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Fury clobbers KO King to regain title

By Robert Ecksel on February 22, 2020


That right hand is a wrecking ball, a bona fide brain-scrambler from the Gods. (AP Photo)

Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, lineal and former unified heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 23 KOs), the singular “Gypsy King” from Manchester, England, shocked the world by clobbering Deontay Wilder (44-1-1, 43 KOs), the reigning and defending WBC heavyweight champion from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dropping him in rounds three and five before his corner threw in the towel in seventh.


The time of the stoppage was 1:39.  The one-sided scorecards all favored Fury by a wide margin when the ref waved it off.


Their first fight in LA in 2018 was controversial. A draw satisfied no one, except those plotting the rematch, and each fighter had two fights to keep busy. But this one was the decider. This would settle things once for all, without controversy, with no ifs, ands or buts or dubious decisions. Wilder promised to put matters to rest by putting Fury to sleep. He would expose him as a fraud, a gangly circus clown who can move but has no power. Fury also predicted a knockout. Many scoffed and for good reason. Fury is the master boxer, the feather-fisted trickster with a granite chin. And tipping the scales at a considerable 273 lbs., little of which resembled muscle, Fury looked gargantuan in the ring against Wilder, a small man in comparison who grew smaller as the rounds progressed.


Fury stalked Wilder from the opening bell. He was matador and bull and masterful in both roles. By contrast, this night Wilder was prey. Fighting behind an educated jab and using the ring like it was his own personal dance studio, Fury landed a big overhand right midway through the round that rattled Wilder and another right at the bell. Wilder was never the same after that. He was bleeding from the mouth. His mouth was slack. He spat blood into the spit bucket. The left side of his face would swell.


Wilder kept his right fist cocked in round two, waiting for the golden moment it would explode on Fury’s jaw. It had happened before, twice in their first fight, the second time in the final round when Fury beat the count after being unconscious. That right hand is a wrecking ball, a bona fide brain-scrambler from the Gods. Wilder caught Fury a couple of times, but Fury shrugged them off and pressed forward. It was still anyone’s fight. The two men traded blows at the bell.


Fury took control of the fight in round three. He began landing straight right hands that could not miss. Wilder’s offense had always been his defense, his laser-guided missile system, his raison d’etre, and his power is intoxicating. He can turn out the lights with the flick of a switch. But what would happen if someone faster got to that switch first? We got that answer when Fury floored Wilder with 30 seconds left in the round. Wilder beat the count. Fury was punching him as the bell sounded.


Wilder was hurt. He wobbled to his corner. He didn’t look all there. The fight was slipping away.


Wilder’s balance had gone haywire from Fury’s assault. He moved across the canvas as if he was slipping and sliding on ice. He touched down twice in round four, both times ruled a slip by the referee. During the round Lennox Lewis observed that Wilder’s “legs are falling apart.” He threw a few noncommittal punches in slo-mo, while Fury outboxed and outfoxed, outpunched and outmaneuvered Wilder, who seemed at a loss as to what to do, except throw a sporadic right hand with no pop.


Fury can clinch with the best of them. He’s got those old-school octopus arms. But Wilder did most of the holding Saturday night, like holding on for dear life, less a defensive ploy than a last-ditch effort to avoid getting hit and dropped again. Wilder couldn’t outbox Fury in a million years. And with the zip having gone from his punches, with his equilibrium shot, there was nothing for Wilder to do but to eat punches and cling to Fury.


The fight sometimes looked less like boxing than a Roman-Greco wrestling match. I’ve yet to decide if it was a method divined from an early draft of the Queensberry rules bought at auction or simply the result of two men whose towering size might not have been better suited to another sport. But whatever the fight’s deficiencies, like its lopsided nature, for example, the bout had a little something for everyone. In round six when the fighters were in close, Fury licked the blood dripping from Wilder’s ear onto his neck. It was a photo op to die for, clickbait par excellence, vampirism seen through a pugilistic lens or a recurrent dream Fury has had since childhood.


The end was as shocking as what preceded it. With Wilder defenseless, with Wilder not throwing punches, with Wilder exposed, Fury unloaded on the hapless soon-to-be former heavyweight champion. Wilder let his hands hang invitingly low. If they could talk they might have said surrender. With nowhere to run or hide and lacking the innate ability to fight back, Wilder was a sitting duck whose goose was cooked. Maybe he had it coming. When fighters compare themselves to Muhammad Ali you can be sure it's gone to their heads and the end is near. The stoppage may have felt premature at the time and might be massaged into a reason for the two men to have a third fight, but Wilder was furious at his corner, who knew that their fighter was hurt and didn’t want him hurt irreparably.


“Things like this happen,” said Wilder after the bout. “The best man won tonight, but my corner threw in the towel and I was ready to go out on my shield. You know what I’m saying? I had a lot of things going on heading into this fight. It is what it is, but I make no excuses tonight. I’m a warrior. He had a great performance and we will be back stronger. I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield. I’m a warrior. It’s what I do.”


It’s what Fury does as well.


“A big shout-out to Deontay Wilder,” he said. “He came here tonight and he manned up and he really did show the heart of a champion. I hit him with a clean right that dropped him and he got back up. He is a warrior. He will be back. He will be champion again. But I will say, The King has returned to the top of the throne!”

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