Tyson Fury clambered off the canvas to brutally knock out Deontay Wilder and retain his WBC world heavyweight title in an instant classic.
The gruelling contest saw Fury dropped twice in the fourth round, but the Briton rallied to viciously dispatch the American in the 11th to finally settle their three-year feud.
Almost 20 months since Fury battered the Alabaman in seven rounds, he shone in Las Vegas once more in a scarcely believable script. Having survived considerable adversity, Fury has emphatically reasserted his dominance to consolidate his place at the top of the heavyweight division.
The trilogy was complete but not before a series of shocking twists and turns to conjure up one of the greatest heavyweight fights in history.
It begun with a surprising start from Wilder, who jabbed well to the body from far out, but Fury was comfortable lunging out of range and using the ropes to bounce away from danger.
And after measuring distance for a couple of rounds, Fury knocked the challenger down in the third with a repeat of the one-sided rematch ominously poised.
But after being saved by the bell, Wilder miraculously rebounded in the fourth, landing a crushing straight right to send Fury sprawling to the canvas with shades of the first fight in Los Angeles back in 2018.
With defeat staring Fury in the face, he demonstrated his frankly remarkable resilience again. Fury beat the count once and leaped back onto his feet a second time before stumbling to his corner as the T-Mobile Arena erupted.
Both men weathered storms with Wilder appearing desperate with his assaults and seemingly drained from fighting at a career-heavy weight of 238 pounds – still 35 pounds less than the champion.
The drama escalated further in the seventh when Fury forced Wilder towards the corner and landed a heavy right to move him to the brink of a stoppage. But to the Bronze Bomber’s credit, he muddled his way through the final 30 seconds, proving his desire.
But while the crowd was delighted with the dramatic back-and-forth action, the messy finish to the round brought the wrath of SugarHill Steward. A disciple of legendary trainer Manny Steward, he demanded more jabs. And Fury responded to extend his dominant streak into the eighth, launching a series of beautiful combinations.
Wilder’s resolve was admirable throughout, but he was evidently exhausted by now and Fury was easily swerving his Hail Mary efforts.
And the American’s defence had long since disintegrated, which saw him soak up each Fury jab, but his defeated look was deceiving. And Fury was given one final warning of his prowess after taking a slick uppercut.
Fury’s potent combination of masterful technique and power dismantled Wilder once again in the 10th. A crisp right hook sent him to the canvas, this time hunching over on is knees.
But just as this absorbing contest appeared ready to reach its conclusion, Wilder’s instinct on the inside saw him briefly wobble Fury as the round ended.
But a gruesome ending for Wilder in the 11th soon arrived as Fury clipped him above his ear with a right.
The shot sent him sprawling off the ropes and tumbling towards the canvas, snatching his senses with Fury darting to the corner in celebration before the referee had even waved the fight off.
And a jubilant Fury snatched the microphone in celebration to serenade the 15,820 at T-Mobile Arena with a version of ‘Walking in Memphis’.
After cementing his legacy as an all-time great, the victory is remarkably the first successful world title defence of Fury’s career, having never defended the title after first becoming world champion with victory over Wladimir Klischko in 2015.
Fury will likely turn attention to a mandatory title defence against Dillian Whyte, should the Briton avoid an upset against Otto Wallin at the end of October.
An undisputed fight with the winner of the rematch between unified champion Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua would likely be targeted at the end of 2022.
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