Tyson Fury entered the ring on Saturday night on a throne with a crown on his head and walked out with the WBC heavyweight champion’s belt around his waist.
Fury dominated Deontay Wilder in the highly anticipated undefeated heavyweight rematch and forced Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel in the seventh round. Fury took almost every minute of every round, knocked down Wilder twice, and landed 58 punches versus 18 by Wilder.
“The King is back,” Fury said in the ring after his victory before leading the sold-out crowd of 15,816 at the MGM Grand in a chant of Don McLean’s “American Pie”.
Fury’s victory crowns one of the great comeback stories in sports history as Fury battled mental and drug issues five years ago and saw his weight climb to nearly 400 pounds after beating Wladimir Klitschko to become the linear heavyweight champion.
Before Wilder and Fury made their entrance, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson were introduced to a star crowd which included Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Jon Gruden and Michael J. Fox.
It was a reminder of a time when the heavyweight champion was a household name in this country and heavyweight championship fights rivaled the biggest league games in other sports.
After a two-decade hiatus, heavyweight boxing returned to center stage and was in the national spotlight it previously enjoyed.
Not since Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis faced each other has a heavyweight championship fight caught the attention of the general public and the country as Saturday’s fight between Wilder and Fury.
It was impossible to turn on the television last week and not see the fight we were talking about on ESPN or Fox Sports, co-producers of the fight.
Not only did the fight look big, it got a lot of hype. Big entries from fighters every round, the fight lived up to the bill and will likely lead to a third fight in September or October with a mega-fight against Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF, WBO and heavyweight champion. IBO, in the near future.
Saturday’s fight broke the record for a heavyweight door in Las Vegas, according to Top Rank chairman Todd duBoef, the previous record being the second fight between Lewis and Holyfield in 1999 which grossed nearly $ 17 million. dollars at the Thomas & Mack Center. That record will likely be broken later this year when Wilder and Fury become the next big boxing trilogy.
“Deontay Wilder came here tonight and he stepped up and really showed the heart of a champion,” said Fury. “I hit him with a straight right that let go and he got up. He’s a warrior. He will be back. He will be champion again, but I will say that the king has returned to the top of the throne!
It’s fitting that the Lakers face the Boston Celtics on Sunday before Monday’s memorial at Staples Center for Kobe Bryant.
There was no team that Bryant liked to play and beat more than the Celtics.
My favorite memory of Bryant playing the Celtics came on Jan. 31, 2010 in Boston when the Lakers came back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Celtics, 90-89, on a Bryant-winning shot on Ray Allen.
The highlight, however, came after the game. As Bryant stepped out of the shower in the visitor’s locker room, he mockingly hummed the unofficial Boston anthem, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys, over and over again.
When the Celtics routed the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Boston, Bryant remembered hearing this song constantly so he played it during the offseason to remember it. that he was feeling that night.
“I listened to this song everyday because it reminded me of that feeling,” said Bryant. “I listen to Dropkick Murphys all the time just because I want to remember that feeling.”
Bryant would win his fifth and final title that year when the Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 at Staples Center. It was perhaps the culmination of his 20-year career.
“If I lost this championship, I would be miserable,” said Bryant. “I would be absolutely miserable.”
Monday’s memorial scene for Bryant will measure 24 by 24 feet in honor of the number Bryant wore for the last half of his career and will be placed in the center of the Staples Center floor with seats surrounding it. The guest list will include not only the current and former Lakers, but several players coached by Bryant.
Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, who was one of Gianna Bryant’s favorite players, is expected to speak before flying off to face Stanford that night. The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings are set to face off on Tuesday, but many Kings players, including coach Luke Walton, who played with Bryant, are expected to be at the memorial. Golden State’s Steph Curry is expected to attend. The Memphis Grizzlies face the Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center after the memorial and several players from both teams are also expected to attend.