Tyson Fury Caps Wild Trilogy With Late Knockout of Deontay Wilder

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Image“I always said I was the best in the world and he was the second best,” Fury said. “Don’t ever doubt me. When the chips are down, I will always deliver.”
Credit…Steve Marcus/Reuters

There’s no second-guessing it this time for Deontay Wilder. There’s no one else to blame, either. No trainer threw in the towel. The exotic costume he wore wasn’t as heavy. No judge can award him another fight.

For the second time in 20 months, Wilder tasted the devastating blows of Tyson Fury. Just like then, Wilder lost. In this iteration of the contest we’ve seen three times now, Fury (31-0-1) knocked out Wilder (42-2-1) in the 11th round, dropping him with a right hook near the ropes.

Wilder’s body collapsed limp into the center of the ring and the referee mercifully ended the bout. Fury raised his hands in victory as he walked to his corner knowing that he had retained the World Boxing Council heavyweight belt, which he had stripped from the same man so long ago when to Americans the coronavirus seemed like a distant problem on the other side of the world.

There are no moral victories, but to Wilder’s credit, he competed in a trilling fight. Unlike in their previous meeting in February 2020, Wilder forced Fury into the later rounds, zapping his energy and knocking him down twice. He handled the clinch of the larger man well in the beginning, too.

Fury, though, withstood the damage and also knocked Wilder down two times before the knockout. In Round 10, Wilder threw a punch, missed and Fury connected with a counter right, sending Wilder to the canvas.

Though Wilder recovered, it clearly hurt him heading into the next round, leading to the climatic finish.

“I always said I was the best in the world and he was the second best,” Fury said. “Don’t ever doubt me. When the chips are down, I will always deliver.”

The rubber match’s result should streamline the heavyweight division, which has stalled for months after the pandemic and the court system complicated this trilogy. Wilder most likely will compete against the winner of the fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua in a title unification bout. Usyk defeated Joshua via unanimous decision last month, and Joshua’s promoter told ESPN that the fighter had exercised his rematch clause.

Fury and Joshua had signed a two-fight deal in March, but an arbitrator ruled that Fury had to complete the trifecta with Wilder. The two also fought to a draw in 2018.

The third fight had been scheduled for July, but Fury and members of his camp tested positive for the coronavirus, postponing the bout until Saturday. In a locker room interview before the fight, Fury said he had contracted the virus twice.

Credit…Al Bello/Getty Images

Wilder bulked up to 238 pounds, the largest he ever weighed for his professional career. He fired his former trainer, Mark Breland and hired Malik Scott, a boxer whom he defeated in 2014, to diversify his approach.

In his last clash with Fury, Wilder said the 40-pound costume he wore weakened his legs. On Saturday, he walked with a minimalist (by his standards) robe. None of those factors saved him, though, from experiencing his second loss, and to the same person.

He will always be remembered as the man who defended his heavyweight belt 10 times, and as a powerful knockout artist. But Fury left no lingering questions and completed this trilogy in a conclusive fashion. The 15,820 spectators in T-Mobile Arena believed it. So did those who watched it on pay-per-view. Like it or not, Wilder will be forced to, as well.

“I did my best but it wasn’t good enough tonight,” Wilder said.

Credit…Chase Stevens/Associated Press

A giant right hand from a giant of a man provided an unambiguous ending to a wild fight.

Midway through Round 11, Tyson Fury landed a fight hand to Deontay Wilder’s temple, sending his longtime rival to the canvas for good, and successfully defending his World Boxing Council world heavyweight championship.

Until then, Fury, 6-foot-9 and 277 pounds, traded heavy punches with the 6-foot-7, 238-pound Wilder from close and long range. Wilder opened the fight concentrating on Fury’s body, and spearing him with jabs. Fury pressed forward, mauling, wrestling and landing clean rights and lefts.

Fury dropped Wilder in the third. Wilder decked Fury twice in the fourth. Fury knocked Wilder down again midway through Round 10, but finished the round in retreat as Wilder hammered him with big right hands.

