By Derek Bonnett: For the second time in heavyweight world title bouts Tyson Fury either exceeded expectations to some or did exactly what the others predicted. In November of 2015, Fury won a unanimous decision over a life-less Wladimir Klitschko in the eyes of many. Others saw Fury neutralize the long-standing heavyweight champion for the victory. On December 1, 2018, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder fought a memorable heavyweight class for one, not all, of the marbles in the division. The remaining stone, if you will, to Anthony Joshua’s Infinity Gauntlet. However, instead of defining Wilder as Joshua’s partner in a heavyweight Super Fight, the picture became murkier with a third party, Fury, laying claim to top spot contention rights.
A draw decision in boxing can leave fans feeling satisfied, rendering neither boxer a loser such as what we saw in December of 1991 when James Toney and Mike McCallum laid it all on the line evenly in a bout for middleweight supremacy. Some preferred Toney; some liked McCallum, but few cried robbery. The same could not be said a couple of years later in September of 1993 when the judges handed down their draw verdict following Pernell Whitaker’s dominant performance against Julio Cesar Chavez at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The word “Robbed” was splattered in bold print by copious publications and the scorer, trained or untrained, could not be found to justify the outcome. Fan and aficionado opinions on Fury-Wilder range somewhere in between these bookend examples.
The Toney-McCallum and Whitaker-Chavez bouts failed to produce any knockdowns though and Wilder managed to twice dropped Fury, the second a picturesque flattening and a gold standard recovery all wrapped into one. Equal controversy flooded the inter-webs regarding long-count accusations. Wilder nearly delivered on his promise to grant Fury the same fate as every other man to share a ring with him as a professional. This fortitude exhibited by Fury was not prognosticated in the aftermath of thirty-one months of inactivity, flab, and two less than inspiring victories.
The two boxers fought the early rounds at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA with nervous caution. Wilder’s output lacked efficiency, but he was swinging leather while Fury moved backward and flapped his arms as much as he flung them snaplessly at his opponent. Fury clowned, but demonstrated athleticism at times which compensated for his lack of educated technique. His punches smartened up as the rounds progressed and an established jab to the body and head caught the attention of the judges. Wilder wind-milled, but was not unsuccessful in landing telling blows along the way. The mid-way marker of the bout told the story of a very even contest with neither man able to fully exert himself over the other.
Fury, 30, stung the American champion and The Gypsy King looked to gain advantage in the rounds bank before being dropped in round nine. A right hand by the reigning titlist felled the lumbering challenger, but the former champion regained his footing only slightly scathed. Wilder, meanwhile, showed swelling about his eyes. The action to followed was excellent as Wilder tried to finish a foe who was trying to prove he was not all that hurt. Fury’s legs troubled Wilder, 33, as the American was not attuned to negating so much movement to secure a KO punch. Fury lost his senses in the twelfth courtesy of a right hand followed by a left hook. Plenty of referees, good ones, would have waved the contest off without a count after observing the manner in which the former champion met the canvas. Jack Reiss wasn’t ready to conclude his evenings work and he was not wrong. He made a call and it turned out to be the right one in the moment. Wilder was not done either and followed up with a finishing attack which Fury laudably weathered. The challenger landed hard blows in the final moments of the round.
When the final bell came, the controversy began. Support for the Fury Comeback of the Year train ran side by side with the Wilder wagon to victory. The official verdict, the only one the record books register, declared the two affable heavyweights even by scores of 113-113, 115-111 for Wilder, and 114-112 for Fury. Wilder retained the title and saw his record evolved to 40-0-1 (39). Fury’s ledger changed to 27-0-1 (19).
Amid all the clamor, my opinion was that a draw was a satisfying result and that there was not a bad card among the three judges. How definitive can a twelve round bout be judged when the more active fighter’s punch connects and the more accurate boxer’s punches landed have a difference of thirteen blows?
Yet, in the realm of controversial decisions, Fury Draw 12 Wilder earned top ratings at SecondsOut. Other controversial decision rendered in 2018 include Donnie Nietes SD 12 Kazuto Ioka, Nietes Draw Aston Palicte, Jerwin Ancajas Draw Alejandro Santiago Barrios, and Khalid Yafai UD 12 Israel Gonzalez among others.
Derek Bonnett can be reached on Facebook through DBOxing. He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.