Tyson Fury’s shot at completing a remarkable return to the top of world boxing saw him survive two knockdowns to share an enthralling draw with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles.
In one of the most thrilling heavyweight contests for years, the Briton was floored in the ninth round and brutally dropped in the 12th, somehow regaining his feet to survive for two minutes.
Fury had shown plenty of the evasive, counter-punching skill set which made his name before his 30-month spell away from the sport and he enjoyed joy during the middle rounds.
But in the 12th he lay motionless after a savage combination, barely making the count to see out the contest, which was scored 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and 113-113.
Fury – and much of the ringside media – felt he had won and had he stayed on his feet in the final three minutes, the WBC title would have been his.
After 36 minutes of the most tense and absorbing action, both men spoke of a rematch and such a date now appears a certainty.
Fury, whose promoter Frank Warren claimed “everyone knows” his man had won, said “We’re on away soil, I got knocked down but I still believe I won the fight. I’m showing total professionalism.
“The Gypsy King has returned. I’m a professional athlete who loves to fight. He is a fearsome fighter. The world knows the truth.”
Wilder said his two knockdowns meant he “definitely won the fight”.
“I don’t know if it [a rematch] will be my next fight but would love it to be. We need to do it again.”