Both fighters looked exhausted after setting a pace that seemed too hot to last 12 rounds. Fury ended it in the 11th, with a series of heavy right hands.

“I always said I’m the best in the world and he’s the second best,” Fury said in an in-ring interview.

Round 11: Both fighters threw the straight right at the same time. Wilder’s missed, Fury’s landed, and started this terminal sequence. A spent Wilder staggered around the ring as Fury hammered him. One final overhand right sent Wilder crashing to the canvas. The referee, Russell Mora, didn’t even bother counting. Tyson Fury wins. Definitively.

Round 10: Wilder threw a punch, missed and then Fury connected with a counter right, sending him to the ground. Wilder recovered though and finished the round landing punches near the ropes. Should be a good finish.

Round 9: Fury looks exhausted, but is still moving forward, throwing heavy punches, seeking a knockout. Wilder looks hurt and exhausted, but he’s still unloading hard shots, trying to land the one that will ned the fight. Fury was the aggressor, but Wilder might have stolen the round with a big uppercut just before the bell.

There are easily five rounds at least that could go either way — if this even gets to the poor judges.

Fury’s left jab. Sheeeeeesh.

Round 8: Think Fury won that round. Got in some solid punches, including a right hand near the ropes. Wilder threw a blow, missed and looked completely dazed.

Round 7: Fatigue is overtaking both fighters. Fury landed a pair of clean right hands that wobbled Wilder but couldn’t drop him. Wilder lined up Fury for his signature straight right and landed it. It made Fury freeze, but didn’t stop him. If either man was fresher this fight might be over already.

Round 6: It seems like Wilder’s gas tank is somewhat draining. After a lot of output, both fighters spent the last two rounds still gauging distance, but also getting in some punches. Wilder taking a knee, though, shows he’s getting a little tired.

Another sign was his corner telling him to “wake … up” with an expletive thrown in for good measure before Round 7.

Round 5: DIfficult round to score, if you’re unlucky enough to have to score this fight. Fury clinches and mauls on the inside. Wilder tries to measure Fury for that atomic right hand. Both men have some success. But just some.

Round 4: Wilder got his confidence back with two knockdowns in that round. You could see his emotion clearly when he walked back to the ropes while the referee continued his count.

Round 3: Wilder was winning the round — landing jabs and big right hands — until he wasn’t. Half a minute from the bell, Fury tagged him with an overhand right and a right uppercut, and dumped Wilder to the canvas. Wilder survived the round, but headed back to his corner on wobbly legs.

Textbook definition right there of “saved by the bell.”

Round 2: Both fighters had their moments and snuck in some clean punches. It’s early, but at least so far, it seems like Wilder is handling the clinch better than last time. We’ll see if that continues later.

Round 1: Wilder does what he said he would — works his jab and belts Fury’s body, which looks softer than it did for their last fight. Fury handled Wilder’s pressure well, and closed the round with a stiff jab and thudding right hand.

Credit…Steve Marcus/Reuters

Deontay Wilder continued the trend of entering the ring with an exotic costume. This time, though, instead of wearing a heavy armor set, he wore a red robe and red mask. The robe was accented with black feathers around the hood and a pair of silver wings on the back. Wilder claimed the attire he wore before facing Fury in February 2020 weakened his legs, contributing to the first loss of his career. This fashion choice is definitely lighter, so if he loses, that cannot be an excuse.

Fury also entered the ring in a creative costume, wearing a robe and a gold helmet like a Trojan warrior with a drummer and a dancer leading the way to the ring. After a mini monologue, Fury walked about to the AC/DC song “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

For the last fight, Wilder wore a jewel-encrusted suit that resembled a knight’s armor accented with black skulls. He wore a mask which lit up in red near his eyes and a crown. The set was said to cost $40,000.

He wore similar costumes in the past. In November 2019, he wore a lighter garb with slits to expose his chest with white-and-gold accented shoulder spikes, complete with a mask and crown.

In 2018, before his first fight against Wilder, he wore a similar mask and crown, but diverted from the armor by wearing a feathered robe.

