LAS VEGAS —Tyson Fury entered the ring Saturday night on a throne with a crown on his head and walked out of it with the WBC heavyweight championship belt around his waist.
Fury dominated Deontay Wilder in the highly anticipated rematch of the undefeated heavyweights and forced Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel in the seventh round. Fury took every minute of every round, knocked down Wilder twice and landed 58 punches to 18 by Wilder.
“The king has returned,” Fury said in the ring after his victory before leading the sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand in a singing of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
Fury’s win caps one of the great comeback stories in sports history as Fury battled mental and drug problems five years ago and saw his weight balloon to nearly 400 pounds after defeating Wladimir Klitschko to become the lineal heavyweight champion.
Before Wilder and Fury made their entrances, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson were introduced and stepped into the ring.
It was a reminder of a time when the heavyweight champion was a household name in this country and when heavyweight championship fights rivaled the biggest championship games in other sports.
After a two-decade hiatus, heavyweight boxing returned to center stage and basked in the national spotlight it used to enjoy.
Not since Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis were facing each other has a heavyweight championship fight garnered the amount of mainstream and national attention as Saturday’s fight between Wilder and Fury.
It was impossible to turn on the television this week and not see the fight being talked about on an ESPN or Fox Sports network with many shows being broadcast from the MGM Grand.
Not only did the fight feel big but it delivered on the hype. From their grand entrances to each round, the fight delivered on the unprecedented hype and probably will lead to a third fight in September or October with a mega-fight against Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion, in the near future.
Saturday’s fight broke the record for a heavyweight gate in Las Vegas, according to Top Rank president Todd duBoef, with the previous record being the second fight between Lewis and Holyfield in 1999 that drew nearly $17 million at Thomas & Mack Center. That record probably will be broken later this year when Wilder and Fury become boxing’s next great trilogy.
“Deontay Wilder came here tonight and he manned up and he really did show the heart of a champion,” Fury said. “I hit him with a clean right that dropped him and he got back up. He is a warrior. He will be back. He will be champion again but I will say, the king has returned to the top of the throne!”