Tyson Fury’s shot at becoming a world heavyweight boxing champion again has ended in a draw against Deontay Wilder who retained his WBC title.
Despite hitting the canvas in the ninth round and again in the 12th, the towering “Gypsy King” was able to return to his feet for a second time even though he appeared out cold, with just two minutes left in the clash.
And he recovered enough to continue to the final bell.
The 30-year-old Briton outboxed the 6ft 7in champion for much of the bout, but the showdown was declared a draw after a split decision by the three judges who scored the fight 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and 113-113 respectively.
While both men thought they won, neither was overly upset by the verdict in front of the 17,000-strong crowd at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
The boxers are likely to fight again next spring, when Fury would become the favourite, posing a greater threat to Anthony Joshua’s status as the world’s leading heavyweight.
In the past, former WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO champion Fury has admitted taking cocaine, had suicidal thoughts and lived to such excess he reached an estimated 27 stone.
He gained headlines earlier this year for his dramatic 10-stone weight loss ahead of his comeback to the sport after he accepted a backdated two-year ban from UK Anti-Doping in December 2017.
Fans went on social media to share their anger that Fury lost against Wilder, commenting “he didn’t draw he clearly won… the judges are wrong” and “nothing about that a fail by Fury!! Wilder failed to win!!”.
After the bout, Fury said: “We’re on away soil, I was knocked down twice but I still genuinely believe I won that fight.
“I am going to remain professional. I went to Germany and beat [Wladimir] Klitschko, I came here and felt I beat Wilder.
“God love America, the Gypsy King is back.
“I am a fighting man and Jesus had his power over me tonight.”
He added: “One hundred percent we’ll do the rematch. We are two great champions. Me and this man are the two best heavyweights on the planet.”
Wilder also promised fans a rematch, saying: “I did feel I got it with the two knockdowns, but I was just rushing my punches tonight.
“When I rush them, they are never accurate. That’s what I was doing tonight.
“The rematch will happen and I will get him in that.”
Both fighters preserved their unbeaten records with the draw.
Fury came in three stone heavier than Wilder during the weigh-in earlier this week.
The pair had to be held back as tensions rose between the two fighters, prompting an increase in security to avoid matters escalating.
The match is only Fury’s third comeback fight since returning from a two-and-a-half-year absence from the ring, after suffering from depression, alcohol and drug problems.
Fury has spoken candidly in the press about his mental health and substance issues.