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February 13, 2021

Tyson Fury TKO7 Deontay Wilder: 2020 Performance of the Year

by Matt O'Brien

An edited version of this article was originally published on on 8th January, 2021:

After a nail-biting finish to their first encounter in December 2018, which saw Tyson Fury largely outbox Deontay Wilder before having to twice peel himself off the canvas only to earn a draw, the stage was set for another finely balanced contest in their February rematch. Logic seemed to indicate one of two likely outcomes: either Fury would outbox his undefeated rival again, only this time avoid getting clipped like in the first fight and so take a clear decision, or else Wilder’s wrecking ball right hand would find Fury’s chin again, only this time he wouldn’t get off the deck.

What few people expected, outside of Fury’s new coaching team, was that he would follow through on his promise to go for a “Kronk style knockout” and batter the “Bronze Bomber” into defeat. In the event, that’s exactly what happened though, as Fury steamed across to the centre of the ring and took control right from the opening bell.

Even when Wilder did connect cleanly with a few of his vaunted right hands in the first two rounds, the Englishman was unfazed and simply stuck to his game plan of applying constant, educated pressure. From round three onwards it was all one-way traffic, with Fury landing a selection of solid jabs and snappy one-twos, all the while sapping Wilder’s strength by tying him up in close. Then, with about 30 seconds left in the round a huge right to the side of the head put Wilder down, and suddenly the complexion of the whole contest changed: now it was Tyson going for the kayo, and the hunter had become the hunted. The WBC champ tried to act like he wasn’t hurt, but there was no mistaking who was in charge, as a cocksure Fury mean-mugged him at the bell.

A solid left to the body floored Wilder again in the fifth, and even a point deduction from Fury by referee Kenny Bayless – apparently for pushing Wilder’s head down while they grappled inside – barely slowed his momentum, and what began as a 50-50 fight on paper became a one-sided beatdown. By the sixth Fury was confident enough to march straight through anything coming back, whacking hard shots to the body, wide hooks around the guard, short uppercuts inside, and generally just bullying a bloodied and forlorn looking Wilder with his huge size advantage. At the end of the round the American could barely stay on his feet and really should have been pulled out at this point.

To his credit, Wilder gritted his teeth and came out for more in the seventh, but Fury continued to patiently stalk, mixing in clever feints with jabs to the body and hard left hooks, before trapping Wilder in a corner and crashing home a series of solid rights. With a busted-up and wobbly Wilder being rocked with every shot and Bayless on the verge of jumping in, finally Mark Breland did the right thing and threw in the towel. An incredulous Wilder complained, but the fight was long beaten out of him and Breland potentially saved him from taking some serious damage and may well have prolonged his career.

Meanwhile a victorious Fury raised his arms aloft and embraced new trainer and architect of his great victory, “Sugar” Hill Steward. Together they had masterminded the complete domination of the most dangerous puncher in the sport, in probably the most impressive performance by a heavyweight since Lennox Lewis demolished Andrew Golota in a single round, back in 1997.

“You’re the best fighting man I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life,” an emotional John Fury, Tyson’s father, told him over the phone in the dressing room after the fight. “What a masterclass… Let me tell you son, it was some performance.”

With the latter part at least, we can surely agree. And in our opinion, it deserves to be called boxing’s best performance of 2020.

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