Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought to a controversial split-decision draw on Saturday night at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles with the Alabaman retaining his WBC heavyweight title for an eighth time after knocking down 'the gypsy king' twice.
Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), facing live fire against an elite opponent for the first time in more than three years, used feints and a confident left jab to score from the opening bell. He looked even more comfortable in the second, stepping closer into the pocket and throwing his gloves skyward to bait the champion.
In the end, Fury, who bravely made it to the final bell, fell short in his bid to regain the world heavyweight championship he’d never lost in the ring as Wilder retained his WBC title in a white-knuckle split draw.
He continued the gameplan into the third and fourth, using head and upper-body movement to keep Wilder, a devastating puncher who had finished all but one of his professional fights inside the distance, off balance and tentative.
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) was able to land occasional shots and they were frequently the heavier ones, as evinced by the trickle of blood that appeared from Fury’s nose in the fourth.
But the 33-year-old American managed virtually no punches in combination in the first half of the bout as Fury methodically stayed clear of Wilder’s right, the most devastating weapon in the sport. Even Wilder confessed: “It felt like he had baby oil on him. He was slippery.”
But it was a dramatic contest, and a bewildering performance from the self-proclaimed Gypsy King, whose movement and footwork - slipping and sliding - allowed him to win most of the rounds. But when Wilder landed, he was dangerous, flooring Fury in the ninth and 12th rounds.
Fury did well to recover from the second knockdown as Jack Reiss counted him. Somehow, Fury got back to his feet and even had an exhausted Wilder in trouble.
Judge Robert Tapper scored the fight 114-112 for Fury, while Alejandro Rochin favored Wilder 115-111. Judge Phil Edwards, the only British judge, scored it a 113-113 draw.
Fury was the winner according to many, who comprehensively outboxed Wilder to show that he is the most skilled heavyweight on the planet and a showman.