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The results of the second and third fights between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder were the same — a later-round finish for Fury — but the reception couldn't have been more different.
Few boxers in history have seen a fall in credibility like Wilder did when he lost his WBC heavyweight crown to Fury in February 2020. It wasn't just that Fury thoroughly exposed Wilder to a degree almost unthinkable among modern boxers. It was Wilder's own excuse-making, the bizarre shots and Fury's showmanship that turned one of the most feared punchers in boxing into something of a joke.
That changed Saturday night. Wilder immediately came out with a level of aggression and, well, strategy unseen in the second fight, then almost did the unthinkable. He knocked down Fury twice in the fourth round and appeared moments from a massive upset.
Fury managed to gather himself and go back to work, laying into Wilder over the next several rounds. Wilder somehow stayed standing, however, and seemed to keep finding new reserves of energy when most other boxers would have gone down. Unlike the second fight, the suspense — between Fury's aggression and Wilder's home run shots — was there.
Fury finally put Wilder away in the 11th round with a TKO, but the perseverance from both men elevated the bout to "instant classic" status for many on Twitter:
Instant classic!!!! Wow
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) October 10, 2021
— Cody Garbrandt (@Cody_Nolove) October 10, 2021
— Russillo (@ryenarussillo) October 10, 2021
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) October 10, 2021
What fight. Classic
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) October 10, 2021
You follow boxing for years—dozens of good fights that never happen, hundreds of fishy decisions, championship belts that don’t make any sense—for nights like tonight. This is what you’re waiting for. It’s all worth it.
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) October 10, 2021
Wow. What a fight. A throwback to the days of the heavyweight greats.
Respect both men for their heart and for putting it all on the line. Bring on #FuryWilderIV #FuryWilderIII #FuryWilder#Wilder #Fury 🥊🥊🥊🥊
— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) October 10, 2021
Hell of a fight!!
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) October 10, 2021
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) 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.
BUT I THOUGHT BOXING WAS DEAD?!?
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 10, 2021
Unbelievable heart from both combatants...Wilder is alert, talking to doctor. Fury is celebrating and taking hearty congratulations. Amazing fight, just sensational.
— Lance Pugmire (@pugboxing) October 10, 2021
— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) October 10, 2021
A modern day classic.
Amazed by Wilder’s perseverance but Fury was incredible. The power of those shots was insane#FuryWilder3
— Adnan Virk (@adnansvirk) October 10, 2021
This is the greatest heavyweight title fight I have seen in a really long time! Go big boys!!!!! #FuryWilder3
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 10, 2021
a incredible fight with two legends. what a classic. The up most respect for these men
— Najee Harris (@ohthatsNajee22) October 10, 2021
Between this win and Anthony Joshua's second loss of his heavyweight titles, there seems to be little doubt Fury is on the top of the heavyweight mountain now. His next opponent figures to either be the winner of the Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk rematch, currently slated for early spring, or WBC No. 1 contender Dillian Whyte.
Plenty had praise for Fury for a well-executed fight:
It’s no doubt Tyson Fury is the baddest man in the world after knocking out Deontay Wilder in the 11th round! #wilderfury3
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 10, 2021
— Andy Lee (@AndyLeeBoxing) October 10, 2021
— Mike Pierce (@MikePierce170) October 10, 2021
There was, however, a large amount of reverence for what Wilder had accomplished, even in a loss.
The world knew that Fury was going to show up on Saturday. The question was if Wilder could make him sweat even a bit. The answer was multiple knockdowns and a ludicrous display of endurance even as Fury took control.
There is some debate as to how much you can actually impress with just your chin in a fight (you're still the one getting pummeled), but Wilder appeared to hit that maximum:
Wilder is the toughest dude I ever seen
— Marlon Humphrey (@marlon_humphrey) October 10, 2021
Anyways they gotta drug test Wilder lmao
— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) October 10, 2021
Wilder showed great heart against a great heavyweight, but he getting hit so cleanly so often by a 277 pound heavyweight is no bueno
— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) October 10, 2021
That did it. This was a helluva fight. Fury really earned that one because Wilder gave everything he had. Best heavyweight fight I’ve seen in years #WilderFury3
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 10, 2021
Say what you want about Wilder, the dude has heart, and went out on his shield. Much credit to Fury for a good performance! #FuryWilder3
— Jamel Herring (@JamelHerring) October 10, 2021
Deontay Wilder was like your cell phone when it had 1% battery life that one time and you were sweating in amazement that it kept going… then the spinning circle got you. Respect.
— Kevin Negandhi (@KevinNegandhi) 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
I learned more about Deontay Wilder in a loss than I ever knew about him in 42 wins.
An unbelievable warrior.
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) October 10, 2021
And, of course, there was one inevitable call-out:
I think Tyson Fury might have finally earned the chance to fight me.
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) October 10, 2021
Let's be real, whom among us wouldn't pay to watch Fury do to Paul whatever it is he would do.