LOS ANGELES– British fans invaded the Staples Center chanting, “There’s only one Tyson Fury!” along with the iconic tune of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond as they prepared for their favorite gypsy to enter the ring. A product of a failed matchup negotiation between World Boxing Council’s Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder and British unified champion Anthony Joshua, the Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury volunteered as tribute to face the Alabama champion and attempt to pull off an upset in front of his home crowd to prove he is still a relevant danger in the heavyweight division.
In what was Wilder’s eighth title defense, the leader of the “Bomb Squad” left everything inside the ring against a much swifter opponent everyone believed would get knocked out before the championship rounds. After 12 rounds of competitive action and a fight that lived up to the hype reviving the heavyweight division, neither fighter had their hand raised. Though neither fighter gained a victory on their record, the winners here were the fans.
Both heavyweights rushed to the middle of the ring immediately after the round opening bell as the divided crowd yelled out their country’s name. Wilder was the first to corner Fury against the ropes, landing a signature windmill punch the Brit seemed to take well. Later in the round, Fury turned the tables around pressuring the WBC champ into the ropes and landing crisps combinations and making the round a toss-up.
In the second round, Fury taunted Wilder by putting both arms up after the “Bronze” Bomber missed with another set of wild punches. Wilder, however, successfully landed one last solid left hand before the round was over. Wilder continued to pursue the knockout in the third assault as the “Gypsy King” utilized his awkward stance and agility to evade some of the power shots. Both heavyweights simultaneously landed shots as the round-ending bell rang.
The action continued in the fourth round as the heavyweight enemies turned their prior verbal exchanges into a physical one in the middle of the ring. Wilder landed a left uppercut as Fury ducked down in an attempt to counter and sustained control of the round.
Some fans booed in the fifth round as the action began to slow down momentarily. Fury effectively landed combinations, yet lacked pop in his punches to hurt Wilder. The fight reached its halfway point with no heavyweight down or even remotely hurt, as both took proper precautions and used head movement while going forward. Wilder landed a clean jab to Fury’s jaw in the last seconds of the round.
Wilder appeared slightly frustrated going into the seventh assault perhaps about his lack of success landing a knockout punch. The Bronze Bomber landed a heavy right, but Fury responded with a combination which made its way in between Wilder’s gloves. Fury remained collected and in control for the remainder of the fight as he jabbed WIlder’s eye shut.
The British lineal champ buckled Wilder’s knees with a one-two combination landed as Wilder left himself wide open in the eighth; however, Wilder landed a tremendous shot that temporarily stunned the former unified champion.
The crowd jumped from their seats as Wilder knocked Fury down in the middle of the ninth round with a massive right to the top of his head. Fury came back to land fantastic shots of his own and taunted Wilder by sticking his tongue out and urging him to keep coming forward.
In the start of the championship round, both boxers landed colossal shots silencing most of the critics labeling this fight as an over-hyped circus. Fury showed resilience as he kept coming forward regardless of the continuous power punches coming from the U.S. champion. Though Wilder stayed busy throughout the 11th round, the majority of his punches did not land or failed to land properly. Wilder hit Fury with a body shot that seemed to hurt him before the end of the round.
Wilder dropped the jaws of everyone sending Fury to the canvas for the second time in the fight with a monstrous right-left combination which seemed to finish the fight as Fury lied there motionless. Mimicking WWE’s Undertaker, Fury got up before the count was over and survived the remainder of the round, coming forward and not giving up.
The heavyweights embraced in a hug before the announcer read the scorecards. The judges saw the fight as a split draw scoring the fight 115-111 Wilder, 114-112 Fury, and 113-113 a draw.
“Me and this man here are the two best heavyweights on the planet…” Fury said post-fight. The lineal champ then proceeded to make chicken sounds as he mocked Anthony Joshua and called him a chicken. “He’s a Chicken. Chicken! Anthony Joshua, where are you? AJ Where are you!?”
Wilder agreed to Fury’s comments by saying, “We’re the two best in the world and we proved it tonight.”
Fury made the crowd roar in laughter as he said, “That’s the second best heavyweight in the world behind me.”
Both fighters expressed interest settling the scorecards with an immediate rematch, though Wilder said in the post-fight conference he’d prefer a unification fight with Anthony Joshua should he want the fight.
Fury turned his post-fight press conference into a party, getting the media and his team to join him in while singing. When asked if he was content with a draw, Fury declared he didn’t instigate questioning the decision because he knew his thousands of fans would cause a riot in the arena.