These are two very large human beings in person.

Deontay Wilder is from Alabama. So of course Tyson Fury is playing this song in the locker room while waiting for the main event festivities to begin.

Fury’s troll game is unmatched.

While we wait for the fighters to make their entrances, just a reminder of how our critic Wesley Morris described Deontay Wilder’s getup last time around: “It was ‘Dr. Octagon Stages a Coup in Westeros.’ It was ‘Daft Punk Jetpacks to Wakanda.’”

Credit…Steve Marcus/Reuters

Frank Sanchez defeated Efe Ajagba via unanimous decision in Saturday’s co-main event to retain his heavyweight belt and undefeated record.

The two men took defensive approaches and did not throw many punches through the early part of the fight. But near the end of the seventh round, Sanchez landed a clean shot and knocked Ajagba down in the center of the ring. It brought the crowd that earlier booed the inaction to its feet.

Sanchez continued to be the aggressor through the end of the bout.

Credit…Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The tension between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder has escalated this week, and it’s understandable even beyond the normal tactics used to build up a prizefight.

This is what happens when the coronavirus pandemic, the legal system and hearsay disrupt a highly-anticipated trilogy fight between two of the best fighters in boxing’s marquee weight class. It is but added drama that they don’t like each other.

The grudge match comes after months of setbacks, delays and bureaucracy.

Wilder was upset when he lost the last fight to Fury, their second, in February 2020. Fury was dominant and by the seventh round, Wilder’s trainer, Mark Breland, saw the damage on his fighter’s body and threw in the towel.

Wilder immediately rejected the decision by his corner.

“I just wish that my corner would have let me go out on my shield,” Wilder said in the ring.

He exercised a rematch clause for a third bout, and blamed his bad performance on a bevy of unsupported rationalizations. He claimed the costume he wore while entering the ring — a 40-pound skull-themed knight armor set intended to note Black History Month — weakened his legs. He also accused Fury, without evidence, of fighting with tampered gloves.

“Maybe if you’d come out with one of these excuses, which would have been believable, but not 50 of them, come on,” Fury said. “What it tells me is that he’s a weak, mental little person who I am going to knock out on Saturday night.”

The pandemic and failed negotiations affected the third fight’s timing, and Fury began talking with another heavyweight, Anthony Joshua, and in March signed a two-fight deal to unify their titles. But an arbitrator ruled in May that Fury had to fight Wilder by Sept. 15. The bout was then slated for July, but Fury and members of his team tested positive for the virus, postponing the event until now.

Some boos from the arena in Round 5. The crowd doesn’t like the slow pace.

Not a lot of output so far through three rounds. This is a chess match.

Recognize the name Efe Ajagba? He’s the other fighter in the viral video from 2018 in which Curtis Harper left the ring after the pre-fight glove touch. Harper, who felt he deserved a bigger payday after learning his bout would be televised, walked out in protest, making Ajagba the winner by disqualification.

Credit…Chase Stevens/Associated Press

Late in Round 3, Robert Helenius landed a right hand and left jab that buckled Adam Kownacki’s knees. The salvo was just the latest in a string of combinations Helenius had used to open a lead on the scorecards and raise lumps on his opponent’s face.

Kownacki, Polish-born and Brooklyn-raised, responded with his hardest punches of the fight — a right and a left, both below the belt.

The shots didn’t count, naturally. They bought Kownacki a few minutes to regroup, and a stern warning from the referee, but they didn’t alter the rhythm of the fight. Kownacki, who was undefeated before Helenius knocked him out in their first meeting, in March of 2020, is a volume puncher who dialed back his output hoping to tighten his defense.

It didn’t work against Helenius, a 6-foot-7 contender from Finland. Helenius landed jabs, right hands and body punches, and forced referee Celestino Ruiz to consider stopping the fight in Round 5.

Midway through the sixth, another low blow provided the pretense. Ruiz stopped the fight. Helenius celebrated, and Kownacki looked relieved.

Helenius, who served as Deontay Wilder’s main sparring partner, is now 31-3 with 19 knockouts.

