Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder: a lookback at their controversial first boxing match

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder clashed for the first time ever in a highly-anticipated boxing clash on this day three years ago. The way the match ended, however, left many unsatisfied.

Tyson Fury (L) and Deontay Wilder in their first bout. (Image: Twitter)

When talking about great boxing trilogies, the most recent one that come to mind is the one between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

Both boxers are different in the way they approach the game, which made their eventual first match such an anticipated affair.

Fury’s all-round game makes him a tough opponent to discern and prepare for. Wilder, on the other hand, has one weapon that he uses to devastating effect: his knockout right hand.

Indeed, one of the reasons Wilder gained such a massive following was his ability to knock out pretty much anyone. But Fury was not and is not just anyone.

At the time, Fury had held all heavyweight boxing championships except the WBC belt. Which just so happened to be the belt that Wilder held.

The two boxers finally clashed exactly on this day (December 1) in the year 2018. And it was a bout that would go down in history – albeit for all the wrong reasons.

The finish of the match was disputed then and continues to be the subject of discussion now. Still, that doesn’t take away from the in-ring action – which was stellar.

With exactly three years having passed, let us now look back at Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder I.

The background

The fight between these two was one that most wanted to see for years before it did happen. Fury was seen by many as the best boxer in the UK alongside the likes of Anthony Joshua.

Wilder, on the other hand, became the first American heavyweight champion of the world for nearly a decade in 2015. That, and his impeccable knockout game, made him a fan favourite not just at home but elsewhere too.

The hype for this bout began as far back as 2014. Subsequent clashes at other boxing events led to the talk of a fight becoming more concrete.

However, before they could make things official, Fury would end up taking a break from the sport. The reasons? To take care of his depression and alcoholism-related issues.

Fury’s inspirational story of coming back up from rock bottom is well known at this point. However, by the time he was ready to come back, Wilder’s focus shifted to Joshua.

This is because by that time, Joshua had picked up IBF and WBA (Super) titles, two of the belts Fury had previously vacated. However, protracted negotiations between Wilder’s and Joshua’s camps got nowhere.

Fury once again laid out the challenge for Wilder in the summer of 2018. Eventually, their teams got together and thrashed out a deal for a fight in December.

At long last, it was on.

Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder I – How it unfolded

The bout, taking place in Los Angeles, California, had a big-fight feel to it. A capacity crowd of 17,698 came into the Staples Centre to watch two of the best heavyweights in the world go toe to toe.

The bout started slow, understandably so given both fighters wanted to feel the other out. Fury, for his part, was content to stay back and avoid too many big shots from Wilder.

The first major bit of action came in Round 4, when Wilder bloodied Fury’s nose with a couple of stiff jabs. Sadly for the American, he could not follow up on this injury.

By Round 6, Fury switched to a southpaw stance and managed to back Wilder into the ropes and even land a few sound blows.

That was a consistent theme of the match; Wilder was a little errant with his punches, whereas Fury stayed on the back foot but landed better shots.

However, when Wilder did manage to strike with full force, he made it count. Indeed, on two seperate occasions he managed to floor Fury, the first of those coming in Round 9.

A short left hook and an overhand right combination saw Fury drop to the floor, but he made the count quite easily. Admittedly, many were shocked; but Fury’s ability to take a beating is a key part of what makes him so tough to beat.

The knockout attempt left Wilder fatigued, and the next two rounds saw Fury dominate with a number of well-landed punches. However, Round 12 saw Wilder get back into the match when he again floored Fury.

A hard left-right left Fury on his back, and many believed the match was done. Amazingly, Fury just about beat the count and ended the round by landing some solid punches of his own.

The result and the aftermath

The immediate aftermath of the fight had fans split. Deontay Wilder had landed two knockdowns, but Tyson Fury had arguably outboxed the American over the course of the bout. And then came the judges verdict.

Incredibly, the match was ruled a split decision draw. Mexican judge Alejandro Rochin scored the fight 115–111 for Wilder, Canadian judge Robert Tapper had it 114–112 for Fury and British judge Phil Edwards scored it a 113–113 draw.

Quite how one judge handed such a decisive victory to Wilder was unclear, given Fury boxed circles around him. And the fans in attendance booed the decision.

After the fight, both fighters claimed the win but praised the other for the way the match went. And a second bout was duly signed on for February 2020.

That bout was far less competitive, as Fury absolutely dominated Wilder and secured a seventh-round corner stoppage when one of Wilder’s trainers threw in the towel.

A trilogy bout was invoked by Wilder, although it took longer to organise because Fury had agreed to fight Joshua. However, a contractual dispute between Wilder and Fury eventually led a judge to rule that the trilogy bout must happen first.

That match was far more competitive, but it was again Fury who walked out victorious after an 11th round knockout.

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