By Steven Bateson
Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought to a very controversial draw for the WBC and Lineal Heavyweight Championships on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Wilder had Fury down twice in the bout, including a brutal twelfth round combination, but Fury seemed to rack up the majority of the early rounds on the scorecards leaving most ringside and televised observers believing he’d done enough to earn victory. The judges however disagreed and it is extremely likely we’ll see the two rematch sometime in early summer 2019.
Fury deserves major credit, from myself included, for not only returning off a three year hiatus with two poor warm up fights but the mere fact he lost over ten stone and battled mental health issues in order to produce a comeback of this quality and magnitude should never be forgotten, no matter what the official scorecards read.
Fury began the fight with the same herky jerky style that had bamboozled Wladimir Klitschko during that famous night in Dusseldorf three years back and he was finding a steady home for his jab. Wilder, too, was pushing out his jab but he could not settle on a range to let his trademark right hand go. Both men exchanged a little in the corner at the end of the round but Fury was the only one on target with a short inside counter.
Wilder used his jab a little more in the second but Fury was bobbing and weaving out of the way and then throwing quick jabs to head and body whilst in motion. Wilder did land a glancing right at the end of round two but nothing that worried Fury in the slightest.
Fury’s jab was landing at will through the third as Wilder continued to stalk but throwing very little. Fury was enjoying himself, taunting his foe, and then scored a neat double jab followed by a right hand as he manoeuvred off the ropes. Wilder was already looking a little one dimensional, looking for that one big equalizer, and although he drew a little blood from Fury’s nose from a jab in the fourth he was yet to land anything of real note. Fury’s output did slow at this point and there was an argument the fight could have been level at this point but Fury began to come on strong.
The fifth was slow moving from both men, Wilder already sporting some swelling under the right eye from eating constant jabs, but Fury clinched the point late in the day as he began to drive home his right hand behind the jab. Wilder took the blows and looked undaunted but it was clear that he’d expected a little more success by this point.
Through the midway Fury continued to dictate the pace of the fight and whenever he wanted to land his jab he pushed it straight through the champion’s guard. Wilder was starting to look a little desperate, winging away, and Fury was making him pay with terrific one two combinations, hammering home three straight in the seventh to hand himself a convincing lead.
Wilder was breathing deep by the eighth and although he did finally land a right hand it didn’t hit the sweet spot and Fury was able to ride the blow with his constant bobbing and movement. Wilder’s usual punch landing statistics were being blown out the water as Fury negated him, not one single combination thrown by the WBC Champ at this point.
In the ninth, with Wilder staring at the prospect of losing his title, the defending champion finally found the punch he was looking for. Fury was tiring and backing to the ropes a little more which allowed Wilder to close the gap and finally make use of his left hook, instead of relying on the right. He caught Fury twice with the left and landed two crunching rights behind the ear that took away the challenger’s equilibrium. Fury wasn’t out on his feet, more scrambled than anything, but he beat the count and was able to bypass any more danger by leaning on Wilder at close quarters.
But if you believed he’s be deterred by the knockdown then Tyson Fury made believers out of us all tonight. He came out in the tenth and went on the front foot, almost goading Wilder to let his hands go and finish the job. Wilder was looking exhausted now, potentially having punched himself out in the ninth, and was forced to withstand some heavy right hands from Fury as the challenger made a grasp for the coveted green belt. Fury was taunting Wilder as he landed time and again, Wilder’s legs looking a little leaden for the first time.
Fury continued that success into the eleventh and although he was tired himself it was obvious that he was working off some kind of divine determination. Wilder was flat footed and trying to land one big shot as both men let their hands go in lazy, tired and dangerous exchanges. Fury was leaning on and holding at any sign of danger, draining whatever energy Wilder might have had left.
They entered the twelfth and final round and the feeling for most was that Wilder needed a huge finish, more than likely a knockout rather than multiple knockdowns. And he almost found exactly that; I’ll never know quite how Fury got through round twelve. Wilder pushed out his jab and then landed a huge right hand that had Fury tumbling but just to compound the devastation Wilder coupled it with a brutal left hook on the way down. Fury’s head bounced off the deck and he was looking at the lights, seemingly unconscious. The referee’s count reached six and Fury hadn’t even moved but suddenly he was up before the ten and somehow able to continue.
Wilder poured it on, sending his opportunity, and he landed a few more heavy fracturous shots but Fury withstood them and then, mesmerizingly, began to fire back. Wilder was out on his feet now, having emptied both barrels, and Fury scored an inside right and a left hook that had the defending champion clinging on himself. It was a dramatic finish as neither man had their legs fully underneath them but weren’t able to land the finish punch either. They embraced at the final bell and spoke words of respect to one another as they awaited the decision.
Wilder may have proclaimed after the result that he felt he won but his face told a different story before it. Most believed Wilder had brought the bout close with the knockdowns but not enough to swing the pendulum in his favour.
The scorecards themselves read: 115-111 to Wilder (frankly the judge shouldn’t work again with such a horrendous card) 114-110 for Fury and a 113-113 split.
Fury was graceful and respectful despite disagreeing with the result and paid homage to his opponent. Wilder was full of praise too and both men declared their intentions to seek a rematch in 2019, whether that be in the UK or the US. It is the next logical step and only real step for both men to answer who truly is the best. Anthony Joshua’s next fight is more than likely Dillian Whyte so it is left for these two warriors to settle their differences before hopefully securing an Undisputed title tilt in late 2019.