“They probably would’ve smashed this arena open had I instigated it,” Fury said lightheartedly. “I mean to the floor. I just wanted to be an ambassador for my country.”
The WBC champion also wasn’t pleased with the decision but gave Fury the proper respect for taking the fight in such short notice.
“I put my style against anyone,” Wilder said post-fight. “If it’s so wild and reckless, these guys should be running to face me. They should be running if I have so many flaws.”
The co-main event featured the unified junior middleweight champion Jarret “Swift” Hurd against former International Silver Middleweight Champion Jason Welborn who was making his debut in the U.S. Though Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) faced some competitive rounds, he scored a fourth-round knockout, landing a monstrous body shot Welborn couldn’t recover from before the referee count was over.
Welborn appeared unafraid in the first round as he came forward pressuring the current world champion attempting to establish his rhythm. Hurd evaded the majority of the punches with sleek head and waist movement as the former British champion tried to corner him against the ropes.
Both fighters engaged in middle-of-the-ring action at the start of the second assault, but the title-hungry Brit cornered Hurd once again successfully landing effective punches to end the round. Hurd seemed to regain confidence in the third round, landing beautiful shots to the Welborn’s body. Though Welborn held Hurd against the ropes once again, Hurd seemed to land efficient shots at proximity. The crowd roared from the stands as Welborn landed a series of combinations that seemed to trouble Maryland champion before the round-closing bell rang.
Fans were at the edge of their seats in the fourth round as both fighters traded heavy leather in the middle of the ring. Hurd caught Welborn with a nasty right hook to the liver that immediately sent him to the canvas. The title contender contemplated getting up but failed to do so before the referee count was over, causing the fight to be waved off in minute 1:59 for Hurd to remain undefeated.
World Boxing Council World Champion Jermell Charlo made his way to the ring to interrupt Hurd’s post-fight interview demanding a unification fight while screaming, “My phone is always on” before exiting the ring.
Mexican Junior Middleweight Champion Jaime Munguia has also expressed interest in a fight with Hurd and could be a possible matchup for the upcoming year.
Cuban heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz fought for the third time this year, defeating Travis Kauffman by 10th-round stoppage in their heavyweight attraction bout.
Both heavyweights commenced the fight cautiously as they jabbed away to feel the intensity of each other’s power. In the second round, “King Kong” came out swinging catching Kauffman with a clean shot. As the Pennsylvanian heavyweight landed punches of his own, Ortiz (30-1, 25 KOs) pounded his gloves and taunted him to keep coming forward.
Ortiz continued to be the aggressor, keeping Kauffman (32-3, 23 KOs) around the perimeter of the ring for the majority of the third round. In minute 1:45, Ortiz landed a punch below the belt which made Kauffman crouch over in pain. Ortiz received a warning from referee Thomas Taylor.
Kauffman provoked Ortiz to come forward, standing still with his arms down at the beginning of the fourth assault. Ortiz seemed to anger momentarily but maintained his distance. As the crowd began to boo, Kauffman put his arms up again taunting Ortiz. King Kong landed a clean punch right before the round-ending bell.
Boos continued to echo the arena in the fifth as both fighters failed to land anything of significance. The boos turned to loud cheering at the beginning of the sixth round as Kauffman went face-first into the canvas following a vicious left punch from the Cuban heavyweight. Though Kauffman survived the remainder of the round, Ortiz continued landing the crisper, more accurate punches.
Another round of light back-and-forth jabs, the seventh came and went with little toe-to-toe action. Ortiz motioned Kauffman to go for his chin; however, Kauffman did not.
Ortiz sent Kauffman to the canvas once again in the eighth round with yet another tremendous left. Kauffman took a knee as the referee counted, but managed to get up and continue the round.
Kauffman took a knee once again in the ninth, only this time over another low blow from Ortiz. In the final round, Kauffman kissed the canvas once again from a brutal right-left combination. Ortiz pummeled away with more combinations and body shots to eventually score a 10-round stoppage in minute 1:58 and win the bout by way of knockout.
In the pay-per-view opening bout, upcoming British heavyweight Joe Joyce (7-0, 7 KOs) scored a brutal first-round knockout against New Jersey’s Joe Hanks (23-3, 15 KOs) to maintain his knockout record and remain undefeated.
In the post-fight press conference, Joyce expressed interest in fighting Ortiz, claiming he wouldn’t be able to keep up with him due to his age.