IN a world heavyweight championship fight of extraordinary ferocity Tyson Fury sent Deontay Wilder spinning down to the canvas with a monstrous right hook to end their rivalry at 1-10 of the 11th round at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
That was the last punch of their trilogy of fights and the end of a contest that had seen both men hurt, badly at times, and both showing real fortitude as they rose, again and again, and traded innumerable power punches. Few other heavyweights could have endured the punishment they handed one another over the course of this remarkable battle.
It began with a wait as Wilder kept Fury, the heavyweight champion and WBC belt-holder, idling in his dressing room as the American took his time to make his ring entrance. But at the first bell they didn’t hesitate to engage. Wilder targeted the body with jabs and slinging right hands. That back hand was fast and dangerous. It found its way through.
In the first round Fury stepped off him, in the second he ground forward, leaning his weight down on Wilder when he mauled up close.
The third round was explosive. Wilder clubbed hard rights down but just as it looked like he was gaining the ascendancy, Fury smashed him into the ropes with a left hook and a right hand, as Wilder reeled into the centre of the ring, an uppercut and a left hook scythed him down.
But if it looked in that moment like he was a losing man, Wilder didn’t believe it. He rose, he recovered and he put Fury through hell in the fourth round. A straight right blasted through to stagger Fury and have him stumble down. It took him a while to rise as well but he beat the count, only for more hurtful punches to catch him, shock and drop him a second time all in the same round.
Fury though has shown remarkable resilience before and tonight was no exception. In the sixth round he stuck his jab into Wilder and even when the American swung for him, he beckoned Wilder on. The American would oblige. Fury though made use of his left, knocking his jab into Wilder’s chin and hurting him with each of those connections. It helped him get back on top of the fight, backing up Wilder when he drove heavy rights down after his jab. He forced Wilder into the ropes, blasting one-twos down and seizing him up in clinches.
Wilder’s work was becoming ragged, he looked tired and disorganised. Yet even when Fury seemed to stun him, Wilder stayed on his feet through punishing rounds and kept finding wickedly hard rights to clip Fury with real force as he came on.
In the 10th round Fury ducked a left and knocked Wilder off his feet with a countering right. That shot contained terrible force and stiffened Wilder’s legs before he even hit the canvas. Yet Wilder even managed to finish the round well, seeming to stagger Fury as he unleashed wild hooks himself. Ultimately though it was Fury who found the conclusive finish. He had Wilder on the ropes and then uncorked a right hook that severed the American, momentarily, from his senses. He turned, watching Wilder crumple to the canvas. He knew at once he didn’t need to throw another punch. The Wilder trilogy was over. Fury had won.