11 rounds of sheer violence. Five knockdowns. Switching momentums. Genuine bad blood. What else did the third and (we assume, but you never know for sure) final fight of the bitter rivalry between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder have? Did the fight need anything more? No, it didn’t. It was special, it was epic – it was without a doubt this year’s Fight of the Year.
October 9, Las Vegas.
The rivalry had began way back in December of 2018 and it had taken almost three years to get to this point; to the point of closing the book on one of the most unexpectedly thrilling, memorable heavyweight trilogies ever. There was plenty to talk about going into Fury Vs. Wilder III. Was Wilder damaged goods, the way he appeared to be in fight-two? Was there any substance to the myriad of claims Wilder had of being cheated (tampered gloves, spiked water bottle, a crooked referee, an untrustworthy trainer, etc, etc, etc)? Could Wilder possibly improve his game under new trainer (and former foe) Malik Scott? Would Fury wipe Wilder out in double-quick fashion this time? Was there any real need for the third fight?
Well, fight-three was certainly well worth waiting for, and Wilder did improve his game. The final fight was by far and away the best fight of the trilogy, and the most evenly fought, with the action proving mesmerising; to the point where it was almost too much to keep up with at times. The fight we and the sport were treated to on October 9 was instantly recognised as a modern day classic. Wilder, 42-1-1(41) coming in, caused the first sensation when he backed Fury up, jabbing to the midsection, dictating the fight. Then Fury, 30-0-1(21) coming in, appeared to take over, having Wilder looking wobbly and unsure of himself. Then came the first of five knockdowns.
Wilder went down with a clatter in round-three and the end seemed near. Then came the fourth, one of the most amazingly entertaining rounds in heavyweight history. With Fury looking to close the show, an under pressure Wilder crashed a monster right hand into his rival’s skull; the hellacious shot sending ripples through Fury’s immense frame. Now it was Fury’s turn to taste the canvas. And then Fury was knocked down a second time in the torrid session. Fury had to all but scrape himself up and he was then very possibly saved by the bell, sounding as it did a second or so after his second rise from the floor.
From this point on it was a war, with both men seeming to give too much; Wilder especially. Wilder was soon showing major signs of fatigue yet on he pushed, driven by his intense desire to prove a point. Fury held the better shot and his engine was truly impressive, especially for such a big (6’9” and approx 270 pound) man. By the eighth and ninth rounds we were wondering how much Wilder could take, how much longer he could hang in there. Wilder was still looking to land a killer shot of his own but he was taking brain-rattling blows. The tenth saw Wilder hit the deck for a second time, from another Fury right hand. But Wilder again showed raw courage in climbing back up and, at the end of the session, he came close to forcing out a rally that spun the fight back in his favour. But Fury was in command now and it was a matter of time – in fact, it had seemed that way since as early as the third round!
Fury then lowered the boom in the 11th, his clubbing right sending Wilder down yet again. This time it was over and there were no arguments. Both men had given their all and only in a few years will we find out how much of a price each warrior paid; how much the savage, brutal battle took from them.
For now, though, both men were basking in the glory of a great fight; winner and loser both. If there was a more action-packed, more X-rated, more pulse-quickening fight this year, I for one missed it. Fury KO11 Wilder was and is The 2021 Fight of the Year.