But on Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Fury's mind told him 'You didn't come this far just to lay down, not even to the most unsafe puncher in the sport.' Fury did not just get up, he came back and rocked Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO's) late as they battled to the end in a classic heavyweight battle before 17,698 fans, but the bout was ruled a controversial split draw.
But after failed negotiations this year, Wilder has labeled Joshua and his team cowards and soured on the idea of ever facing Joshua.
"I don't know what fight that judge that gave it 115-111 was watching".
He won the first of two tuneup fights that improved his record to 27-0 and set him up to fight Wilder, who before Saturday was 40-0 with 39 knockouts. That's when both hulking men heard a verdict that didn't satisfy them, but almost guaranteed a rematch of this exciting showdown. The American teased that depending on how this fight with Fury goes, he may opt another fight with him rather than face Joshua. During his post-fight news conference, when addressing the 12th-round knockdown in greater detail, he reminded people that he's been in more dire situations.
"I don't know how I get up, I had a holy hand upon me today and that got me back", Fury said after the fight.
A re-match would nearly inevitably be in the United Kingdom because of the support for boxing there and Fury's reputation - which he enhanced significantly with a courageous and skilful performance which would have won him a lot of new fans. "And the support that we got was great recognition for our team".
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The draw was also kind to Gareth Southgate's England who will face Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo in Group A . Mick McCarthy's team had originally been drawn in Group C , which features football heavyweights Germany and the Netherlands .
Fury added: "That man is a fearsome puncher, and I was able to avoid that".
The self-proclaimed "Gypsy King", who returned to boxing this year after missing more than two years, had boxed cleverly to evade the heavy-hitting threat of Wilder for most of the fight. Wilder opponents landed just 5 power punches per round- half the heavyweight avg.
However, in the ninth round, Wilder finally made his mark, dropping Fury with a short hook that had the fans on their feet.
The thrilling bout ended in a split draw, with Wilder retaining his WBC championship title for an eighth time.
The first half of the fight was extremely hard to call with so many tight rounds.
A right hand sent Fury rocking backwards towards the deck and a brutal left hand on the way down appeared to be the coup de grace for the challenger. "Fury's stock went up!"