IT LOOKED like a foregone conclusion. In one corner was a flabby giant of a man weighing in at 126kg. In the other was a sleek, lean, muscular fighter stopping the scale at 108kg.
Watching Tyson Fury lumbering around the ring while Deontay Wilder danced about lightly made you wonder if the bigger man stood a chance. The men, both heavyweight champions, had come to blows twice before, but neither was satisfied with how those fights ended. This time would be different, they promised.
Yet the odds seemed to be stacked against Britain’s Fury (33).
He tested positive for Covid-19 in July and the original fight date had to be postponed. A month later his wife, Paris, gave birth to their sixth child, Athena, and the baby spent a fortnight in the ICU connected to a ventilator.
Fury was by her side and not in the gym so when he stepped into the ring in Las Vegas, he wasn’t in the greatest shape.
For boxing fans, it was a clash of the titans. The men’s first battle ended in a draw and their second saw Fury take the World Boxing Council heavyweight belt from Wilder (36), who protested his ring entry costume had been “too heavy” and that his trainer shouldn’t have thrown in the towel.
This time the men fought for 11 gruelling rounds, with Wilder knocking his towering opponent down twice.
Fury, however, was relentless, using a seemingly bottomless reserve of stamina and his bulk to rain fury on his opponent.
In the 10th round, the 2,06m-tall Gypsy King delivered a mighty right hook which sent Wilder to the canvas. In the 11th round the 2,01m-tall American collapsed after another devastating right hook from Fury and it was all over.
“I always said I was the best in the world and he was the second best,” Fury said afterwards. “Don’t ever doubt me. When the chips are down, I will always deliver.”
He was done with Wilder for good, he added.
“It was definitely a historic trilogy. It swung both ways, both fighters had the opportunity to seize the moment and it was just that I showed the initiative and dug deeper. I wanted it more. Because at the end of the day, when it comes down to that sort of fight, it’s who’s willing to push further.”
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