Great Britain’s Tyson Fury became heavyweight world champion for a second time after producing a sensational performance to stop Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas.
In the highly-anticipated super fight rematch between the two titans, Fury took control late in the first round and never relinquished it, knocking down Wilder twice and bloodying him en route to the referee stopping the fight in the seventh where Wilder’s corner threw in the towel.
The victory, Fury’s 30th as a professional, caps a remarkable comeback after the Briton battled back from depression to return to the summit of heavyweight boxing.
A bulked-up Fury had vowed to knockout the Bronze Bomber and the 31-year-old completely outclassed Wilder to end his five-year reign as champion.
Fury now becomes the first boxer in history to have won every major world title in the heavyweight division at some point in his career.
The result now sets up the mouth-watering prospect of an all-British, world unification bout between Fury and Anthony Joshua, who holds the WBA, WBO and IBF world titles.
Wilder vs Fury 2: Fight report
On a night when the Gypsy King reclaimed his heavyweight crown, Fury was brought to the ring in fitting style, carried aloft on a throne, draped in a regal, red gown complete with a gold crown.
Wilder, with 42 wins and 41 knockouts on his record as well as the December 2018 draw with Fury, received a hostile reception on home turf.
After insisting he would knockout Wilder, the Gypsy King was good to his word, claiming the centre ring as the Brit took the early initiative.
That start set the tone for the fight as Fury smothered Wilder with a suffocating mixture of fleet-handed guile and brute strength.
Wilder, who was making the 11th defence of his title, had no answer to Fury's early intent and struggled to gain any footing in the fight.
The pair traded over-hand rights in a busy opening period that Fury dominated, pushing the Bronze Bomber onto the back foot.
The second round began in a similar vein as Wilder struggled to cope with Fury's aggression.
Wilder attempted to counter his challenger with a series of looping right hands over the top. While a few connected, the majority sailed harmlessly past Fury's temple as the Gypsy King deployed his sharp head movement to evade Wilder's notoriously heavy hands.
A stiff right hand from Fury saw Wilder's legs stiffen with seconds remaining in the second round but the Bronze Bomber was saved by the bell.
As the fight resumed, Fury used his reach advantage to continually beat Wilder to the punch.
He took complete total control in the third where he landed a right hand to Wilder’s left ear to drop him to the canvas for just the second time in the American's career.
His ear bloodied from the shot, Wilder never regained his legs or footing after that, wobbling through the rest of the match.
With Wilder clinging on, Fury again dropped the Bronze Bomber in the fifth with a right-left combination to leave the Alabama native visibly exhausted.
A one-point deduction for punching on the break was the only blot on Fury's copy book but the 31-year-old could not be stopped from sealing a resounding victory.
By the sixth, Wilder was bleeding from his left ear, his legs were completely gone and he appeared unable to defend himself as Fury picked him apart.
With Wilder backed up in the corner, Fury continued to press home his advantage, unleashing a series of stinging combinations.
Referee Kenny Bayless finally waved off the bout after Wilder’s corner threw in the towel.
It set off scenes of pandemonium among the sold-out crowd of 15,816 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
After the bout, former heavyweight champion David Haye lauded Fury's performance as 'one of the greatest' he had ever seen.
"We're witnessing boxing greatness, here," said Haye, who was a part of BT Sport's fight coverage.
"He’s proved so many people wrong – including myself.
"Fury walked him down, beat him down… no way did I think he could win like that.
"He has put himself on the list of great heavyweights with that one performance.
"Wilder’s lack of boxing fundamentals really showed, he was just flailing in the wind as Fury put the pressure on.
"But it doesn’t get any better than this – to come to America, Las Vegas, and win every second of every round."
Like many fight fans, the result had Haye talking up the prospect of an all-British bout with Joshua to unify the heavyweight division.
"There’s only one fight yto be made now!" he said.
"It’s what everyone wants to see: Fury vs AJ with all of the belts would be on the line.
"It would be the biggest fight in boxing history."
Wilder vs Fury 2: Post-fight interview
Fury: “A big shout out to Deontay Wilder.
"He came here tonight and he manned up and he really did show the heart of a champion.
"I hit him with a clean right that dropped him and he got back up.
"He is a warrior. He will be back. He will be champion again.
“But I will say, the king has returned to the top of the throne!
"Last time I was over trained and I was too light.
"I’m a man of my word, I told the world I was going for a knockout - we trained for a knockout.
"People always write me off, they look at my belly and my bald head, I’ve had my problems but he was fighting the real Gypy King this time.
"I expect him to ask for the rematch. He’s a warrior and I’ll be waiting. All great fights have trilogies."
Wilder: “Things like this happen. The best man won tonight, but my corner threw in the towel and I was ready to go out on my shield.
"I had a lot of things going on heading into this fight. It is what it is, but I make no excuses tonight. I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield. I’m a warrior. He had a great performance and we will be back stronger.
“Even the greatest have lost and came back, that is just part of it.
"You just take it for what it is. I can make no excuses tonight. I had a lot of complications.
"But we’ll come back stronger next time around. This is what big-time boxing is all about, the best must fight the best. I appreciate all the fans that came out and supported the show."
Wilder vs Fury 2: Social media reaction
WBA 🏆— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) February 23, 2020
Lineal 🏆@Tyson_Fury is the first boxer in history to win every major world title in the heavyweight division at some point in his career 👑 #TheGypsyKing pic.twitter.com/neujLCRVXK
Tyson Fury makes history:— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 23, 2020
He is now the 1st fighter to end TWO reigns of 10+ title defenses:
2015: Fury defeats Wladimir Klitschko, who was attempting a 19th title defense
2020: Fury defeats Deontay Wilder, who was attempting an 11th title defense
This was Wilder's 1st loss pic.twitter.com/ZCdXCSMhfJ
Wow unbelievable from Fury! Fair play and well done Sugar Hill and Andy Lee on first class game plan 👏🏼— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) February 23, 2020
Nobody ever tell me Tyson isn’t in the all time heavyweight great list now— Ben Davison (@BenDavison_) February 23, 2020
Brilliant from Fury!— Josh Warrington (@J_Warrington) February 23, 2020
Beat up Wilder & still looks fresh! #furyvswilder2
Congratulations @Tyson_Fury, devastating performance 👏🏿— Daniel Dubois (@DynamiteDubois) February 23, 2020
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Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2 is still available to purchase on BT Sport Box Office. Click here for more information.