Tyson Fury was wrong.
He said he would knock Deontay Wilder out in the second round of their rematch Saturday at MGM Grand Garden. He reiterated it through the promotion. He proclaimed it over and over again.
But he was wrong. Way wrong.
He stopped Wilder in the seventh round, instead.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 knockouts) knocked Wilder (42-1-1, 41 knockouts) down twice and beat the 34-year-old Alabaman so soundly that referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight at the request of Wilder’s corner 1:39 into the seventh round.
The 31-year-old Briton is now the WBC champion by way of technical knockout, and he celebrated his victory with a sellout crowd of 15,816 by singing Don McLean’s “American Pie” in the middle of the ring.
“He really did show the heart of champion,” said Fury, who made his way to the ring in a throne, crown atop his head, to the sound of “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. “He is a warrior. He will be back. He will be a champion again. But I will say, the king has returned to the top of the throne.”
That’s the Gypsy King, all right. The Gyspy King in all his glory.
Fury and Wilder fought to a controversial draw on Dec. 1, 2018, in Los Angeles, a fight that saw Fury land more total punches, a higher percentage of punches and more punches in nine of the 12 rounds. But Wilder knocked Fury down twice to salvage a split draw, triggering 14 months of hype and speculation ahead of the rematch.
Wilder and Fury both promised knockouts throughout a successful spirited promotion, which helped generate a live gate of $16,916,440 — a record in Las Vegas for a heavyweight fight.
But it was Fury who ensured there was no controversy the second time around.
Fury added nearly 20 pounds and hired trainer SugarHill Steward to replace Ben Davison for his training camp. The two worked on Fury’s offense for the rematch against Wilder, and he responded by pouncing in the first round with his jab and backing up the previously unbeaten Wilder.
He asserted superior skill improved power by sending him to the canvas with a sweeping right hand in the third round, and dropped Wilder again in the fifth round with a pair of left hands.
“This time, I wanted the knockout, and I thought the only way I could guarantee I would get a win was with a knockout,” Fury said. “We worked on our game plan in the gym, and we put it into practice in the ring.”
Fury continued to attack with jabs and hooks while Wilder struggled to find his footing. Wilder could hardly stand by the end of the sixth round, and Wilder’s corner conceded defeat in the seventh.
“The better man won tonight,” said Wilder, who is contractually obligated to a third fight against Fury, should he so choose.
“I make no excuses tonight,” he added. “I just wish that my corner would have let me (go) out on my shield. I’m a warrior…Even the greatest have lost and came back.”
Wilder had relied on his legendary power throughout the course of his career, but he lacks Fury’s skill, quickness and defense. Fury landed 82 punches compared to 34 for Wilder and 58 power punches compared to Wilder’s 18, per CompuBox.
Fury also beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to win the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles. He has won every major title. During the promotion of the fight, he claimed to be the best heavyweight of his generation.
Hard to argue after Saturday night.
“I’ve finished off my collection. My big, big collection of every belt in boxing,” Fury said. “It was a dream, coming out to Las Vegas and taking over. Putting on great fights. … I can’t wait for the next fight. The rematch, hopefully, if he wants to.”