Jarrett Hurd broke the underdog dreams of Jason Welborn with a fourth round bodyshot KO to successfully defend his WBA, IBF and IBO Super Welterweight Championships.
Hurd began the fight working his jab, freeing up the shoulder following his rehab, but was soon finding himself pressed back against the ropes by the resurgent and determined challenger, something Hurd has been used to doing to his opponents. Welborn worked well and was finding a home for his overhand right on the inside as Hurd seemed happy to soak up the pressure.
Welborn continued to press in the third and although Hurd was countering him off the ropes the Briton was still having plenty of success, hitting the body and scoring with a few sneaky left hands.
It was a slow start from Hurd, something we’ve come to expect, and Welborn was making the most of it. The former British Champion was letting his hands go at will and seemed to catch Hurd’s attention as he unloaded on the ropes. Hurd was shipping punches, something he can’t be doing against bigger punches, but suddenly the champion roared to life and began to pulverize Welborn with a bombarding combination to head and body. Welborn stood his ground and tried to withstand the onslaught but then a big time right to the body dropped him in a heap and left him unable to answer the referee’s ten count.
It was a very spirited display from Welborn, who had been completely written off, and he can be proud of his efforts but the moment Hurd decided to turn up there was a gigantic gulf in class between the two of them. Hurd looked sturdy and solid following his shoulder surgery but even against a lower level of opposition with a low knockout ratio he shouldn’t be content to sit back on the ropes and invite pressure. Huge fights beckon for him, however, and the Charlo unification has to happen in 2019.
Luis Ortiz completely outclassed Travis Kaufmann on the way to a tenth and final round stoppage at Heavyweight.
Ortiz dropped his man three times, once in rounds six, eight and ten before another crunching barrage gave the referee no choice but to jump in and protect Kauffman from sustaining any more damage.
The Cuban, looking to propel himself back into the world title mix, dominated the early rounds off of his excellent jab and never once allowed Kaufmann even a sniff of success. Kaufmann was game but out of his depth and Ortiz began to sense that from the second as he put combinations together and cracked hard right hands into the body.
By midway Ortiz had taken every round but he turned it up a notch and dropped his opponent early with a straight left hand. He climbed onto the ropes to celebrate, prematurely, but Kaufmann surprised everyone by climbing back up and continuing. Ortiz carried on controlling and dictating before another left had Kaufmann down again in the eighth.
By this point it was heading for a landslide points victory but Ortiz wasn’t finished and sent another left crashing to the jaw in the tenth, sprawling Kaufmann to the canvass for a third time. Although the American was deemed ok to continue it took just another relentless barrage from King Kong to stage an intervention.
Ortiz (now 30-1 with 26 KO’s) had a tremendous fight with Deontay Wilder earlier this year, coming the closest anyone has to unseating the Bronze Bomber, and it is very likely we’ll see him in a final eliminator or even another world championship bout sometime in the spring of 2019.
Joe Joyce announced himself to the US market with a devastating first round knockout over Joe Hanks.
Joyce was on the front foot from the get go, he knows no other way, and was looking to light Hanks up with his ramrod jab. Hanks, boasting fifteen KO’s from twenty two wins, was happy to oblige his man in a street fight and scored with two solid right hands of his own as Joyce’s lack of head movement was exposed.
Joyce brushed his man with a chopping right hand off the jab and then they traded off centre ring, both men gaining success, after Hanks landed another solid right hand. But soon Hanks was out on his feet following a one-two and he gripped the top rope to keep himself up. Joyce momentarily stopped, looking confused as to whether the referee was going to intervene, but soon pounced forward again with a left hook that put Hanks down and unable to get his legs back under him.
Joyce (now 7-0 with 7 KO’s) had a tremendous amateur career and is making waves as a professional, it remains to be seen just how far he can go but he’s breezing through the opponents thus far. He may be a little stiff and easy to hit but we won’t know until he’s tested as to whether he belongs at the elite table. There is big talks of him facing high level opposition in early 2019 so it’ll be interesting to see where his link up with Abel Sanchez takes him.
Robert Guerrero returned from retirement to score a third round TKO against Adam Mate. Guerrero had his man down three times en route to victory but given the mismatch nature of the bout it is impossible to tell what he does or doesn’t have left in the tank. Guerrero (now 34-6-1 with 19 KO’s) has fought a plethora of who’s who from Featherweight to Welter but one has to wonder what his expectations are for this return, having initially bowed out due to three straight defeats.
Jesse Rodriguez staged a one sided six round decision over Josue Morales in a Super Bantamweight contest. Rodriguez (now 8-0 with 4 KO’s) dominated proceedings off of his jab before demonstrating the levels with flashy combinations to close out the bout.
Marsellos Wilder, younger brother of the WBC Heavyweight Champ, continued his unbeaten path at Cruiserweight with a four round shutout over David Damore. Wilder (now 3-0 with 2 KO’s) had his man down and through the ropes in round one but Damore managed to survive the onslaught and see out the four round distance. Scorecards read: 40-35
Former world title challenger Julian "J Rock" Williams obliterated Francisco Castro via a second round TKO. Williams (now 26-1 with 16 KO’s), stopped in 5 by Jermall Charlo in 2016, hinted that he will be facing Jarrett Hurd for the IBF, WBA & IBO 154lbs titles in May should Hurd win later in the evening.
Former English and Commonwealth Super Featherweight champ Isaac Lowe kicked off the show with a fifth round TKO over Lucas Baez. Lowe (now 16-0-3 with 6 KO’s), a member of the Fury team, turned down a shot at the British Super Feather belt to take this opportunity to box in America.