Amid talk of it being an 'unnecessary rematch', Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder played out a classic heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday night - with much of the combat sports world paying tribute afterwards.
Much of the discussion in the lead-in to the third meeting of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder had been centered around if the heavyweight title showdown actually needed to happen.
The two warring rivals looked to have eked out all the drama one might have thought possible in their first two contests, but Saturday night's third chapter in what will go down as one of the sport's most enduring rivalries produced the most engaging spectacle of the set, as both men tasted the canvas on numerous occasions before Fury settled the affair with the fight-ending short right hook which sent Wilder down for a final time in round 11.
Don’t ever doubt me, when the chips are down I always deliver!— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) October 10, 2021
HELLUVA FIGHT!!! CLASSIC #FuryWilder3 🥊— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 10, 2021
Fury had promised, or guaranteed even, that he would win the war after the two prior battles (along with the determination of an independent arbiter) meant that a third fight was forthcoming – but if there was a danger of this being a performative affair where Fury built on the advantages he established in their second fight last year and eased towards a decision win, Wilder didn't follow the script.
Ultimately, he paid the price for doing so. But until the ending in the 11th, the American's grit was on full display. After being hurt in the third round, Wilder rebounded in the fourth to drop Fury twice.
Got to be respect between the 2 now. PLEASE!— Ben Davison (@BenDavison_) October 10, 2021
An amazing trilogy!
What a classic fight! This trilogy will live forever!— Timothy Bradley Jr. (@Timbradleyjr) October 10, 2021
What we just saw from Deontay Wilder is one of the gutsiest displays in a boxing ring in history, bar none. The man was battered around the ring by Tyson Fury and never stopped throwing. He meant it when he said he wanted to go out on his shield. #FuryWilder3— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) October 10, 2021
This was the story of the fight. Fury excelled but every time it looked as though he was about to stretch away, Wilder would claw himself back into contention courtesy of the concussive power which has delivered him 41 knockouts in his 42 career victories.
In the end though, this was Tyson Fury's story and closes a chapter of his career which has seen the Briton's redemption from underdog has-been in their first bout to all conquering, all-time great by the time they closed the three-fight series.
And judging by the reaction on social media, the third fight between the two heavyweight greats won't be soon forgotten.
Fury's the better man, but I have never seen a heavyweight get so much out of a single drop of fuel as Deontay Wilder in my entire life. Soldier-like bravery from him #FuryWilder3— Tom Gray (@Tom_Gray_Boxing) October 10, 2021
Tyson Fury knocks out Deontay Wilder in the 11th. What a freaking fight. What heart shown by both men. An all-time classic.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 10, 2021
BUT I THOUGHT BOXING WAS DEAD?!?
"Don’t ever doubt me, when the chips are down I always deliver!" wrote Fury online in the moments after his win – a performance which was also noted by NBA icon LeBron James who wrote that it was a "helluva fight" and a "classic".
"Got to be respect between the 2 now. PLEASE! An amazing trilogy!" added Ben Davison, Fury's former trainer who oversaw the early stages of his redemptive career arc.
"What a classic fight!" wrote former world champion Timothy Bradley. "This trilogy will live forever."
"What we just saw from Deontay Wilder is one of the gutsiest displays in a boxing ring in history, bar none. The man was battered around the ring by Tyson Fury and never stopped throwing. He meant it when he said he wanted to go out on his shield," said ESPN reporter Mike Coppinger.
I think Tyson Fury might have finally earned the chance to fight me.— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) October 10, 2021
"The overall better technique of Fury showed all night, and his ability to fight on inside was a difference," added renowned trainer Teddy Atlas, while boxing reporter Tom Gray said: "Fury's the better man, but I have never seen a heavyweight get so much out of a single drop of fuel as Deontay Wilder in my entire life. Soldier-like bravery from him."
"Tyson Fury knocks out Deontay Wilder in the 11th. What a freaking fight. What heart shown by both men. An all-time classic. BUT I THOUGHT BOXING WAS DEAD?!?" were the thoughts of MMA journalist Ariel Helwani.
"All hail the Gypsy King! One of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time. Incredible," wrote podcast king and UFC pundit Joe Rogan.
Several other MMA personalities also had their say, with Jorge Masvidal also paying tribute to both fighters.
"Bronze Bomber is a lion and I’m a fan for life," said Jorge Masvidal. "Tyson Fury is special and I’m a fan for life. Thank you both for the entertainment from start to finish. Inspired."
"The Gypsy King!!!!!!!!! Tyson Fury is a beast and boy Deontay Wilder has nothing to be ashamed of. This sh*t was crazy! I am so happy I watched this fight. Bravo fellas," said former UFC double-champ Daniel Cormier.
And another man with a vested interest in the Fury clan, YouTube sensation Jake Paul, was another who was impressed – and expressed it in typical fashion.
"I think Tyson Fury might have finally earned the chance to fight me," the novice boxer said.
Also on rt.com