Robert Helenius’s second bout with Adam Kownacki began the way their first one ended – with Helenius bouncing punches off of Kownacki’s bald head. Their first fight, in March 2020, ended with an upset knockout for Helenius, who was supposed to serve as a steppingstone for Kownacki, then a rising prospect.

 

And the rematch ended with Helenius pounding Kownacki into something approaching submission. Helenius landed right hands and left jabs, snapping Kownacki’s head back, and swelling his eyes. Kownacki could only respond with low blows, one of which prompted referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the lopsided fight and award it to Helenius, a 37-year-old from Finland.

Though it’s starting to fill up, T-Mobile Arena still has a lot of empty seats left, and the main event is about two fights away. Interested to see the final ticket sales.

Credit…Chase Stevens/Associated Press

Jared Anderson effortlessly defeated Vladimir Tereshkin via second-round stoppage. The 21-year old cleanly stalked the Russian down near the ropes and landed a clean shot that dazed him. The referee, seeing the look on Tereshkin’s face, soon stopped the fight after Anderson landed more blows.

Anderson, a heavyweight from Toledo, Ohio, remains undefeated at 10-0.

In an interview from his locker room, Tyson Fury said he had Covid-19 twice. We already knew about one of those instances — when this bout originally scheduled for July was postponed because of an outbreak in Fury’s camp.

Credit…Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Edgar Berlanga, a 24-year-old power puncher from Brooklyn, settled in, survived a knockdown, and won a 10-round unanimous decision over Marcelo Esteban Coceres, using forward movement and heavy punches to raise a welt on Coceres’ left eye. All three judges scored the fight 96-93 for Berlanga.

Berlanga started his career with 16 straight first-round knockouts, a streak that earned him attention but forced his handlers to seek out tougher matchups, against foes he couldn’t overwhelm with pure power. Coceres circled early, boxed cautiously, and whiplashed Berlanga’s head with a left hook in the fifth round. The next round, he rattled Berlanga again with a pair of right hands.

Berlanga took the initiative in the bout’s second half, showing patience and confidence that he could win without relying on raw power. But Coceres dropped him with a counter right hand to the temple late in Round 9, showcasing the gap in skill between Berlanga, who remains undefeated, and the 168-pound division’s elite fighters.

If nobody else recognized the milestone Marcelo Esteban Coceres achieved in reaching the end of Round 3 on his feet, let’s do it here. The Argentine became the first of Edgar Berlanga’s 18 professional opponents to go three complete rounds without hitting the canvas.

Cameras in T-Mobile Arena just showed that Tyson Fury arrived. Compared with the custom-made suit he wore at a news conference Wednesday, he’s casual this time in a T-shirt, shorts and a hat.

Deontay Wilder created his reputation by usually delivering devastating knockouts to his opponents, and he successfully defended his World Boxing Council heavyweight belt 10 times. He did so with his unique twist. Normally, before he enters the ring and unloads punches, he does what many children do on Halloween: he puts on a costume.

Wilder is completing a trilogy of fights with Tyson Fury, the 6-foot-9 Englishman who defeated Wilder via technical knockout in February 2020. Wilder, 35, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., created a litany of unsubstantiated reasons for suffering the first loss of his career.

One of them, he claimed, was that the extravagant 40-pound costume he wore into the ring weakened his legs.

That night, he wore a jewel-encrusted suit that resembled a knight’s armor accented with black skulls. He wore a mask which lit up in red near his eyes and a crown. The set was said to cost $40,000.

He wore similar costumes in the past. In November 2019, he wore a lighter garb with slits to expose his chest with white-and-gold accented shoulder spikes, complete with a mask and crown.

In 2018, before his first fight against Wilder, he wore a similar mask and crown, but diverted from the armor by wearing a feathered robe.

And don’t expect him to forgo the exotic attire this time even after the debacle last February. The designers of Wilder’s suit told TMZ that his get-up this time around will be “significantly lighter.”

