Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought to a split draw Saturday night, with Wilder retaining his WBC heavyweight title after knocking down his British challenger twice.
Wilder (40-0-1) floored Fury (27-0-1) in the ninth and 12th rounds, yet Fury clearly out-boxed Wilder for large portions of the remainder of their entertaining showdown at Staples Center.
Fury looked finished when Wilder put him flat on his back with two minutes left in the fight, but he rose and made it to the bell.
“We gave each other all we’ve got,” Wilder said. “We’re the best in the world. The respect was mutual.”
Judge Robert Tapper scored the fight 114-112 for Fury, while Alejandro Rochin favored Wilder 115-111. Judge Phil Edwards and The Associated Press scored it a 113-113 draw, with Wilder’s knockdowns compensating for Fury’s superior technique.
“I hope I did you all proud after nearly three years out of the ring,” Fury said. “I was never going to be knocked out tonight. I showed good heart to get up. I came here tonight and I fought my heart out.”
While both men thought they won, neither was overly upset by the verdict in front of a frenzied Hollywood crowd. They embraced warmly and immediately talked about a rematch in the spring.
“One hundred percent we’ll do the rematch,” Fury said. “We are two great champions. Me and this man are the two best heavyweights on the planet.”
The bout was a rare meeting of two unbeaten heavyweight stars in their apparent primes, with both fighters putting aside caution and the typical squabbles over money or belts to stage one of the best matchups in the glamour division’s recent history.
And the fighters delivered, each in his unique way. The 6-foot-9 Fury spent nearly every moment of the fight nimbly avoiding Wilder’s punches in a masterful display of shifty technique and athletic defense - except for the two moments when the 6-foot-7 Wilder viciously knocked him to the canvas.
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