By Connor Mirabella || Staff Writer
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder have maintained one of the most famous beefs in recent boxing history. Tyson Fury, a British-born, 6’9 boxer of Irish-traveler descent has been undefeated throughout his professional boxing career despite several hiatuses from the sport, in which he struggled with his weight, mental health, and substance abuse. Fury has made a fascinating and dominant comeback to the sport of boxing. His comeback culminated over a year ago in his first match against the also undefeated Deontay Wilder. Wilder had amassed a staggering 42 wins exclusively by knockout to earn him a shot at the heavyweight belt. Few of these fights ever looked very close; Wilder controls the space in the ring and is almost always moving towards his opponent and putting them on their heels, relying heavily on his right hook for finishing punches. Anybody who has seen this Alabama born brawler compete would consider his right hook to be a lethal weapon.
Despite the strength and tenacity of each fighter, their first bout in 2018 went the full 12 rounds and ended in a highly controversial draw (as many draws are). Most of the boxing community agreed that Fury dominated the start of the fight and should have been winning on all of the judges’ scorecards into the later rounds. Wilder did not earn this fight for nothing, however, which he revealed by knocking down Fury in dramatic fashion twice during the last 3 rounds. Both of these knock downs looked as if they could have been the end of the fight to everyone watching, including Wilder. Despite surviving a barrage of punches and jabs for over 10 rounds, Wilder’s confidence had not faltered into the end of the fight. That being said, the only word I can use to describe the look on Wilder’s face after Fury got up from the second knock down is defeated. I am not alone in believing that Wilder felt he was starting to give Fury his best- was that still not enough?
The draw was criticized by many, but no clear consensus emerged about who had won the bout. More trash talk from each fighter and discussion of the fight led to a scheduled rematch between the two boxers. Although they expressed mutual respect for one another after their first match, none of those sentiments appeared leading up to their second fight which had so much trash talk that the boxing league would not allow the two to do an official face-off (albeit, ridiculously- neither fighter has actually tried to attack the other outside the ring). The much anticipated rematch took place this past Saturday night, where Wilder’s pompous entrance in a 40 lb costume brought him right to the center of attention. The flashy habits of Wilder reflect his preparation and style, but Wilder could not have anticipated what was to come in a fight where he was favored to win by betting odds, commentators, and admittedly myself.
Fury had said many times in press conferences that he was having the best training camp of his life (a common tout) and planned to be relentless from the first bell to the last. He was going to try and outpace Wilder while constantly walking him down, preventing Wilder from getting into his own flow and using that lethal right hook. This is exactly what spectators everywhere saw when the opening bell rang.
Fury moved carefully and intensely towards Wilder the second the fight began and threw punches and jabs without pause. Wilder was clearly a little taken aback by the change of pace and kept closing towards Fury in bad positions, leading to them getting wrapped up. In each wrap up, Fury kept his left arm outside and over Wilder’s (as if he was grappling, which nobody wants to see in a boxing match) in order to keep his right hand at bay. The tide was fully turned by the third round when Fury knocked down Wilder with an epic shot to the head, just behind the ear. For those who aren’t as familiar with boxing, the spot behind the ear is very difficult to land but can be devastating, regularly causing athlete’s legs to give out from under them even if they retain full consciousness. Fury’s dominance continued almost unresisted from there on out until Wilder’s own corner called the fight during the 7th round. Wilder was furious with the referee for, as he saw it, allowing Fury to land more rabbit punches (to the back of the head) despite warning that he’d punish any fighter who did so.
Fury earned my fandom in this fight with an unprecedented dominance of one of the best boxers alive, but I too shared some questions about punch location. A lot of Fury’s punches did in fact land towards the back of the head, to the point where I wished someone could draw a sharpie line on each fighter’s head to show which punches would be considered legal and illegal. Was this fight the result of poor calling or is it possible that Fury was going to give Wilder the business regardless of the missed calls. That being said, Wilder was not the same fighter after his third round knock down, which was landed by a potentially questionable punch behind the ear. As exciting as the sport of boxing is, there should be certain levels of rule clarification that do not leave decisions up to discretion, but instead, up to a matter of technical fact and rules.
Junior Connor Mirabella is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.