In the first televised preliminary bout, Vladimir Hernandez came back in the late rounds to sneak past Julian Williams with an impressive split decision. It’s surprising not just because Williams appeared to be up early, but because he had quickly given Hernandez a nasty cut above the right eye and soon gained an even bigger advantage with a gash over Hernandez’s left eye because of an accidental head clash.

This trilogy bout between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury offers Wilder a change to avenge his the only loss of his professional career — a defeat he suffered in humiliating fashion.

For much of the fight in February 2020, Fury stalked Wilder down, setting in aggressive pace and landing clean blows. Fury weighed 273 pounds, and he used that 43-pound advantage on the scale effectively and clinched with Wilder, forcing him to carry his weight. He knocked Wilder down in the third and fifth rounds. By the seventh, Wilder’s trainer, Mark Breland, threw in a white towel. The referee stopped the contest and Fury won via technical knockout.

After changing his trainer, proclaiming a litany of excuses for his loss and winning an arbitration case to force Fury to fight him, Wilder now has an opportunity to correct his mistakes.

Credit…Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

The heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will be televised on both Fox Sports’ and ESPN’s pay-per-view platforms in the United States, with a price of $79.99. The pay-per-view card begins at 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. And yes, it’s a bit unusual to have two big sports networks carry the same event, though that’s one of the quirks sometimes present in boxing.

Fury is promoted by Top Rank, which has a media deal with ESPN, and Wilder fights under the banner of Premier Boxing Champions, which broadcasts its fights with Fox Sports and Showtime. That rival promoters and broadcast platforms have cooperated to stage the last two Fury-Wilder matchups hints at how significant these events are in the boxing world.

A two-hour preliminary card began at 7 p.m. Eastern, and in the United States it is being televised on both ESPN and Fox Sports 1. A set of early prelims also streamed on ESPN’s YouTube channel.

The main event between Wilder and Fury main event will likely begin after 11 p.m. Eastern — and perhaps closer to midnight Eastern. It depends heavily on the results of earlier fights.

Here’s a look at the bouts on the main card and the preliminary card (note that sometimes bouts can change with little or no notice):

  • Tyson Fury (30-0-1) vs. Deontay Wilder (42-1-1), World Boxing Council World heavyweight title, 12 rounds

  • Efe Ajagba (15-0) vs. Frank Sanchez (18-0), World Boxing Council Continental Americas and World Boxing Organization N.A.B.O. heavyweight title, 10 rounds

  • Robert Helenius (30-3) vs. Adam Kownacki (20-1), heavyweight, 12 rounds

  • Jared Anderson (9-0) vs. Vladimir Tereshkin (22-1), heavyweight, eight rounds

  • Edgar Berlanga (17-0) vs. Marcelo Esteban Coceres (30-2-1), vacant World Boxing Organization N.A.B.O. super middleweight title, 10 rounds

  • Julian Williams (27-2-1) vs. Vladimir Hernandez (12-4), super welterweight, 10 rounds

Credit…Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via Associated Press

Fury (30-0-1, 21 knockouts) will never moonlight as a bodybuilder, but he hit the weights before his previous bout with Wilder and weighed in then at 273 solid, if not chiseled, pounds. Wilder weighed a sculpted 231 pounds, but promised his punching power would negate the weight disadvantage.

He was wrong, and their bout devolved into a one-sided drubbing. Ahead of this third fight, Wilder (42-1-1, 41 knockouts) has sprinkled the internet with his own weight-training highlights. One clip shows him bench pressing progressively heavier weight, until he maxes out at 350 pounds.

On Friday, Wilder weighed in at 238 pounds, while Fury weighed 277 pounds. Unlike in other divisions where strategic weight cutting has become the norm, fans can expect the fighters to weigh about the same on Saturday night.

From a functional standpoint, Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott, said the added muscle mass would help Wilder withstand Fury’s clinching and mauling, which helped drain Wilder’s energy during their last bout.

“It will help Deontay be a lot more physical if it comes to clinches,” said Scott, who lost to Wilder in 2015. “It’ll help him be a lot more dynamic.”

