Tyson Fury remains on course for his much anticipated 2020 rematch with Deontay Wilder after surviving the most serious cut of his decade-long career to beat Otto Wallin via unanimous decision here in Las Vegas.
Fury sustained the dramatic wound above his right eye in the third and was forced to battle on for the remaining nine rounds against his previously undefeated opponent from Sweden.
Despite the drama, all three ringside judges made Fury a reasonably comfortable victor and the scores of 116-112, 117-111, 118-110 were a testament to the heart shown by the Englishman whose eyesight was badly affected for three-quarters of the fight.
Fury said: “I know Otto’s father (who died earlier this year) would be very proud of his son.
“It was a great fight, I got caught on the eye and that changed the fight. For the majority, I could not see out of the eye. Then there was a clash of heads and I got cut again.
“I hit him with some good shots, some big body shots,
“A good 12 rounds, he was tough. Deontay Wilder, I want you next, bum. That’s my fourth fight, it has put me in good stead for the big dosser, February 22nd. Let the cut heal, have some time to relax with the family.
“I haven’t seen the cut, it feels quite bad, but I’m the Gypsy Warrior. It’s all heart and determination. If I can keep going, I will keep going. He was 20-0 didn’t know how to lose but he does now.”
This clash came exactly 13 weeks after Fury had made light work of obscure German Tom Schwarz on the other side of the Strip at the MGM Garden Arena. That night he had thrilled the crowd as much with his USA-themed ring entrance as the 5 minutes and 54 seconds of action he served up.
It was hailed as just about the perfect Las Vegas debut for Fury as he started his 30-month big-money ESPN contract with a show befitting this particular corner of the Nevada desert. Emerging to James Brown’s Living in America flanked by showgirls in a full Apollo Creed get-up, Fury did not miss a trick.
Three months on, the idea was to continue the momentum generated that night with another Fury showcase. Members of the team had suggested that an American opponent would be ideal in a bid to further connect with the Stateside public. In the end, it was Swedish southpaw Wallin who got the call.
With that at stake, Fury’s second consecutive Vegas outing could not be too risky. As it happened, the gravity of the cut may mean that February 22 comes too early for the pair to clash for the second time.
Fury had promised to properly embrace his outing on Mexican Independence weekend, which has become synonymous with boxing in Vegas thanks to the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr and most recently Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The Gypsy King became ‘El Rey Gitanos’ for the week and vowed to put on a show for the Mexican people. In preparation, he spent the final five weeks of his training camp here in Vegas and was more than half a stone lighter than he was when he faced Schwarz in June. Indeed his 254.5lb weight was his lightest since he dethroned Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles back in November 2015.
His ring walk this time was as Mexican as humanly possible. Wearing a sombrero and red, green and white shorts, he rolled slowly to the ring on a carnival float, played in by a Mariachi band. He did not, however, exhibit many Mexican traits in the early rounds, as he boxed largely on the back foot, flicking the occasional jab out whenever Wallin got close.
He began punching with far greater intent in the third and landed a couple of right hands to remind Wallin exactly where he was. But Fury jogged back to his corner at the end of the third after sustaining the serious cut on his right eye during the round.
It seemed to bother him terribly throughout the fourth as he spent most of the stanza pawing at his eyebrow and shaking blood from his eye. As the corner furiously went to work on the cut in between rounds the crowd inside the T-Mobile gasped at the state of his eyebrow on the big screen. The wound was also affecting Fury’s ability to spot Wallin’s left hand, thrown from the southpaw stance, which he landed flush in the sixth.
Referee Tony Weeks instructed the ringside doctor to inspect the cut midway through the sixth but the bloodied lineal champion was allowed to continue. Wallin then swiped at the cut after Weeks had told the pair to break much to Fury’s disgust.
The incident appeared to galvanize Fury who had his best round of the fight in the seventh, landing with one particularly solid right cross which sent Wallin stumbling back against the ropes. But with every passing round, the cut was worsening and the Swede’s confidence was growing. Fury, realizing the gravity of the situation, was now the one marching forward, getting close to his opponent and unloading with hooks to the body and head.
Fury started the ninth on the front foot, dominating from center-ring and landing with a trio of heavy right hooks. He finished it even better and Wallin looked close to the end as the bell sounded to end the punishment.
By now, Wallin’s back was covered in the blood which poured from Fury’s cut whenever the pair got involved in a clinch. Fury was using all his knowhow to keep the eyebrow shielded away from the abrasive tape strapped around Wallin’s gloves. Seemingly exhausted, the Swede was doing little by way of attack by this point but he had already done far better than many expected. He was, however, clearly wilting.
But back he came in an explosive 12th, landing his best shot of the night when he drilled a straight left hand directly onto Fury’s cut eye. The 6ft 9in former world champion was forced to cling on. He made it to the bell and heard all three judges hand him victory but his blood-soaked shorts were a testament to the unexpectedly gory battle he served up here in Vegas.
Wilder will be licking his lips but he might now have to wait a little while longer to get to Fury.