Tyson Fury produced the performance of a lifetime to dethrone Deontay Wilder and claim the WBC heavyweight title with a seventh-round TKO before a stunned crowd at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
Unbeaten Fury, 31, had promised a second-round knockout in the rematch following their 2018 draw.
And while commentators felt that was unlikely, few could have imagined the level of dominance the British boxer would exhibit, pummeling his American adversary from the start of the first round and scoring knockdowns in the third and fifth before Wilder’s corner threw in the towel in the seventh.
It was a performance that revealed another dimension to Fury’s boxing prowess as he brought Wilder’s five-year reign to an end and also thwarted the American’s bid to go one past Mohammed Ali’s record of 11 successful title defences.
Both men were unbeaten coming into the bout but it quickly became apparent a minute into the first-round that Wilder’s status and title were at serious risk as Fury exploded out of the blocks landing searing jabs and heavy right-hand punches seemingly at will.
A jab and right hand – what used to be Wilder’s weapon of choice – sent the American down in the third, stunning the MGM Grand Arena
It was only the second time the American had been floored in his career.
The American never recovered from that devastating third-round combination and had blood pouring out of his ear from what appeared to be a busted eardrum.
Unsteady and wobbly, Wilder fell again before the round was out albeit from a slip – and was ragged under the pressure, before a right and left hand to the body sent him down in the fifth.
Wilder was clearly out on his feet. The American could barely land any punches nor prevent any from landing and when Fury pinned him in the corner and landed a barrage of punches a minute and 39 seconds into the seventh, Wilder’s corner decided he’d received enough punishment and threw in the towel.
Fury led 59-52 59-52 and 58-53 on the cards when the towel came in.
“The best man won on the night. My coach threw in the towel but I’m ready to go out on my shield,” Wilder said after the bout.
“I had a lot of things go on coming into this fight but it is what it is.
“I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield, I’m a warrior. But he [Fury] did what he did and there’s no excuses.”
In defeating Wilder, Fury not only reclaimed the title, but he also delivered a performance that was more akin to a statemate as he showed that the dark days of depression, weight gain and despair that cost him the belts he claimed in 2015 were firmly behind him.
The Brit delivered a performance so stunning and so complete to dominate Wilder in a manner never previously witnessed.
“I want to shout out Deontay Wilder, he showed the heart of a champion. He got up and battled onto round seven. He is a warrior, he will be back and be champion again,” Fury said.
“But the king has returned to the top of the throne.”
With the WBC title firmly in Fury’s grasp, all the titles in the heavyweight division now reside in Britain for the first time in history with Anthony Joshua holding the other three belts.
It raises the prospect of a tantalising unification bout between both boxers and Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn hinted that they are open to seeing the bout happen this year.
“Of course I am! And AJ wants it bad..this fight is gonna and has to happen this year!” Hearn tweeted in response to a fan questioning if Joshua and Hearn would be keen on a fight following Fury’s devastating performance.
After years in the doldrums, it appears the heavyweight category is once again set to reclaim its mantle as boxing’s premier division.
For Wilder, the possibility of a third fight remains as per the rematch clause agreed beforehand but the manner of his defeat should provide the 34-year-old ‘Bronze Bomber’ with plenty to ponder on as he comes to terms with a first career loss and considers his next move.
It remains to be seen how Fury handles his return to the summit of boxing after admitting lacking motivation and spiralling into a dark abyss following his first title win over Vladimir Klitschko in 2015.
But on the strength of his conduct over the past two years, it is safe to say the Brit has truly and firmly turned the corner and could be poised for a sustained spell at the top before calling it quits in his self-appointed time frame of two years.