Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) cemented his status as the man to beat in the heavyweight division, defeating bitter rival Deontay Wilder (41-2-1, 41 KOs) by 11th-round knockout to retain the WBC world heavyweight title Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Both fighters paid a price to end this bitter rivalry. They battered each other for 10-plus rounds, with multiple trips to the canvas and several other punches that would have knocked out lesser boxers. Wilder scored two knockdowns in the fourth round, while Fury sent Wilder to the canvas in the third, 10th, and 11th rounds.
The final blitz from Fury left no doubt, with the referee waving off the fight almost as soon as Wilder went down.
With the win, Fury, 33, also maintains his claim as the lineal heavyweight champion, as he has remained unbeaten since defeating then-undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
This was the third meeting between Wilder and Fury. Their first fight was a thrilling draw in December 2018, with Fury surviving two late knockdowns. The rematch in February 2020 saw Fury take the WBC belt from Wilder in dominant fashion, knocking him down three times en route to a seventh-round stoppage. In what was likely their final meeting, Fury made sure there was no doubt he's a true champion.
After the bout, Fury called himself the best heavyweight, and Wilder the second best, per MMA Fighting:
The big question coming into this fight was whether or not Wilder, 35, could put together a new game plan and show Fury some different looks. He looked like he might do just that in the first round, throwing jabs to the body from a distance and controlling the ring. Fury was on the defensive, but landed a stinging combination just before the bell.
Fury took the early surge in stride. It didn't take long to get the timing down on Wilder's right hand, tagging the challenger with some good counter shots in the right hand. Fury also started to make the fight a bit messier, leaning on Wilder and throwing punches from the clinch.
The third round saw Fury mix in some hook shots that Wilder had no answer for. The timing was excellent, with Fury launching the power shots just as Wilder was letting go with his jab. It all came together at the tail end of the third round, with Fury sending Wilder to the canvas with a left followed by a hard right to the temple.
Unlike in the second fight, Wilder didn't cave to the pressure. He roared back in the fourth round, dropping the champion twice in the final minute. He came into the fight at the heaviest weight of his career (as did Fury), and the extra muscle may have helped him topple the 6'9" giant.
The fifth round was a clear war of attrition, with both fighters still getting their legs back under them. Wilder was in control for the first part of the round, but Fury was able to recover and land some solid combinations. Both fighters continued to launch haymakers, hoping to score a knockout on a home-run swing.
The seventh round saw Fury wobble Wilder with a straight right hand. He tried to follow it up, but Wilder was able to get him into a phone-booth fight on the ropes. After fighting his way off the ropes, Fury sent Wilder right back into them with another huge shot to the chin.
Fury dominated the eighth round, with Wilder stumbling around and seemingly hanging on by a thread. He did a good job of using his jab to get in close and then lean on Wilder, sapping his strength. But every time it looked like Fury might finally put Wilder away, the American would strike back and force Fury to re-group. He did that at the end of a brutal, one-sided 10th round that saw Fury score his second knockdown of the fight.
Finally, in the 11th round, Fury took away whatever final bit of reserve energy Wilder was fighting on, clobbering him with a string of power shots to end a brilliant, brutal contest.
With the win in hand and the rivalry over, Fury can concentrate on trying to become the undisputed heavyweight champion. That would mean taking on the winner of the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch, which promoter Eddie Hearn says is likely to happen in spring 2022, per ESPN.com's Mike Coppinger. Usyk beat Joshua in September to win the WBA, WBO and IBF world titles. A heavyweight unification bout would be a massive, career-defining fight for those involved.