Tyson Fury retained his WBC heavyweight crown on Saturday with a spectacular 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder as their trilogy fight delivered a boxing classic.
In an epic battle in front of 15,820 fans at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, both fighters were knocked down on multiple occasions in a contest full of improbable twists and turns as the two rivals traded blows.
Fury looked to have gained the upper hand after flooring Wilder in the third round, only for the 35-year-old from Alabama to respond with two knockdowns of Fury that had the English champion clinging on desperately in the fourth.
But it was the bigger, heavier Fury — landing the cleaner and more damaging blows — who finished the stronger, and the champion had Wilder down once again in the 10th with a right hook.
Wilder responded bravely to that knockdown by wobbling Fury in return.
But the brutal energy-sapping nature of the fight, and Fury’s relentless physicality, finally took its toll on Wilder in the 11th.
With the American exhausted and on the ropes, Fury landed the decisive combination.
A right uppercut scrambled Wilder’s senses before Fury crashed a right hook into his opponent’s temple that sent the challenger tumbling to the canvas, barely conscious.
‘Don’t ever doubt me’
“Don’t ever doubt me,” Fury said afterwards. “When the chips are down I will always deliver.
“I give him the glory for the victory. He’s a tough man — he took some big shots tonight.
“It was a great fight tonight as well as any trilogy in history.”
Saturday’s bout was the third instalment of an acrimonious rivalry between Fury, the trash-talking self-styled “Gypsy King” and Wilder, the heavy-handed knockout specialist regarded as one of the most destructive punchers in the sport.
Fury had scored a seventh-round knockout of Wilder in their second fight 20 months ago, after the two men shared a controversial draw in their first meeting in Los Angeles in 2018.
Both fighters entered the ring on Saturday at their heaviest ever fighting weights, with Fury tipping the scales at 277lbs (125.6 kg) and Wilder at 238lbs.