In the aftermath of Deontay Wilder’s second fight vs. Tyson Fury 20 months ago, Wilder turned into a conspiracy theorist. It wasn’t his fault that Fury had dominated him and then decimated him in the seventh round.
No, it was the heavy costume he had worn to the ring that had sapped the strength of his legs. No, it was his former trainer Mark Breland who perhaps had conspired against him as he threw in the towel to save Wilder from a Fury beatdown. No, it was spiked water or it was something foreign in Fury’s gloves or it was maybe something else.
Wilder had been totally beaten up by Fury, and in the aftermath, his reputation had taken a pummeling too.
On Saturday night, Wilder’s reputation was restored, despite getting knocked out by Fury in the 11th round to keep his heavyweight championship in what will be regarded as a heavyweight classic.
Wilder was exhausted for the last six or seven rounds, constantly hurt by Fury’s power and wobbling around the ring on tired legs. But he never stopped trying, never stopped trying to land the devastating right hand that could put Fury on the canvas for good.
Wilder came out in the first round with a stiff jab and with an aggression we hadn’t seen in the first two bouts against Fury. He won the first two rounds on my card—something that would have been nearly impossible to predict beforehand—and he looked fantastic against the dangerous Fury.
But Fury hurt him and knocked him down in the third round, and in that moment, it only seemed like it was a matter of time before Fury would finish him, even quicker than he did in their second bout.
Wilder, though, rebounded in the next round, hitting him hard with right hands and knocking down Fury twice. Fury beat the 10-count both times, but the momentum had shifted as quickly as Fury’s normally outstanding head movement.
“I was down and hurt,” Fury said after the fight. “He’s a strong puncher. He’s a tough man.”
So is Fury, who began out-boxing Wilder and continuing to land dizzying shots. Eventually, Fury put down Wilder again in the 1oth.
Wilder, though, wouldn’t quit. After his knockout loss to Fury in 2020, Wilder was livid that Breland had thrown in the towel to stop the fight. Wilder implied that he would have rather died in the ring than be forced to stop by his own cornerman.
Wilder didn’t quit Saturday night. His corner didn’t throw in the towel. Nothing but Fury’s devastating uppercut-left-hook-right-hand combination in the 11th round forced Wilder to the canvas for good.
Wilder didn’t quit. Fury was just better than him. There shouldn’t be any shame for that.
So, Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) leaves with his belt, his lineal championship and with the knowledge that he’s absolutely the best heavyweight in the world. Wilder, who didn’t speak on camera after the fight, can leave knowing that, even though he didn’t avenge his loss, he restored his reputation.
“It was a great fight,” Fury said. “It was worthy of any trilogy in the sport. Wilder gave me a real run for my money. I always said I’m the best in the world, and he’s the second best.”
Wilder’s record drops to 42-2-1, but he can now continue his career in good standing with the boxing community. And hopefully with himself.