LAS VEGAS -- Tyson Fury, known as "The Gypsy King," can now be known simply as the king.
Fury dispensed with the skillful boxing he was so successful with the first time he met Deontay Wilder and followed through with his stated plan to attack him. And attack him he did -- relentlessly.
Fury scored a pair of knockdowns in a dominating victory that ended in the seventh round when Wilder's corner threw in the towel before an electric, sold-out crowd of 15,816 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Fury retained the lineal heavyweight championship and seized Wilder's WBC belt with the win.
The fight was viewed by many as the biggest heavyweight world title bout since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson -- both of whom were ringside -- to retain the title in 2002. However, there was wide skepticism that Fury would go on the attack against Wilder, the most devastating puncher in boxing and one of the biggest punchers of all time. But Fury, who at 273 pounds was at nearly the heaviest of his career and 16.5 pounds heavier than in their first fight, was serious about fighting instead of boxing.
Fury came into the fight with new trainer Javan "Sugar" Hill, the nephew of the late Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward whom Fury hired after parting ways with Ben Davison.
And Fury celebrated in the ring following his postfight television interview by leading the crowd in singing Don McLean's famed "American Pie."
"A big shoutout to Deontay Wilder," Fury said. "He came here tonight and he manned up, and he really did show the heart of a champion."
Wilder, whose ear was bleeding during the fight, was expected to be taken to the hospital but instead was examined by a doctor in the dressing room and did not need to go the hospital, co-manager Shelly Finkel told ESPN. Finkel said Wilder, who did not attend the postfight news conference, received a few stitches for a cut inside his ear and needed considerable time to produce a sample for Voluntary Anti-Doping Association collectors.
Wilder gave his rival full credit for the victory.
"I'm doing good. Things like this happen," Wilder said. "The best man won tonight, but my corner threw in the towel and I was ready to go out on my shield. I had a lot of things going on heading into this fight. It is what it is, but I make no excuses tonight. I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield."
Wilder trainer Jay Deas said co-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel. It was a decision that Deas said he didn't agree with.
"Mark threw the towel. I didn't think he should have," Deas said. "Deontay is the kind of the guy that goes out on his shield. He will tell you straight up -- don't throw the towel in."
The bout was a far different one than when the fighters squared off in December 2018 in Los Angeles. Then, Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches, but Wilder knocked Fury down in the ninth round and seemingly knocked him out with a brutal combination in the 12th round that Fury somehow survived. In the end, the judges ruled it a split draw: 114-112 Fury, 115-111 Wilder and 113-113.
Fury drops Wilder in Round 3
Tyson Fury lands a looping right hand that drops Deontay Wilder in the third round. Buy Wilder vs. Fury II on ESPN+.
Both men called for an immediate rematch, but each took a pair of interim bouts and won to set up the massively anticipated sequel.
This time, Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, came nowhere near doing the kind of damage he did to Fury the first time, nor did Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), 31, bother to box. Fury wanted to fight.
With a crowd filled with Fury's British countrymen, Fury and Wilder went right at each other at the opening bell, with Wilder shooting jabs and landing two good right hands, but not cleanly. Fury was more patient but eventually backed Wilder up with a combination that brought the crowd to its feet. Fury landed a few more shots later in the round to clearly take the opening frame.
Fury, who had no problems with a right eye that needed 47 stitches and plastic surgery following his September win over Otto Wallin, landed a right to the side of Wilder's head early in the second round, forced him back several times and stopped him from advancing with his jab. Fury had predicted a second-round knockout.
Fury, who retained the lineal title for the sixth time, continued to press the action in the third round, landing sharp combinations and jabs and a right over the top that forced Wilder to grab, before Fury unleashed a right hand that caught Wilder and dropped him. Fury raised his hands over his head, but Wilder beat the count and seemed to be in trouble. Wilder went down again moments later, but referee Kenny Bayless ruled it a slip.
"I hit him with a clean right that dropped him, and he got back up," Fury said. "He is a warrior."
Wilder, who was making his 11th title defense, was still unsteady in the fourth round and tried to tie Fury up while Fury continued to land right hands. Fury landed a left to the body in the fifth round to drop Wilder for the second time in another dominating round in which Wilder looked like he had very little left. Later in the round, Bayless took a point from Fury for hitting behind the head, but the deduction hardly wound up mattering.
Wilder appeared done in the sixth round. His legs were shaky, and he could barely move around the ring. It seemed like a huge effort just to keep his hands up to avoid Fury's punches.
Wilder, who was bidding to become the first American lineal heavyweight champion since Hasim Rahman knocked out Lewis in a huge upset in their first fight in 2001, was still very unsteady in the seventh. Wilder had nothing left as Fury pinned him in a corner and battered him with punches until Wilder's corner threw in the towel, which Bayless recognized and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 39 seconds.
"Even the greatest have lost and came back. That is just part of it," Wilder said. "You just take it for what it is. I can make no excuses tonight. I had a lot of complications. But we'll come back stronger next time around. This is what big-time boxing is all about -- the best must fight the best. I appreciate all the fans that came out and supported the show, and I hope that everyone gets home safely."
At the time of the stoppage, Fury led 59-52 on two scorecards -- a shutout despite the point deduction -- and 58-53 on the third. ESPN also had Fury leading 59-52.
"Fury stuck to the game plan," said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Fury's co-promoter. "We told everyone what the game plan was. You can listen to all the interviews I did. Next time, people will listen to me."
Fury's dominance was reflected in the CompuBox statistics. He landed 82 of 267 punches (31%), and Wilder landed 34 of 141 (24%).
The deal for the fight called for a 50-50 split, with each man guaranteed at least $25 million plus a share of the profits from the joint ESPN-Fox pay-per-view. Wilder has 30 days to exercise his option for an immediate rematch, for which it would be a 60-40 split in Fury's favor.
"I'm a warrior. He had a great performance, and we will be back stronger," Wilder said, seemingly indicating he wants to go for a third fight.
That is fine by Fury.
"He will be back," Fury said of Wilder. "He will be champion again. But I will say, the king has returned to the top of the throne."