The second encounter between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder got set for February 22, 2020 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. For this fight, Fury put on 17 and a half pounds, tipping the scale at 273 pounds. That coupled with an interview he gave at the weigh in talking about going right after Wilder and looking for an early knockout had many people questioning his game plan.
Fury, as was mentioned in Part 1, is a slick fighter by nature who relies on reflexes and anticipation. His game is to box behind a busy and unorthodox style. He also moves exceptionally well for such a big man as he is light on his feet and can be a constant moving target when he chooses. For him to look to switch up his natural fighting style and go against the grain while tipping the scales in the 270s seemed like a recipe for disaster.
One thing you don’t do in boxing is go after a puncher, especially one that can crack like Wilder. If Fury was going to play the role of the aggressor there would be a great probability of him walking into a big shot. Maybe he wasn’t in shape to box and move as he did in the first fight coming in so heavy? Maybe he was taking Wilder lightly and had not properly trained to go 12 rounds?
Those questions and concerns were answered almost immediately in the first round, as Fury did exactly what he said he was going to do and pursued Wilder, putting him on his back foot in retreat from the jump. The Gypsy King did so behind the same herky-jerky style he implements when in retreat, mixing up feints and jabs on a confused Wilder. More of the same in round two as Fury looked like a ball of energy against a very uncomfortable Bronze Bomber, who clearly didn’t like the pace Fury was setting or the forward momentum implemented. Late in the second round Wilder landed a big right hand to the side of Fury’s head, and Tyson immediately responded with a hard three-punch combination, driving the champion to the corner ropes as the bell sounded. In round three, it became apparent early in the round that Wilder was already breathing heavy and this wasn’t lost on the challenger, as Fury stepped up his offensive attack by putting Wilder on the canvas for the first time in his career, courtesy of an overhand right behind thrown behind a stiff jab.
The fight was becoming increasingly one sided as a confident Fury continued pressing forward, mixing up touching shots with power punches behind them while constantly changing speeds. By round four a tired Wilder was bleeding from his ear and mouth as the one way traffic continued and Fury began to opt for more and more power blows on a defensively flawed opponent.
By the fifth round things were very one sided as Fury continued to carry out his aggressive game plan which resulted in a second knockdown from a well placed body shot on a wilting champion. The sixth wasn’t much better for Wilder as the exhausted champion was absorbing a lot of punches and swelling appeared all over his left jawline.
When the bell sounded to end the sixth round it looked like Wilder was all but finished as he barely had the energy to keep his hands up. Fury seized the opportunity and immediately backed Wilder into a corner in round seven and began raining heavy power shots on the beaten fighter before Wilder’s corner threw in the towel to save their fighter from further punishment.
Wilder had just suffered his first career defeat at the hands of Tyson Fury…the new Heavyweight Champion of the world.
A global pandemic would keep both men on the shelf for the remainder of the year. During the twenty month interlude between the second and third fights, the former champion Wilder would make a number of unfounded and outrageous claims for why he was defeated in the second fight. Claims ranging from the costume which he wore to the ring that weighed 40 pounds zapping his strength to insisting that the gloves Fury wore on fight night had been tampered with. He even went as far as saying his trainer Mark Breland laced his water and was disloyal for stopping the fight. This led to Wilder firing Breland as his trainer and replacing him with Malik Scott.
The inevitable trilogy fight would take place on October 9th of 2021. So much had unfolded between this date and nearly three years earlier when they first met in the ring. For starters, the principal reason that the two got together in the first place was because Wilder could not make the super fight with Anthony Joshua happen. During that time span Joshua had lost his world titles to Andy Ruiz, defeated Ruiz in a rematch, negotiated a fight with Fury that was all but done, before Wilder got a mediator ruling, forcing the rubber match. Joshua then lost his titles again on September 25th to Oleksandre Usyk. Regardless of the Fury-Wilder 3 result, Anthony Joshua was once again out of the picture and all that mattered was the conclusion of this series.
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder would again do battle in Las Vegas, this time at the T-Mobile arena.
