2020 Performance Of The Year

Performance Of The Year Nominations:
Roman Gonzalez TKO9 Kal Yafai
Kazuto Ioka TKO 8 Kosei Tanaka
Tyson Fury TKO 7 Deontay Wilder
Teofimo Lopez W12 Vasiliy Lomachenko
Gervonta Davis KO6 Leo Santa Cruz
Joe Smith Jr. TKO9 Eleider Alvarez
Juan Francisco Estrada TKO11 Carlos Cuadras
Winner: Tyson Fury TKO 7 Deontay Wilder 

After a nail-biting finish to their first encounter in December of 2018, which saw Tyson Fury largely outbox Deontay Wilder before having to twice peel himself off the canvas only to earn a draw, the stage was set for another finely balanced contest in their rematch. Logic seemed to indicate one of two likely outcomes: either Fury would outbox his undefeated rival again, only this time not getting clipped like in the first fight and so take a clear decision. Or, the wrecking-ball right hand of Wilder would find Fury’s chin again, and this time “The Gypsy King” wouldn’t get up.

Fury vs Wilder

What few people expected, outside of Fury’s new coaching team, was that he would follow through on his promise to go for a “Kronk style knockout” and physically dominate his powerful opponent. But that’s exactly what happened as Fury steamed across to the centre of the ring, pressed the action, and took control right from the opening bell.

Even when Wilder did connect cleanly with a few of his vaunted right hands in the first two rounds, the Englishman was unfazed and simply stuck to his game plan of applying constant, educated pressure. From round three onwards it was all one-way traffic, with Fury landing a selection of solid jabs and snappy one-twos and sapping Deontay’s strength by tying him up in close. Then, with about thirty seconds left in the third, a huge right to the side of the head put Wilder down and the complexion of the whole contest changed: now it was Tyson going for the kayo, and the hunter had become the hunted. The WBC champ tried to act like he wasn’t hurt, but there was no mistaking who was in charge, as a cocksure Fury mean-mugged him at the bell.

Wilder vs Fury
“The Gypsy King.” Drawing by Damien Burton.

A solid left to the body floored Wilder again in the fifth as a 50-50 fight on paper had now become a one-sided beat-down. By the sixth, Fury was confident enough to march straight through anything coming back, whacking hard shots to the body, wide hooks around the guard, short uppercuts inside, and generally just bullying a bloodied and forlorn looking Wilder about the ring with his huge size and weight advantage. At the end of the round Deontay could barely stay on his feet and really should have been pulled out at that point.

Fury Wilder
“The Bronze Bomber.” Drawing by Damien Burton

To his credit, the American gritted his teeth and came out for more in the seventh, but Fury continued to patiently stalk, mixing in clever feints with jabs to the body and hard left hooks, before trapping Deontay in a corner and crashing home a series of solid rights. With a busted-up and wobbly Wilder being rocked with every shot, and with Bayless on the verge of jumping in, trainer Mark Breland did the right thing and threw in the towel. An incredulous Wilder complained, but the fight had been beaten out of him and Breland’s decision saved his man from further punishment and may well have prolonged Wilder’s career.

Gypsy King Fury

Meanwhile a victorious Fury raised his arms aloft and embraced the trainer and architect of his great victory, Sugar Hill Steward. Together they had masterminded the complete domination of the most dangerous puncher in the sport, in probably the most impressive performance by a heavyweight since Lennox Lewis demolished Andrew Golota in a single round back in 1997.

“You’re the best fighting man I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life,” an emotional John Fury, Tyson’s father, told him over the phone in the dressing room after the fight. “What a master-class… Let me tell you son, it was some performance.”

With the latter part at least, we can surely agree. And in our opinion, it deserves to be called boxing’s best performance of 2020.                      — Matt O’Brien  

 

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