Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. As Creed II hit cinemas worldwide, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder cooked up their own Rocky story near the beating heart of Hollywood on Saturday night.
Stripped back, the fight went as expected. Fury dictated the pace of the contest floating around the ring like a bantamweight, picking and slipping shots, as the ‘Gypsy King’ looked to evade the ferocious one-punch knockout power of the champion throughout the 36 enthralling minutes.
He did. Well, he sort of did. Ignoring a ‘flash’ - potentially back of the head - knockdown in the ninth round, Fury toyed with Wilder, mocking him, shocking him, absorbing him, frustrating him, until... the final two minutes.
Was it a lapse in concentration? Was it exhaustion? Or was it the ‘Bronze Bomber’ digging deep into his skillset to produce one of the most dramatic and intuitive right hand-left hook combinations of his career?
Whatever it was, Fury was left rooted to the canvas. All 83 inches of the lineal heavyweight champion flattened motionless, as Wilder strutted, gloated and shimmied around the frozen ring.
This was it. Jaws were on knees ringside, heads were in hands and it seemed we were seconds away from the most dramatic of finishes to a heavyweight title fight. Referee Jack Reiss crouched over the carcass of the challenger until one of the most courageous acts inside a boxing ring followed.
Fury sat up, rose from the ashes, regained his balance, and somehow convinced Reiss that he was fit to continue. A true metaphor for the three years that have preceded this fight in the life of Tyson Fury; the Briton failed to admit he was beaten and finished the fight he started.
So we headed to the scorecards. The unmistakable voice of Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced that we had a split decision, and the sharp intakes of breath could be heard echoing around the Staples Center.
The rest is history. And the history books will tell us that Wilder and Fury fought to a draw, with one card reading 115-111 in favour of the WBC champion.
I scored the fight 114-112 Fury, with Wilder winning the first, the seventh and the two knockdown rounds. Even these rounds could be contested. Gifting Wilder the opening four rounds as Alejandro Rochin did is unthinkable, indefensible; unbelievable!
There needs to be an overhaul in the judging system, particularly for these high-profile super-fights where so much is on the line. Rochin can now add his name to Adalaide Byrd’s, CJ Ross’, Duane Ford and Pierluigi Poppi’s in the La La Land of mystical judging.
So where do we go from here? Arguably, the draw suits all parties. Both men remain unbeaten, both have their stock increased in the US and UK, and both have a chance to do it all over again for twice the money.
It’s been nice to cover an event in the heavyweights where Anthony Joshua’s name isn’t mentioned every second. Unified champion, yes, however, Fury’s performance on Saturday night confirmed that the heavyweight lineage is well and truly alive, in the safe, elusive hands of Tyson Fury.
Most of us believe that Fury won the fight on Saturday night, but a rematch will, hopefully, bring us one step closer to solving the heavyweight puzzle. Joshua now looks certain to fight Dillian Whyte (*cough*... or Dereck Chisora) on April 13, paving the way for Wilder and Fury to do it all again in the spring.
Speaking as a Brit, Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury for all the heavyweight marbles will bring this country to a standstill. Pubs will be packed, bars will be booked, and the chosen stadium could be filled twice over. It still remains a long way from reality.
Two of the many hurdles that need jumping: Eddie Hearn, and Deontay Wilder’s right hand. Throwing AJ in with Fury now looks a riskier proposition than it ever has in both men’s careers; Fury may also have another twelve rounds to negate if the rematch is signed.
Both guys deserve huge respect for the part they played on Saturday night. Both bought to the party what was expected of them, highlighting their standings at the top of the heavyweight tree.
That twelfth round will live long in the memory. Let’s hope that it’s the first chapter in a long and captivating read involving all three of these diverse heavyweights, each bringing something different to the table.