Tyson Fury produced the most disastrous performance of his boxing career to end Deontay Wilder’s five-year reign as WBC heavyweight world champion in seven electrifying rounds of their Las Vegas rematch.
The Briton, 31, trounced his rival in a way few could have imagined following their 2018 draw, flooring him in the third and fifth rounds while constantly backing up the most-feared puncher in the division in a way no-one has done before.
A jab and right hand – the combination with which Wilder has wiped men out repeatedly – sent the American down in the third, stunning the MGM Grand Arena.
Wilder, making his 11th defence, fell again before the round was out – this time a slip – and looked ragged under the pressure, before a left hand to the body sent the 34-year-old down in the fifth.
Fury delivered everything he had promised, transitioning from his hit-and-move style to overpower, outwork and bully his previously undefeated rival until the towel came in during the seventh round.
This was more than a world title win, it was a statement – and as Fury was held aloft by his corner after victory was sealed, the days of depression, weight gain and despair that cost him the belts he claimed in 2015 seemed a lifetime away.
It was offensively brilliant, and defensively savvy. It was so one-sided, it is doubtful whether Wilder will activate the trilogy rematch clause. It is hard to see how Wilder ever beats Fury.
Worth recalling, too, that Fury was seemingly a clear winner in the first fight 14 months ago. Fury claimed the World Boxing Council belt – the only belt he had not won from Wladimir Klitschko when he became the world No 1 five years ago – to complete the clean sweep.
Those in boxing, those who know their boxing, have always held Fury as the best boxer of the generation, and on current form, Fury would be too hard a puzzle, moreover, for Anthony Joshua, who now holds the other three world title belts. This was one of the great performances by a British boxer abroad, just like his display against Klitschko, and Lennox Lewis, the last undisputed heavyweight champion, working ringside on the television broadcast, nodded approvingly at Fury’s every move.
Those included imposing himself from the opening round, peppering Wilder with a hard, powerful jab, never allowing the American a foothold. It was masterful.
When his right hands landed, they landed with authority, pummelling the face of his foe with such regularity that the fallen champion’s face was soon etched with the confusion that colours a fighter being demolished.
Fury put Wilder down hard in the third, and then with a winging body shot in the fifth stanza, by which time the man known as ‘The Hammer from Alabama’ was simply a confused man on wobbly legs in Sin City.
The victory, the valedictory song afterwards, the claim of having implemented the return of the king, were all ringing true in the songs and words of an estimated eight thousand travelling fans celebrated one of the greatest triumphs of not just a British boxer, but a British sportsman abroad in history.
Given his story, moreover, of beating depression and obesity, it has to rank as one of the greatest comebacks ever.