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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Tyson Fury’s KO: The Blood, Belt and the Business

Tyson Fury had similarly bullied Wilder for the majority of their first meeting in December 2018, before two sensational, late knockdowns salvaged a split draw.

Written by Gaurav Bhatt | Updated: February 23, 2020 3:55:23 pm
Tyson Fury, of England, celebrates after defeating Deontay Wilder during a WBC heavyweight championship boxing match in Las Vegas. (AP Photo)

In addition to the ‘W’ and the WBC belt, Tyson Fury came into Sunday’s heavyweight rematch with two more desires: to knock Deontay Wilder out, and a taste of the American’s blood.

Outrageously enough, he got the second. In a moment sure to be immortalised in the world of memes, Fury pushed Wilder against the ropes in the sixth round and licked the blood off his neck.

He was close to knocking Wilder out clean in the next round too, before the defending champion’s corner threw in the towel for a defeat by TKO stoppage. “Why did you do that?,” Wilder, discombobulated but still standing, lashed out at his trainers, and calmed down seconds later. The answer was simple. Wilder, never defeated in 11 years and WBC champ for five, was simply outclassed.

Fury had similarly bullied Wilder for the majority of their first meeting in December 2018, before two sensational, late knockdowns salvaged a split draw. On Sunday, however, Fury wasn’t looking for theatrics or scorecards. Long scoffed at due to the power (or lack thereof) and the tendency to win on points, the 31-year-old was twitchy, awkward, feinting and looking to draw blood.

A right sent Wilder crashing down in the third, a left to the body earned another knockdown in the fifth, and the straight barrage in the corner stopped the fight in the seventh. The undefeated Fury won the only belt missing from his resume and became the first boxer to end two 10+ title defence reigns.

Throw weight around

Prizefighters, especially of the heavier variety, are obligated to talk about “knockouts” and “finishing” their opponents. But winning on points was out of question for Fury.

“I need a knockout. I’m telling you the truth, I need a knockout. I ain’t gonna get a points decision here,” Fury told reporters earlier this month. “And I will not lay down and be robbed in America. They have to f***ing kill me in that ring to beat me. There ain’t no convincing me I don’t need no knockouts.”

Sure his second-round KO proclamation was more ritualistic than realistic, but Fury was out to floor Wilder. He split with Ben Davison, the trainer who helped him return from the wilderness, and joined forces with SugarHill Steward, nephew of Emanuel ‘Manny’ Steward who coached top heavyweights such as Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Wladimir Klitschko.

“The only reason I’m with Sugar Hill is because I need a knockout in this fight,” Fury said. “If I was looking to nick a points win, I’d have stuck with Ben.”

Fury was also irked that Wilder, he-of-Thor’s-hammer-for-a-right-hand, didn’t put much stock in the Brit’s power. So he bulked up, from 256.5 pounds in the first fight to 273 on Sunday. It not only increased the firepower, but helped Fury pile on the pressure on Wilder.

The accurate shots hurt Wilder, but it was the umpteen clinches that drained the American. Fury, two inches taller at 6’9, leaned on Wilder and forced him to carry the extra bulk for most of the fight, to the extent of drawing referee’s ire and a point deduction in the fifth.

Also sapping were the body shots. It was the clubbing left to the midsection in the fifth that sent Wilder down for the second time, but Fury had been punishing the body from the second round onward.

Easy on the ear

Wilder was successfully attacking Fury’s body as well. In fact, even though he was on the backfoot from the opening bell, Wilder had his moments, most notably in the close second round where he matched Fury jab-for-jab.

Then it all fell apart for Wilder.

Maybe it was the messed up eardrum? The resulting loss of equilibrium? Fury’s output was phenomenal in the third round, and a left hook and a right to the temple dropped Wilder and injured his ear. For the rest of the fight, while Fury’s corner wiped off the sweat of their boxer, Wilder’s men dealt with the bleeding left ear.

Maybe it was the extra weight? Wilder was also heavier — 231 from 212.5 in 2018 — and pundits in the build-up believed it could affect his gas tank and mobility. “I really don’t care about weight. This just indicates that I’m in a better state and a better mind than the last time, and I’ve come for the pain,” was Wilder’s reasoning, who was ill and thus relatively svelte the first time around.

Maybe it was the corner? Wilder’s team neither had a gameplan, nor fighting words for their boxer. Just awkward silence, broken by pedestrian advice you could lift off from Twitter: “Come forward, just throw the right.” Announcers Lennox Lewis & Andre Ward were flabbergasted with how the corner treated Wilder’s cuts, sending him out with a busted, bleeding lip. To make matters worse, Jay Deas, who has been with Wilder since 2005, said afterwards that it was the assistant trainer Mark Brieland who threw in the towel and that he shouldn’t have.

It’s all of the above, and then some. Wilder showed heart, and though he wanted to go out on his shield, his corner was correct in trying to protect their commodity.

Wilder — though not as uni-dimensional as his detractors believe — was thoroughly exposed by the pedigreed Fury. As his condition worsened, Wilder dropped both his hands in search of a Hail Mary. The right hand stayed loaded but there was no room to fire a shot. And when the 12 gauge shotgun did fire, it only grazed Fury.

Deontay Wilder lies on the mat after he tripped against Tyson Fury. (AP Photo)

Then there were two

This is the most fun the heavyweight division has been in a long time. It’s also real fractured, with the top boxers in the camps of different promoters and broadcasting giants. Fury is promoted by Bob Arum and ESPN. Wilder is with Al Haymon and Fox Sports. And while Arum and Haymon hadn’t done much business together before, the two heavies of combat sports put together a jointly-broadcasted fight.

Wilder has a rematch clause, one he would have to trigger in 30 days for the third fight and a 40-60 payday. The beating that the 34-year-old took might deter him from going forward with the trilogy.

With Wilder out, the fight to make now is Tyson Fury versus Anthony Joshua for the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO, WBC, The Ring and lineal belts. For the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn and Arum don’t see eye to eye. In wake of Fury’s domination, social media was rife with speculations suggesting Hearn will protect Joshua and duck the fight.

For what it’s worth, Hearn put the discussion to rest shortly thereafter.

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