Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder III lived up to the hype surrounding it and then some. On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Fury and Wilder showed the world what a heavyweight championship bout should look like. Fury retained his heavyweight championships along with his undefeated (31-0-1) record. The match was hard-hitting from the first bell as the two heavyweights combined for five total knockdowns in this epic fight.
When we look back on this fight, what will be remembered even more than the result is the unwillingness of Wilder to go down and stay down through most of the contest. Wilder was able to drop Fury not once but twice in the fourth round.
Wilder put up a spectacular Round 4, but after that, the girth of Fury looked like it had begun to wear down Deontay. With each passing minute from the fifth round on, it seemed Wilder was simply trying to hold on and make it through the fight.
It was good to see Wilder as the aggressor early on, especially in the first round, using his left jab more effectively than in either of their previous fights. During his career, Wilder has developed the reputation of being a puncher, not necessarily a boxer. But if he catches his opponent with his right, the lights can go out in a hurry, as Fury almost found out early in this contest.
Whenever you get two fighters of similar ability and attributes, the more technically sound of the two will usually win. A more technically sound boxer simply has more to fall back on than the puncher. More tools in their box. That’s not a knock; it’s just what we’ve seen play out. People can talk about loaded gloves, heavy costumes, blame referees — it doesn’t matter. The more skilled boxer won.
I thought the fighters split the first four rounds of the fight, then Wilder took the fifth, and from the sixth round on, Fury dominated the bout. Fury seemed to get a second wind halfway through this one using his weight advantage to lean on Wilder, fatiguing him and hitting him with some bone-crushing blows from which Wilder defiantly refused to go down. From about 7-11, Wilder looked to be out on his feet. Every time the ref stepped in to ask Wilder if he was okay, he showed enough awareness to continue.
Referee Russell Mora has also come under scrutiny for slow counting Fury after Wilder knocked him down in the fourth round. Regardless, I don’t think Fury was staying down for the entire 10-count on either of those knockdowns.
The term instant classic is suitable for this fight. I think it is, at least. Ever since the heavyweight division has taken a backseat to lower weight classes over the past 20 plus years, a brawl like this is just what the heavyweight world needed from its top two competitors. Hopefully, boxing can follow this up with another tremendous heavyweight bout for the ages.
I won’t hold my breath, but hey, anything can happen.