Tyson Fury and his raucous followers could not overcome powerful Deontay Wilder who floored the giant gypsy twice to earn a split draw and retain the WBC heavyweight world title on Saturday.
No one in the more than 15,000 fans in the building was satisfied.
Only titleholder Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and lineal heavyweight champion Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) seemed satisfied after the decision was rendered at the Staples Center. The split draw keeps both fighters unbeaten and both also keep their titles.
Still, it was a heavyweight spectacle.
Fury seemed eager to have fun and eager to show off his defensive prowess against the hard-punching Wilder. Time after time Wilder’s windmill rights hit air as Fury slipped under the blows.
British fans cheered loudly throughout the fight and hurled insults in unison in the eastern section of the arena where celebrities like Laker great Jerry West and sat.
Once the fight began the cheering got even louder.
The fight itself was filled with head and body feints and both giant heavyweights willing to keep a distance. The few times they found themselves inside each other’s reach, Fury grabbed the slightly smaller Wilder who never resisted.
Punches never reached triple digits in any round of the fight, but if there were a wind factor from the blows missed it would have reach hurricane forces.
“I couldn’t let it go tonight,” said Wilder. “I was forcing my punches.”
Though Wilder opened up the first three rounds slightly more aggressive, Fury began controlling the fight with his snapping combinations and long blows. Round after round Fury began mounting points.
Fury got into a groove and seemed to be on cruise control when Wilder suddenly erupted in the ninth round with a right to the side of Fury’s head followed by a left hook. Down went Fury. He got up shaking his body a little and the fight resumed. Wilder tried to finish and Fury connected with a sneak left hook that connected. Wilder moved in more cautiously after that until the bell ended the ninth round.
Fury regained control of round 10 with a more aggressive approach. Wilder seemed to be wary of that blow in the previous round and was more selective in his attack. It was a big Fury round and allowed him to grab back the momentum.
In the 11th round Wilder returned to a more aggressive attack and was successful by attacking the body. Fury slowed to a crawl, perhaps thinking he was far ahead on the scorecards.
“”I felt I did enough to win the fight,” Fury said
The final round saw Fury connect with a solid one-two combination. The British fans roared with the success of their champion, but before you could say lickety-split Wilder unloaded his own three-punch combination and connected with a right cross and left hook.
Down went Fury hard and seemingly for good. But he picked himself off the ground and obeyed referee Jack Reiss”s commands. The fight resumed. Neither fighter could land another killing blow and the final bell rang.
One judge scored it 115-111 for Wilder and another 114-112 for Fury. A third scored it 113-113 a draw and both do not suffer a loss on their records. A rematch seems inevitable.
“With two knockdowns I feel I won the fight,” said Wilder. “I feel I did as much as he did.”
Fury felt he won but seemed more than happy about surviving the knockdowns.
“I got put down with some good shots,” said Fury with a big smile. “I came here tonight and gave my all.”
Fans seemed to want more as they left the building.