Setting an aggressive pace, Fury landed 82 punches compared to Wilder’s 34, according to CompuBox. Several of Fury’s blows transformed Wilder’s facial expressions into popular social media memes. He knocked Wilder down in the third and fifth rounds. By the seventh, Wilder’s trainer, Mark Breland, saw the damage on his fighter’s body and threw a white towel into the ring, compelling the referee to stop the bout. Fury won via technical knockout, giving Wilder the first loss of his professional career.
Wilder immediately rejected the decision by his corner.
“I just wish that my corner would have let me go out on my shield,” Wilder said in the ring.
Fury’s dominance was as conclusive as a fight could be. Still, Wilder exercised a rematch clause for a third bout. He blamed his bad performance on a bevy of unsupported rationalizations. He claimed the costume he wore while entering the ring — a 40-pound skull-themed knight armor set intended to note Black History Month — weakened his legs. He also accused Fury, without evidence, of fighting with tampered gloves.
“Maybe if you’d come out with one of these excuses, which would have been believable, but not 50 of them, come on,” Fury said. “What it tells me is that he’s a weak, mental little person who I am going to knock out on Saturday night.”
The pandemic and failed negotiations affected the third fight’s timing, and Fury began talking with another heavyweight, Anthony Joshua, and in March signed a two-fight deal to unify their titles. But an arbitrator ruled in May that Fury had to fight Wilder by Sept. 15. The bout was then slated for July, but Fury and members of his team tested positive for the virus, postponing the event until now.
Wilder fired Breland and enlisted Malik Scott, a boxer whom he knocked out in 2014. He said the two share a brotherly relationship, something that deteriorated with Breland after the fight in February 2020. During their preparation, Scott said he focused on diversifying Wilder’s attacks rather than simply relying on powerful right hand shots.
“I went to his toolbox — I didn’t give him the toolbox — and pulled out everything that I feel he would do well,” Scott said. “I made sure that we didn’t do it from a subconscious state or we didn’t do it by accident.”