Return of the Gypsy: Tyson Fury's 12th-round revival epitomizes his incredible redemption story
The 'Gypsy King' showed once again on Saturday why he is one of the best heavyweights alive
LOS ANGELES -- One division, one lineal champion and still only one Tyson Fury.
From the depths of hell in his personal life to the same inside the ring inhe had no business doing so, on Saturday in their pay-per-view showdown in Los Angeles, but there's little question the self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" won the war.
Completing an improbable turn from flashy villain to inspirational advocate over the past 11 months, Fury never ran out of gas and looked every bit the prime fighter he was three years ago this week in the last time he appeared in a fight this big when he shocked the world to upset Wladimir Klitschko.
Simply getting himself back to this point was shocking enough, but taking the best shot of the sport's most dangerous puncher and outclassing him in the process was likely enough to see the 30-year-old anointed as a British and Irish Traveller folk hero.
"One thing I do know is there wasn't many people who thought I could come here and box like I did," Fury said. "Two and a half years, there isn't any secret as to what I have been doing outside of the ring. I was living like a rock star. I came back from suicide and mental depression and substance abuse. Anything is possible with the right mindset if you believe in yourself."
Despite just two comeback fights in recent months against marginal competition, the 6-foot-9 Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) never faded or backed down against Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and fought with a style as daring as he said he would in the buildup when Fury routinely predicted a knockout win. He also didn't do anything to dissuade the idea that he's still the best heavyweight in the world.
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Fury's personal story was well-documented as he ballooned upwards of 400 pounds, fell into addiction of alcohol and drugs and nearly succumbed to a dark depression in which he was resigned to killing himself through excess in order to numb the pain. It's a comeback story worthy of a made-for-television movie due to how many people it might touch. But from a boxing standpoint, Fury's comeback wouldn't have made much of a dent had he lost and succumbed to Wilder's frightening power in Round 12 when a vicious two-punch combination appeared to leave Fury out cold on his back.
Somehow, someway he managed to rise at the exact moment all hope was lost in a moment that properly encapsulated the personal journey that led Fury to the fight. Asked at the post fight press conference whether it was Jesus Christ himself who woke him up and raised him off the canvas, the typically verbose Fury was short on explanations.
"I think so, yeah. I think I had the holy hands on me tonight and I was brought back and rose me to my feet on the brink of defeat," Fury said. "I can't tell you because I don't know. I don't know what happened."
Fury also showed a salient level of class for not blaming the judges despite a decision that very could have (and likely deserved to) have gone his way. Despite a pre-fight build that was heavy on one-liners and insults, Fury gave Wilder his respect after the fight and appeared willing to negotiate a big-money rematch.
Click here for complete results, updates from Wilder vs. Fury.
The only person Fury didn't have kind words for was unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), who failed to finalize a much-hyped bout against Wilder that would've crowned the first four-belt undisputed champion in heavyweight history. After Joshua-Wilder negotiations fell apart, the always opportunistic Fury sped up his comeback plans to call out Wilder and play spoiler on the division's best-laid plans.
"It's no secret that Joshua did not want this fight and he did not want it for a reason because Deontay Wilder is the most fearsome puncher in heavyweight boxing history and I saw it and felt it," Fury said. "Ole AJ wanted no part of that right hand. He can't move like me, he would've gotten nailed."
Joshua might be the biggest star in global boxing and a champion who regularly fights in front of upwards of 80,000 in his native England yet it's possible Saturday's performance saw Fury become the face of the division again, primarily in the U.S., where Wilder has had trouble gaining traction as a crossover star.
It may have been only fitting that Fury would headline the first heavyweight title bout on PPV in America since Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson in 2002. It was Fury, after all, who started the current heavyweight renaissance by doing the impossible in 2015 to end Klitschko's monotonous lineal reign. Three years later, the impossible nearly happened again.
"Every time a lineal champion has come back from years out of the ring he has been destroyed," Fury said. "I'm the lineal champion of the world, I'm not just going to lay down and not get back up."
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