Tyson Fury against Deontay Wilder: a knockdown, a backlash, a heated corner and a rematch

“I literally saw his eyes roll in the back of his head,” said Wilder the day after Fury’s pavement

Tyson Fury is motionless on the canvas while his wife trembles with fear, and a few meters away there is a fight that is about to break out in a corner in the ring.

Commentators are screaming, experts have forgotten how to sit down, and 18,000 boxing fans are getting lost in the seconds that separate glory and disaster.

Deontay Wilder is on the verge of victory in the 12th round. It was a step too far for Fury – or so it seemed.

Welcome to the knockdown chaos that has stunned us all.

‘I’ll kick you out’

In his dressing room, moments after the December 2018 draw that led to Saturday’s Las Vegas rematch, Fury simply asks, “What round did I go to, 12?”

Who can not remember the points in the parallel universe in which a fighter lives when he is in survival mode.

He had also gone down to ninth place. But the way he was truly hammered on the canvas three rounds later more likely explains the horrified look on his wife’s face as she begins to undress for a shower. In the next few hours he will ask him to withdraw. The night was too much to take.

In just 12 months, Fury had lost an extra tenth weight during a debilitating battle for mental health. Within six months of his return to boxing, he had moved to challenge world heavyweight champion WBC Wilder. In just three minutes he saw a shock point win for some defeat – and then for a draw.

“Don’t let me take you on the biggest comeback in boxing history,” said Fury coach Ben Davison moments before round 12.

Across the ring, Wilder is asked from his corner: “Can you give me a great milestone?”

Less than 30 seconds later, he lands the type of hits perfected in thousands of lonely hours hitting a lot. Right hand, left hook: powerful, precise, spectacular.

Fury’s brother, Hughie, is standing at the edge of the ring, with his mouth open and his arms wide open like an icy goalkeeper.

“I honestly thought it was over,” says Fury promoter Frank Warren. “Wilder’s people around me were going crazy.”

“It was the scariest moment ever,” recalls Fury’s wife, Paris, who pushed one of his brothers to the ring to be with him.

“You have to sit down right now,” shouts a man in a jacket against the Fury Davison coach. “I’ll throw you out of the corner.”

But Davison can’t sit down. Nobody can. He is warned again, this time more physically. “Take your hands off me,” he says, as things heat up.

As Fury starts moving on the canvas, Ricky Hatton – part of the team in a corner – shouts to Davison’s ear: “If he can get through this round, he wins anyway.”

Davison simply joins his hands, closes his eyes and makes a prayer.

There are more than two minutes left and the most ferocious boxer in heavyweight history stands above Fury, postulating and blowing kisses as he waits.

“Anyone else you might have a half chance but not when you’re hit that way by Wilder,” Hatton tells BBC Sport.

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Mike Costello adds, “I was staring directly at the soles of Fury’s boots and there was no movement. I’m in good company when I say I still don’t know how he got up.”

‘One of the most miraculous things I’ve seen in boxing’

Fury v Wilder: ‘The division is alive again’ – how the dramatic final round unfolded

Fury blinks, gets up and is commissioned by referee Jack Reiss to run to his left.

Footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and actress Hayden Panettiere are in the front row at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and are looking around amused.

“You see disappointment, desperation, exaltation, concern, a coach praying, a coach almost expelled – all of these things are happening in 10 seconds, so it’s a really surprising thing,” adds promoter Warren.

It is difficult to understand how a fighter finds clarity of thought in such moments.

David Haye, a former world heavyweight champion, once prepared for a knockdown by rolling on the canvas in training before getting up – dizzy – to face an assault by partner sparring.

“Change your height,” Davison shouts from a corner, urging her man to at least vary Wilder’s target.

Fury has other ideas and positions, hands behind his back, brazenly provoking the man who tries to turn off the lights.

A reporter in the seat next to mine questions the goad: “No Tyson, not now, don’t be stupid Tyson, no.”

And then, as Fury recalls: “I hit him with the best right hand and with the left hook someone was ever thrown”.

The American is shaken.

“When Fury started gathering, I can’t say I believed he could stop Wilder, but I was aware that we were looking at something that would be remembered forever,” adds Costello.

The BBC commentator said to his listeners, “The division is alive again.”

And so it was Fury, as he approached the conquest of the world title.

“Anyone who wants to be punched in the face for a living, you have to be a little weird,” says former world champion Hatton. “You must have a lion’s heart, but fighting like he did at the time was a bad tactic, no doubt. I wanted him to hold on.

“It was one of the most miraculous things I have seen in boxing.”

A locker room with shaky heads

Witness of the punching power of Deontay Wilder

Fury throws the ring on the bell, his arms up, before shouting “it’s pay-per-view”. The fighters – each visibly bruised – hug each other.

The front row consensus is for Fury but the cards say a tie.

Three places behind me, a journalist punches the air. They bet on the tie.

Fury doesn’t want to start a riot. “His brothers were going crazy in the ring after the decision,” says Warren.

Wilder manager Lou DiBella is the first to ring the WWE world, stating: “The boy is The Undertaker to get up from that.”

Backstage, Fury hugs his wife. The concern on his face is evident. You have seen enough.

Curses fill the locker room. Everyone has a vision, yet none of them can change anything.

“Listen, we know the truth, I won that fight,” says Fury.

His brother Hughie intervenes: “Ten stones lost in a year. How did you get up from that second knockdown …” He can’t finish the sentence and instead shakes his head.

Hatton is also shaking his head. “When I went to fight Floyd Mayweather in America, even though I was losing, the margin size was diabolical,” he recalls.

“We always seem to get the bad end of the stick in the United States.”

Wilder tells the media he saw “eyes rolling in the back of his head” as he hit the deck. Fury arrives for a press conference dressed as a Miami Vice character: jacket, floral shirt, gold watch, red pants, baseball cap.

He orchestrates a surrender of Don McLean’s American Pie and invites journalists to participate.

Costello concludes: “It was one of those special moments in sport in which family and friends, aware of the fact that you were there, ask: ‘Have you seen it?'”

“There was a similar reaction when Usain Bolt danced across the line to win the Olympic 100m final in 2008. Those nights don’t come in a group.”

There will be a sequel. Las Vegas has a lot to live after the three minutes that have stunned us all.

Wilder v Fury: Tyson Fury sings “American Pie” at a press conference

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