LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01: Tyson Fury taunts Deontay Wilder in the ninth round fighting to a draw during the WBC Heavyweight Champioinship at Staples Center on December 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01: Tyson Fury taunts Deontay Wilder in the ninth round fighting to a draw during the WBC Heavyweight Champioinship at Staples Center on December 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Fury rises from dead in heavyweight classic

British colossus Tyson Fury courageously dragged his huge body and numb head off the canvas twice in his heavyweight battle with Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles but it wasn't enough for him to take the American's WBC heavyweight title.

The battle of the giants at the Staples Centre ended in a controversial 12-round draw as Wilder retained his belt.

Although Fury dominated most of the fight with his deft movement and brilliant defence, the knockdowns gave Wilder a four-point buffer on the scorecards.

The 206cm Fury, who had recovered from battles with depression, drugs and ballooning weight, dominated the fight but suffered knockdowns in Round 9 and 12.

Ultimately the knockdowns cost Fury what would have been an astonishing victory over the unbeaten 201cm American, who went into the much-anticipated battle with 39 knockout wins in 40 starts. And the only man who had previously managed to last the distance with Wilder - Bermane Stiverne - was knocked out in the first round of a rematch.

Fury scored a huge upset in 2015 when he outhustled Wladimir Klitschko in Germany for the world heavyweight title but his celebrations lasted for two and a half years and he did not fight again until June this year.

He was 116kg on Sunday, down from more than 180kg last April when he began his comeback. Fury had British boxing great Ricky Hatton (one-time conqueror of Kostya Tszyu) in his corner along with cutman Freddie Roach, the former coach of Manny Pacquiao.

Fury looked finished in the final round. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.
Fury looked finished in the final round. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.

The lanky 96kg Wilder is the most feared puncher in world boxing but for the first eight rounds he hit mostly air as Fury, ducked dived, sidestepped and clinched his way out of danger while landing plenty of potent jabs and crosses, sometimes even switching stances from orthodox to southpaw.

But in Round 9 Wilder landed a long right behind Fury's temple and dropped him.

Then in Round 12, Fury went down flat on his back from a massive right hand-left hook. Somehow he beat the count to finish the fight waving to the crowd with a victory salute.

While the pair had been at each other's throats in the lead-up, they literally kissed and made up in centre ring after the decision.

It was an incredible victory for Fury. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.
It was an incredible victory for Fury. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

One judge gave the decision to Wilder 115-111, another gave it to Fury 114-112 and the casting vote was a 113-113 draw.

"I am a fighting man and I was never going to be knocked out tonight,'' said Fury, whose record is now 27 wins and a draw in 28 fights.

"I got knocked down twice but I still believe I won the fight. That man is a fearsome puncher but I avoided most of his punches.''

The fight ended in a split draw. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.
The fight ended in a split draw. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.

Wilder replied: "I think with the two knockdowns I definitely won the fight. We both went head to head but he kissed me after it was over. He told me he loved me and said 'thank you for the opportunity'. The respect was mutual but I guarantee I'll knock him out in a rematch.''

On December 22, Fury will be ringside at the Manchester Arena to see his cousin Nathan Gorman, unbeaten in 14 pro fights, face Brisbane's big-punching Alex Leapai, a loser to Klitschko in a world heavyweight title fight in 2014.