Deontay Wilder dropped Tyson Fury twice, but Fury also outboxed him for long stretches, leaving the judges with a lot to pick from.
In the end, they could not decide, and the heavyweight world championship fight, the second-biggest fight of the year after the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin rematch, was ruled a split draw on Saturday night before a raucous crowd of 17,698 at Staples Center.
Wilder nearly knocked Fury out in the 12th round with a hard knockdown, but Fury survived and stormed back for a memorable round of the year candidate in a fight that likely will see a sequel.
Judge Alejandro Rochin, of Mexico, scored the fight 115-111 for Wilder, Canadian judge Robert Tapper had it 114-112 for Fury, and British judge Phil Edwards had it 113-113 as both fighters remained unbeaten. ESPN.com scored it 114-112 for Wilder, who retained his belt for the eighth time. Fury retained the lineal championship in his first defense.
“I think with the two knockdowns, I definitely won the fight,” Wilder said. “We poured our hearts out tonight. We’re both warriors, but with those two drops, I think I won the fight.”
Fury, who had many British fans behind him, also thought he won.
“We’re on away soil. I got knocked down twice, but I still believe I won that fight,” Fury said. “I’m being a total professional here. I went to Germany to fight [Wladimir] Klitschko, and I went to America to fight Deontay Wilder. God bless America. The ‘Gypsy King’ has returned.
“That man is a fearsome puncher, and I was able to avoid that. The world knows I won the fight.”
From the moment the fight was made, Wilder promised he would do to Fury what he had done to every other man he had faced, and that meant knock him out. He came close, dropping Fury in the ninth round and again in the final round. But Fury showed the same kind of heart and will that helped him overcome the past three years since he won three major titles and the lineal championship three years ago.
this week in a monumental upset of Klitschko, the longtime champion.
Fury never defended the belts, as he dealt with drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues — including depression and suicidal thoughts — and weight gain from around 260 pounds to 400.