The showdown between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury for the World Boxing Council world heavyweight title ended in a draw after the two went the distance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
There was no question that both fighters were ready to go right from the start:
The pre-fight theatrics certainly set the stage for what would be an entertaining night.
Early on, it was Fury who appeared to have the edge:
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. agreed while summing up the early rounds to Showtime Boxing:
Whether Wilder heard Mayweather or not, he would soon let Fury know that he wasn't going down quietly. The Bronze Bomber knocked his opponent to the canvas in Round 9, which was arguably his best round of the night.
Given how the early rounds went, the 212.4-pound Wilder, whose face appeared to be swelling at that point, figured to need to find a way to pull out a knockout in Round 12 in order to keep his perfect record intact. The Bronze Bomber was able to knock Fury down—but never out.
Wilder may not have done enough to get the win, but he was able to even the score a bit with his late-fight charge. It wound up being a split decision, with the scorecards reading 115-111 Wilder, 115-110 Fury and 113-113.
That draw allowed Wilder to retain his title.
Wilder's career record moves to 40-0-1 with the draw, while Fury is now 27-0-1.
There was no shortage of anticipation for this title bout after a press conference earlier this week got out of hand, via BT Sport and BBC News' Dan Roan (warning: NSFW language):
At that point, both fighters were ready to step into the ring—but they would have to wait a few days.
This marked Wilder's second fight of the calendar year. The 33-year-old previously defeated Luis Ortiz (30-1) via TKO at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, back in March.
Wilder entered Saturday night with 39 knockouts in 40 career fights. A January 2017 match against Bermane Stiverne, which resulted in a unanimous decision in favor of Wilder, was his only non-knockout fight to date. Wilder was able to knock Stiverne out in a rematch back in November 2017, though.
Not only did Wilder guarantee to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that he would knock Fury out, but he also believed a victory would set the stage for a clash with Anthony Joshua:
Now, the boxing world waits to see what comes next after the draw.
Meanwhile, Fury was making his third appearance in the ring for 2018. He previously defeated Sefer Seferi (23-2-1) in June and Francesco Pianeta (35-5-1) in August. While it had been nearly nine months since Wilder had fought, it had been just more than three months since Fury last stepped into the ring.
Like his opponent, the 30-year-old Fury guaranteed victory via knockout.
"I'm telling you now, Wilder is getting knocked out by me on Saturday night," Fury said earlier in the week, according to CNN. "On Saturday night the whole world will know him as the person who Fury knocked out.
"This swagger is not genuine, it's fake—a snide and a fraud. I look at him and don't see a bad man, I see a pretender."
In the end, neither fighter's guarantee proved true. However, they put on a show for boxing fans everywhere, and both left the ring without having a crooked number in their respective loss columns.