But the fighter himself says functional strength is merely a helpful byproduct. His real motivation to add muscle mass in training camp?

“Mostly just for the looks of it,” Wilder said.

Credit…Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via Associated Press

Just how heavy are these heavyweights?

Sonny Liston weighed 215½ pounds when he successfully defended his heavyweight title against the 195½-pound Floyd Patterson in 1963. The next year, Liston, considered a large heavyweight, weighed 218 pounds when he lost the championship to the 206-pound Muhammad Ali.

Since then, heavyweights in general have grown. Anthony Joshua, dethroned last month by Oleksandr Usyk, stands 6-foot-6 and weighed 240 pounds for his last fight. Tyson Fury first won the heavyweight title in 2015 from the 6-foot-6, 247-pound Wladimir Klitschko.

The elite fighters in the division have grown so large that the World Boxing Council created a new class — bridgerweight, which has a limit of at 224 pounds — aimed at fighters heavier than the 200-pound cruiserweight limit, but too small to compete with the 6-foot-7 Wilder and the 6-foot-9 Fury.

Malik Scott, Deontay Wilder’s trainer, said Fury’s size would work against him if Wilder followed through on their game plan.

“Fury was blessed by God with a lot of body — for Deontay Wilder to beat up,” said Scott, who briefly served as Fury’s sparring partner in 2012.

Of course, size alone doesn’t guarantee success for a heavyweight. Otherwise the 7-foot-tall Nikolai Valuev and the 7-foot-1 Julius Long would rank among the all-time greats. But for a skilled, versatile fighter like Fury, outlier size adds a dimension that he thinks opponents cannot handle.

“I’m setting a landmark here,” Fury told reporters last week. “Two hundred and 70-plus, 6-foot-9. Stop me if you can. Like a steamroller, coming towards you.”

Credit…Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via Associated Press

Both Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury have promised to win by knockout. They can’t both be right.

In their first bout, Fury employed the cautious, counterpunching style that carried him to a world title, and the hard-hitting Wilder still clipped him. A thunderous right hand and left hook dropped Fury in the 12th round, and, in a bout Wilder was losing on the scorecards, scored Wilder enough points to earn a draw.

Before the rematch, Fury promised aggression, and Wilder’s one-punch power couldn’t save him from wilting under Fury’s pressure.

This time, Scott says Wilder can’t depend on power at the expense of other tactics.

“For the past 10, 12 years I’ve watched a guy have a toolbox and only use one tool,” Scott said. “That toolbox has at least 100 tools, and he would always go in the fight and use one, maybe two. We have to go in this toolbox and drill everything, because it’s been collecting dust from sitting so long. That’s what we did. We started from the foundation on up.”

One training camp, Wilder says, didn’t convert him from a power puncher to a chess player. Instead, he says Scott has awakened the latent boxer inside him. He says he will diversify his attack, but he is still is aiming for a spectacular finish.

“People always talk about skills when they don’t have the power, but any fighter, they would love to have power, because we don’t get paid for overtime,” Wilder said. “It’s all good and dandy to show a couple of skills, but at the end of the day or end of the night, especially with heavyweights, people come to see the knockout.”

Expect roughly the same game plan from Tyson Fury.

Sometimes, Fury says the change in his fighting style happened in the training camp before his second fight with Deontay Wilder, when the trainer Javan Hill (nicknamed Sugar) remade him in the mold of the boxer-punchers Hill had coached at the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit.

“It only took me six weeks to go from a slick-boxing counterpuncher to an aggressive knockout puncher,” Fury said.

Other times, Fury says the new game plan occurred to him after rising from the knockdown in the last round of the first Wilder fight. Fury spent the second half of that round moving forward, and blunted Wilder’s offense in the process. He carried that strategy into the rematch and won by a technical knockout in the seventh round.

But before this fight, Fury says his tactics won’t change. He aims to trade punches with Wilder and force the former champion to deal with it.

“I’m gonna go all guns blazing, full-out attack,” Fury said. “All infantry, straight out the door, from Round 1.”





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