Both men would come in at career high weights. Wilder was 238 pounds and Fury was 277. Under the tutelage of new trainer Malik Scott, Wilder started aggressively, stabbing Fury to the body with constant hard jabs in round one while backing the big man up. This was a more active Wilder and Fury was the one doing the waiting. In round two Fury looked to push Wilder back, fighting more aggressively himself and landing a few good power shots as both men tried to assert their attacks. Round three saw both men trading roles of aggressor while firing wild shots with few landing for either until with less than 40 seconds remaining Fury would land a short left hook on the inside followed by a right uppercut depositing Wilder on the canvas. After Wilder rose to his feet Fury would land several punishing blows on his opponent before the bell sounded ending the round.
Round four would see Fury continue to play the aggressor role as Wilder fought back bravely giving almost as good as he got. With less than a minute remaining Fury got a little too careless walking to Wilder while abondomining his jab when BOOM!… he walked right into Wilder 1-2 with the right hand putting Fury on the deck.
After Fury rose to his feet the two traded big power shots until Wilder landed another solid blow on his not so fully recovered rival. Down goes Fury again. Again Fury would rise and make it the few remaining seconds to the bell. In round five Wilder would swing heavily with a majority of his shots, missing the intended target before Fury re established control and began taking the fight over again. Rounds 6-9 saw Fury begin to land a number of power shots wobbling a brave but tiring Wilder, who was also being mauled on the inside by his bigger opponent when he wasn’t being backed up and looking uncomfortable. Wilder remained dangerous as always because he carries his power for all 12 rounds and would land his fair of shots to keep Fury honest but by round 10 Wilder’s gas tank was approaching empty.
Fury would again put Wilder on the canvas in the 10th as it seemed like only a matter of seconds before Wilder was all done for but the former champion showed his heart and saw the end of the round. No one would blame Malik Scott if he pulled a plug on the fight in between rounds as Wilder was absorbing a lot of punishment in a fight that had begun to resemble its predecessor.
Scott chose to obey his warrior’s wishes which was Wilder’s complaint about Mark Breland stopping the second fight.
As Wilder came out for round 11 the writing was on the wall. He was dog tired, absorbed a lot of depleting punishment and The Gypsy King was now in complete control. Wilder always has a puncher’s chance but Fury had his man right where he wanted him.
Fury applied even more pressure, constantly putting Wilder’s back on the ropes and roughing him up on the inside with short, hard punches. He couldn’t miss. It seemed as if everything Fury threw landed but The Bronze Bomber refused to go down while still throwing the occasionally wild shot in return. With a minute left in the round Fury let loose a series of close range punches, all landing on the intended receiver topped off by a chopping right hand to Wilder’s temple.
As the punch landed the life seemed to leave the former champion as he crashed to the canvas. Referee Russell Mora immediately called a halt to the bout as Fury secured a second consecutive knockout victory over the Bronze Bomber.
The third fight proved to be the most exciting as well as most competitive of the series. Oftentimes a fighter gains more in a single defeat than in a career full of victories, which easily sums up the heart and courage that Deontay Wilder displayed.
After two consecutive knockout losses he will have to rebuild his career after a long rest. Oppositely, The Gypsy King remains at the top of a very good heavyweight division that still has to shake itself out as a rematch between Usyk and Joshua seems absolute. Fury will most likely have a stay busy defense while he awaits a mega fight with either Joshua or Usyk.
Although both Fury and Wilder gave the sport a shot in the arm and a series of fights that will go down in boxing history one can’t help but wonder how different the account of the division would be if a man seemingly done with the sport had not been cherry picked. Wilder-Joshua most likely would have taken place and chances are they would both still have been undefeated when it did. The winner of that fight would have had his name mentioned with the all time greats of the division. Now as it stands each man has two losses on their records and Joshua has his work cut out for him to avoid a third. Wilder was on the receiving end of a lot of punishment his last two fights and at 35 years old might not bounce back. Tyson Fury may have never revived his career or life had Wilder not needed an opponent with some clout to his name.
The sky and the top of the all time greatest heavyweights list is now the limit for The Gypsy King. Regardless of how the rest of his career plays out at the very least his name will be mentioned along with The Cinderella Man himself James J. Braddock, as the person pulling off the greatest comeback in not only boxing, but sports history.