British boxer Tyson Fury has beaten American fighter Deontay Wilder in their WBC heavyweight showdown in Las Vegas.
Fury dominated throughout the rematch at the MGM Grand arena before Wilder’s corner threw in the towel in the seventh round, capping a remarkable career comeback for the 31-year-old.
The Mancunian – who once held all four world title belts – dethroned Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015, before his time at the top of the sport was derailed by depression and addiction as he reached an estimated 27 stone.
The victory also comes 14 months after Fury’s controversial draw with Wilder in LA – when he outboxed the WBC champion only for two knockdowns to deny him the famous green belt.
The 6ft 9in Fury vowed to take the fight to the 6ft 7in Wilder this time round – and he did just that, flooring the champion twice and completely dominating the action.
“Deontay Wilder came here tonight, really showed the heart of a champion, I hit him with a clean right hand and he got back up and battled on into round seven,” said Fury after the bout.
“He is a warrior, he will be back, he will be a champion again, but the king has returned to the top of the throne.”
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Fury – who has been praised for speaking out about his battle with cocaine and suicidal thoughts – landed a right hand near Wilder’s left ear to force the champion to go down heavily in the third.
And in the fifth, a right to the head and left hook to the body had a tired Wilder down again.
He was up quickly but looked stunned as Fury looked to bring about a conclusive finish.
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He bloodied Wilder’s ear, and seemed to lick the blood off his shoulder in a bizarre scene in the sixth round.
By the start of the seventh, another left hook hurt Wilder and all he could offer was his trademark, lazy, looping right hand.
Fury pinned him in the corner and the towel came in to anoint a new world heavyweight champion.
“Everything we did in the win tonight, we did in the gym,” said Fury, as he paid tribute to his team during his post-fight press conference.
He added: “Wilder is a very tough guy and I think they done the right thing (throwing in the towel) before he got severely hurt (because) he was very tired in there.”
Fury, dubbed the “Gypsy King”, had entered the arena held aloft on a throne by handlers, a royal robe around his shoulders and a crown on his head as the song Crazy by Patsy Cline played.
Wilder followed a few minutes later, his face hidden behind a glittery mask and a rapper in front of him.
After the fight, which was the first defeat of his professional career, Wilder said: “I make no excuses tonight, I got a lot of complications. I will come back and be stronger the next time around.
“This is what big time boxing is all about, the best must fight the best. I appreciate all the fans that came out tonight and supported the show.”
The American skipped his post-fight press conference as he was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, having required a couple of stitches for a cut in his ear.
Both fighters were guaranteed $5m (£3.85m) for the bout, but could make $40m (£30m) or so if the highly-anticipated fight performed well on pay-per-view.
Attention has already turned to a potential showdown between Fury and compatriot Anthony Joshua, who holds the three other world title belts.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has already tweeted that “AJ wants it bad” and that “this fight is gonna and has to happen this year” – it would be what is called a unification fight, with all four world title belts on the line.
Joshua reclaimed his three from Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December.
Fury said he also expects another bout with Wilder, saying: “I expect him to ask for a third fight. I’ll be waiting.”