Deontay Wilder retained his WBC heavyweight crown here Saturday after battling to a split decision draw against Britain’s Tyson Fury in a pulsating 12-round battle.
Wilder (40-0-1) had Fury (27-0-1) on the canvas twice, including a spectacular final round knockdown, but was unable to get the knockout victory he had promised to deliver at the Staples Centre.
The American must feel fortunate as he was outboxed by Fury for large portions of the remainder of their entertaining showdown.
Fury, back in the big time after his sensational defeat of Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, looked finished when Wilder put him flat on his back with two minutes left in the fight, but he rose and made it to the bell.
Judge Robert Tapper scored the fight 114-112 for Fury, while Alejandro Rochin favored Wilder 115-111. Judge Phil Edwards scored it a 113-113 draw, with Wilder’s knockdowns compensating for Fury’s superior technique.
Both men weren’t overly upset by the verdict after a compelling bout in front of a frenzied Hollywood crowd as they shook hands and hailed each other.
A smiling Fury said: “We’re on away soil, I was on the ground twice but I truly believe I won that fight, and I think everyone in here did too. Bless Wilder, thank you for the opportunity D. God bless you, and god bless America. The gypsy king has returned”
Wilder, meanwhile, was adamant he won the bout – but admits he wasn’t at his devastating best.
“I think with the two knock downs I won the fight. We both are warriors but with those two falls I think I won the fight.. I rushed my punches, I didn’t sit still, I was too hesitant.”
There’s the possibility of a rematch, or the even more tantalising prospect of either boxer going up against WBA, WBO and IBF champion Anthony Joshua next year.