By: Sean Crose
And then it started.
After over a year and a half of bad blood, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder answered the opening bell Saturday night at Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. It was the beginning of their third fight. The first had ended in a controversial draw in 2018, the second with Wilder’s corner tossing in the towel just over a year later. In the extended period between the second and third fights, Wilder had blamed different reason’s and people for his defeat. He also made it clear he felt Fury had cheated his way to victory. Now was the chance for the Alabama native to redeem himself against the defending WBC and lineal champion, Fury. The question was – would Wilder be able to?
The former champion jumped all over Fury’s body at the start of the first. He continued to sting Fury’s midsection with the jab throughout the round, though Fury landed well at round’s end. Wilder continued to jab in the second while Fury threw and held. The third saw Fury put Wilder down. Wilder got up, but looked extremely hurt. He was able to survive the round, but Wilder didn’t look good. Then, unbelievably, Fury was sent to the mat twice in the fourth – and at least one of the counts seemed rather long.
The fifth round was close and brutal. Wilder took a knee while being mauled in the sixth. Like the fifth, it was a close and brutal affair. The seventh actually upped the pace. Both men threw and landed bombs. Fury, however, seemed to have the advantage, for at times Wilder looked ready to go down. Each man landed thunderously in the eighth, though it was Fury who did the overall better work, sending Wilder wobbling on numerous occasions throughout the ring.
The ninth was another slugfest. Whenever Wilder looked about to go, he’d land well and save himself. He’d also score points. The tenth round was something out of a Rocky movie. Fury send his man down with a highlight reel shot. Wilder got up, looking a single shot away from going down. He stayed on his feet, though, and hurt Fury in the final seconds before the bell.
Then – in the eleventh – it happened. Fury hit Wilder with a shot that sent Wilder on his face. Referee Russell Mora stopped the fight without counting. He had to. It’s hard not to be melodramatic regarding a match of this nature…but this bout had the look and feel of an all time great.