLean’s American Pie.
Being the away fighter at an electric MGM Grand, he got 17,500+ spectators to sing along minutes after witnessing their champion’s undefeated streak evaporate without warning. The charisma and gravitas Fury has will only skyrocket after this latest result.
So, does Wilder exercise the trilogy fight after such a comprehensive loss? Stay tuned…