TOAfter one of the great fights in heavyweight history ended, Tyson Fury leaned over the ropes and said a silent prayer. The world champion had just knocked out Deontay Wilder in the eleventh round of a tumultuous contest and his arms pressed on the ropes as he leaned his 6-foot-9 body in relief and gratitude. Fury’s gloves had been removed, but his hands were still covered in his sweat-soaked bandages. He laced his fingers in an ancient family ritual for the victorious Gypsy King.
As he prayed, Fury also cried. His brother Shane, a huge hairy man, covered the champion’s bald head with his hand. It was a gentle and comforting gesture that confirmed the clarity with which he understood that his older brother had been through dark and trying times before Fury came to dominate Wilder again. The American had shown immense courage and, at least until the final round, kept trying to unleash one last crushing blow to rescue himself from defeat. The fact that he came close to stopping Fury in the fourth round, when the champion fell hard twice, propelled Wilder until finally all of his valiant resistance was defeated.
Tim Allcock, Close friend of Fury who runs his camp with Shane, completed the picture in the winning corner. He stood to Fury’s right, his hand on the champion’s arm, as the prayer continued amid falling tears. Fury finally turned to the ring. He found his wife, Paris, and kissed her wearily before being engulfed again by the madness of heavyweight boxing and the demands of his post-fight reaction in a crowded ring.
It was a very different scene in the opposite corner. Blood covered Wilder’s lower lip, staining it crimson, while a small swelling rose under his right eye. On his stool, Wilder looked at the masked doctor as more blood seeped from his left ear. The doctor pressed a pad to Wilder’s lip and spoke in a low voice. At least the beaten boxer seemed alert as he listened. His fiancee, Telli Swift, was helpless by the ring, blinking back her own tears and nodding over and over again. Each nod seemed like a search for comfort that at least the brutal fight was over. Wilder then stood up. A sad look of new disappointment washed over his face and he closed his left eye as if he felt an eerie pressure on his head.
All these little private moments were poignant and gloomy reminders of how much boxing costs even its greatest champions. This was a fascinating contest, elevated by courage and determination, but it was also a damaging fight that will have torn hidden chunks from both men. Wilder was sent to the hospital, as a precautionary measure, because he had been knocked down three times and, more worryingly, he had received heavy blow after blow to the head. But the 35-year-old from Alabama refused to give up and, even when he was exhausted and exhausted, he kept looking to land one last thunderous right hand.
The conclusion of his epic trilogy confirmed that Fury is, unequivocally, the superior fighter. He looked very shaken when he fell twice in the same round, for the first time in his career, but Fury has remarkable powers of recovery. Even more significant, the 33-year-old has a natural aptitude for boxing. Rather than freeze or bewildered, Fury seems to think even more precisely and intelligently when in grave danger. He was aided by his trainer Sugarhill Steward who, at the end of the seventh round, gave him some industrial advice: “Just hit the son of a bitch, damn it!”
Fury duly returned behind the jab, a weapon Wilder had used effectively against the body all along before he was too confused to trust him once he had been sent to the mat in the third round. The American, who has always been a wild and ragged coach, resorted to almost total reliance on his right hand to get him out of trouble. He is capable of landing with terrifying force, but even Wilder’s mighty power was rendered defenseless by Fury’s far more skilled versatility and sheer in-ring skill.
It will take Wilder a long time to overcome the pain and damage he suffered in this glistening stretch of the Nevada desert. Fury also deserves rest and respite because even though he was such a decisive winner, this was a fight that will warn you that boxing takes everyone in the end. He will defend his title again, probably in the spring or early summer of next year against the winner of the fight later this month between Dillian Whyte and Otto Wallin. The winner of that fight, to be held in London, will become Fury’s mandatory challenger.
Whyte is expected to defeat Wallin and seal an all-British world title fight. But the reign of Fury, whose last great challenge is to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion, is unlikely to end later. The IBF, WBA and WBO belts are now in the hands of Oleksandr Usyk, who surpassed Anthony Joshua two weeks ago. They are locked in a rematch and the winner knows that all roads lead to the Gypsy King.
Usyk is the favorite to beat Joshua again but, after watching this fight for centuries in Las Vegas, a man as smart as the Ukrainian will know that Fury operates on a higher plane. Late on Saturday night, as he cried and prayed hunched over the ropes, Fury was still showing how much he had been forced to give in in the ring to find victory once again.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism