Tyson Fury’s bid to become the WBC world heavyweight champion ended in controversy after Deontay Wilder retained the belt following a split decision draw.
In a pulsating bout at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles British fighter Fury produced a magnificent performance but was knocked down twice - once in the ninth round and again in the 12th.
However, despite the two knockdowns many pundits and fans believed Fury won the fight against the American. After 12 rounds the decision went to the judges with Mexico’s Alejandro Rochin scoring it 115-111 to Wilder, Canada’s Robert Tapper giving it to Fury 114-112 and Phil Edwards of the United Kingdom scoring it a 113-113 draw.
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USA Today’s Martin Rogers said it was “scandalous judging” and “a huge black eye for boxing”.
Fighters set for a rematch?
A potential super-fight against Anthony Joshua awaited the winner of the Wilder vs. Fury clash but after the draw a rematch is the likely next step for the still unbeaten duo.
Speaking after retaining the WBC belt, Wilder said: “With the two knockdowns I definitely won the fight. I don’t think he had control. I wasn’t hurt. I did not sit still, I was too hesitant, I started overthrowing the right hand. I was forcing my punches too much.
“I don’t know if it [a rematch] will be my next fight but would love it to be. We need to do it again.”
Fighting for only the third time after his long spell away from the sport, Fury believed he was the victor. “We’re on away soil, I got knocked down but I still believe I won the fight,” he said. “I’m showing total professionalism. Thank you for the opportunity D, God bless you. The Gypsy King has returned. God bless America.
“I’m a professional athlete who loves to fight. He is a fearsome fighter. The world knows the truth. Thank you to every fan around the world.
“That is the second best heavyweight apart from me. We are both going home to our family safe. I’ve been away from my family for ten weeks and just want to spend some time with them over Christmas. One hundred per cent we will do the rematch. We’re the best two heavyweights in the planet.
“There is another heavyweight who is a chicken. [Anthony] Joshua where are you?”
Speaking to BT Sport Box Office, promoter Frank Warren said he thought Fury had won the fight by three rounds. “When you think of what he has come from to be here. It is the art of hitting and not getting hit,” said Warren.
“I didn’t think he was going to get up [in the 12th] but at the end of the round he was pushing him back. It is a draw but everyone knows he won it and we will want to do a rematch. How could a fight like this not be a rematch? It is unfinished business. He won that. He won that fight and everyone knows it.
“In Britain that is an 80,000 job. Vegas will be drooling for this. When was the last time you saw a great fight in USA. Tyson and Deontay have livened up this decision. The best fought the best but it was not the best decision.”
Sick and gutted
The BBC called it “one of the most thrilling heavyweight contests for years” and praised Fury for getting back up from the 12th-round knockdown.
However, Fury’s trainer Ben Davison was angry with the judge who awarded the decision to Wilder. Davison said: “They have just taken away the biggest comeback in sports history. You have to be a sick, sick man to do that.
“I told Tyson before the fight he would beat him with his left hand. We didn’t come here for money to get through the fight we came here to win and I’m sick and gutted. Deontay is a very dangerous opponent after the 12 months we have had we need a break.”
Media reactions to the split decision draw
Martin Rogers, USA Today: “No one will be complaining if we get a rematch after this stunning fight. Scandalous judging and a huge black eye for boxing. Split decision, with one judge scoring it for each fighter and a third having it as a 113-113 draw. What an embarrassing way for a magnificent fight to end. Wilder got very lucky here.”
Toby Gannon, The Sun: “Tyson Fury was robbed in his bid to become world champion again as judges called his fight against Deontay Wilder a DRAW. His boxing masterclass against the bewildered Wilder should have seen him win the WBC belt - and set up a mouth-watering clash against Anthony Joshua. Gypsy King promised to school Wilder and delivered - but the American floored him twice to salvage a split decision draw.”
Bryan Armen Graham, The Guardian: “Fury outboxed his American opponent for much of the fight, using his jab effectively and moving well. But the bout was not a cakewalk for the Briton after he survived knockdowns in the ninth and 12th rounds.”
James Brady, SB Nation: “Fury did a great job of avoiding Wilder’s power punches for most of the fight, and dished it out as well. Wilder spent too much time inactive, looking for the big shot, and for that, many had Fury winning the fight. The controversy came from one judge’s scorecard that was 115-111 in favour of Wilder, which is, honestly, a ludicrous card. This writer likely scored it closer for Wilder than many, but that card is still seems way off.”
How the boxing world reacted
Lennox Lewis, British former heavyweight champion: “They need to get some good judges, these judges were terrible. Deontay boxed terribly... very poorly.”
Abel Sanchez, Gennady Golovkin’s trainer speaking on BBC Radio 5 live: “It’s a victory for Tyson even if he didn’t get a win. The fact that he did here after that lay-off - Tyson fought the perfect fight other than the two knockdowns. I think Tyson wins the next one easier the next time.”
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