Boxing | All hail the Gypsy King
All hail the Gypsy King.
Tyson Fury made his way to the ring on a gaudy throne, garbed in a royal robe and sporting a golden crown, but it was his performance in the ring which proved his royalty.
Deontay Wilder made his entrance in a costume reminiscent of the witch-King of Angmar; the Alabama powerhouse equally confident that no man on earth could stop him.
Fury (30-0-1) produced a defensive masterclass against Vladimir Klitschko the first time he won the belt, out-pointing the Ukrainian legend with a disciplined display in Germany back in 2015.
This time, Fury out-gunned the most feared puncher on the planet in Las Vegas.
The British boxer told all who would listen that he would go after Wilder, confidently predicting a second-round knockout in Wilder's home country.
A new trainer, a new game plan.
WBA 🏆 WBC 🏆 WBO 🏆 IBO 🏆 IBF 🏆 Ring 🏆 Lineal 🏆@Tyson_Fury n_Fury is the first boxer in history to win every major world title in the heavyweight division at some point in his career 👑 #TheGypsyKing ypsyKing pic.twitter.com/neujLCRVXK — Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) February 23, 2020
He took the fight to Wilder (42-1-1) from the opening bell, forcing an uncomfortable Wilder into the unfamiliar experience of fighting on the back foot.
Fury utterly battered Wilder from the outset, knocking him down twice on his way to a thrilling seventh-round stoppage.
There may have been some controversy over Wilder's corner's decision to throw in the towel in the seventh, with the 'Bronze Bomber' on the ropes in every sense, but there can be no doubt over the outcome of the fight.
Fury forced Wilder back with his jab in the opening round, before putting the American under considerable pressure in the second, using his superior size and weight to lean on and unsettle Wilder.
Wilder accused Fury of having pillow fists in the buildup to the fight, but perhaps the 'Gypsy King' managed to sneak some bars of soap into the aforementioned pillows.
A big right hand followed by a punishing body shot sent a bloodied Wilder crumpling to the canvas in the third.
Wilder beat the count, but looked unsteady and unbalanced, and soon hit the deck for the second time.
His second fall was ruled as a slip, and the bell came at a welcome time for the previously undefeated fighter.
He looked weary as he shuffled to his corner, sporting a burst lip and a bloody ear.
Wilder hit the ground for the third time in the fourth round after a tangle of legs with Fury, who looked increasingly dangerous as the fight went on.
Another crushing body shot from Fury saw Wilder taste canvas again in the fifth, but the Alabama native somehow managed to survive the round.
Wilder's titanic right hand has saved him in the past, but there was to be no one-punch miracle against Fury.
The finish came in the seventh, with Wilder's corner throwing in the towel after yet another relentless onslaught from Fury against the ropes.
There appears to be confusion in the Wilder camp over the decision to end the fight, with the fighter voicing his disappointment about wanting to "go out on his shield".
Tyson Fury remains undefeated and gives Deontay Wilder his first career lost by 7th round TKO to retain the lineal title and win WBC Heavyweight title !#furyvswilder2 #FuryWilder #WilderFury #WildervsFury2 pic.twitter.com/XUx9jtpAtf — Major Sports Alerts (@sports___alerts) February 23, 2020
As a shell-shocked and dismayed Wilder made his way to his dressing room, Fury belted out a typically charismatic rendition of 'American Pie' in the ring.
"Big shout out to Deontay Wilder, he showed the heart of a champion," Fury said in his post-fight interview.
"He will be back and will be a champion again.
"The king has returned."
There is no doubt now that Fury is the king of the division, and the best heavyweight on the planet by some distance.
He is the only member of the Fury-Joshua-Wilder triumvirate to taste defeat; the controversial draw in his first bout with Wilder the sole blot on his otherwise impeccable record.
The 31-year-old has held all four major heavyweight belts, and Muhammad Ali is the only other heavyweight to hold the Ring Magazine belt twice.
Fury now holds all the cards.
Wilder will likely invoke his rematch clause to complete their fascinating trilogy, but Fury will enter the third fight as the heavy favourite given his brace of performances to date.
If he retains his belts, a lucrative and seismic unification bout against Anthony Joshua - which will sell out any stadium of their choosing - awaits which could finally see the crowning of an undisputed heavyweight champion.
No need for a third let’s go straight to it in the Summer! #undisputed — Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) February 23, 2020
Fury's biggest foe remains himself.
He abdicated his crown almost immediately after toppling Klitschko, but the kingslayer's second reign could be far longer and glory-filled.
At 6"9, he has the size, boxing brain - and now arguably the power - to dominate the heavyweight division for years to come.
For a man with three sons named Prince, perhaps we should not be surprised that Fury has emerged as the king of the heavyweights once again.