In the end, Tyson Fury scored victory and regained a portion of the heavyweight championship Saturday night. However, how we got there was both weird and unsatisfying for a rematch we had been anticipating for over a year with Deontay Wilder.
First, Fury deserves a tremendous amount of credit for fighting a tactically smart fight.
He used every bit of his 273 lb. to maul, clutch, lay on and occasionally punch Wilder. All the while, wearing down the unbeaten WBC champ.
Whether that was a tactic that he set out with from a game plan to enact or something that just evolved as the fight went on, Fury was effective and Wilder got more fatigued as the rounds went by. Finally in the 7th, Fury had Wilder trapped in a corner and then, eventually stopped him winning by TKO.
But, now, let’s get to what the fight wasn’t.
It wasn’t a classic.
Rather, it was a sloppy, mauling fight where Fury landed more of the significant punches, but not nearly enough consistent, clean ones to say that he was great.
Meanwhile, Wilder seemed overmatched and bewildered and from the time he was hit with a glancing blow off his shoulder and the back of his head in round three he wasn’t the same.
From then on, he was a wobbly, sloppy, apprehensive fighter.
That same punch likely damaged Wilder’s eardrum, and his ear continued to bleed throughout the remainder of the fight complicating things more for the champ.
There was a second knock down in round five ruled by referee Kenny Bayless.
But, again. that even wasn’t clean, as it looked more like a shoving left hand to the right side on an off-balanced Wilder, who was tripping on his own feet.
Still, this was obviously all taking a toll on Wilder and his corner, too, which includes a former Olympic and World Welterweight Champion Mark Breland. And, it includes the man that discovered him and trained him from the very beginning, Jay Deas.
But, even though, they were clearly rattled enough by what they were seeing done to Wilder in the 5th, the 6th and the 7th rounds, it was Breland decided to throw in the towel.
And an hour after the fight, Deas told the media that he didn’t agree with the decision to throw the towel, but understood Breland’s concern.
And, for those that have followed the sport for decades, it’s more weird to see a corner give up in the middle of the 7th round on an unbeaten champion , especially when seemingly there was still a chance he could land a huge punch, which is his trademark and best weapon.
Further, when the end came, it’s not as if Wilder was helpless and taking punishment. In fact, his hands were up blocking and deflecting several of Fury’s punches in the last barrage. Wilder even threw and missed a left hook out of that corner just before the towel came in.
Yet, it ended.
And, the argument will be “live to fight another day.”
As in, fight #3 with Fury sometime down the line.
Finally, none of this should diminish the completion of the come back from Fury having stepped away from boxing for nearly three years. And during that time, he admittedly was abusing drugs and alcohol and ballooning to nearly 400 lb.
The fact that he got back into shape to fight at the highest level 14 months ago with Wilder in the first fight draw and then, broke through Saturday night and succeed in beating Wilder by TKO is a true credit to him.
He has now regained a portion of the heavyweight title for the first time, since he defeated Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, but then, vacated all the belts and walked away from the sport.
The record book will forever show: Saturday night, February 22nd as the historic night Tyson Fury can be called Heavyweight Champ, again.
Now, at some point and maybe even later this year, we will see a third fight between the two, because there is a mandatory rematch clause for the loser.
But, on this rainy Saturday night in the Vegas desert, Fury got his hand raised and handed Deontay Wilder his first ever professional loss.
And, for the “Gypsy King” and his legions of fans from the U.K. especially, there’s nothing “weird” about that.