Dpa/Las Vegas, Nevada
Britain's Tyson Fury became a world heavyweight champion for the second time on Saturday by handing American Deontay Wilder his first defeat at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the Las Vegas strip.
In a rematch of their controversial 2018 draw in Los Angeles, Fury had Wilder down in round three with a right hand to the top of the hand before knocking his rival down again in round five with a left to the body.
Fury found the finishing flurry in round seven by backing Wilder into a corner and barraged his opponent until referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to stop the fight as the towel came in from Wilder's team.
The win brings the Brit's unbeaten record up to 31 wins and makes him a champion for the second time after dethroning Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in 2015.
The defeat for Wilder ended his run of 10 consecutive title defences.
It has been a long road back to the ring for Fury after battling mental health issues and drug abuse during a three-year break, which saw him stripped of his titles.
The former heavyweight champion Fury was transported to the ring on a throne wearing a red robe and gold crown - a symbol of his self-proclaimed nickname 'The Gypsy King' and marking his reputation for grand showmanship that would not look out of place on a Las Vegas stage.
Eighteen months have passed since their first encounter in Los Angeles - one that ended with Fury rising off the canvas twice, and from a seemingly unconscious state in round 12, to fight to a controversial draw.
The sequel to their epic rivalry began with Fury on the front foot in the opening round pushing Wilder back with his jab and lunging forward with a series of left-right combinations as chants of ‘there's only one Tyson Fury’ echoed from the crowd in support.
Fury, who predicted he would dismiss Wilder in two rounds, tagged his rival with a pair of left hooks and even though Wilder survived Fury's attack, it was clearly a bad start to the champion's 11th title defence - a mark he shares with the legendary Muhammad Ali.
Wilder, who has been used to knocking his opponents to the floor for his entire career with 41 knockout wins, hit the canvas for the first time when Fury crunched his nose with a jab and then followed through with a left that caught the top of his head and sent him tumbling.
Wilder was down for a second time in that round, but referee Bayless ruled it was a slip.
Fury sensed that the fearsome puncher Wilder was fading and took the fight into close quarters in the fifth and floored Wilder a second time with two lefts to the head and a final blow to the body before Wilder sat on the seat of his pants.
By the sixth round, fans in attendance were witnessing a new style from Fury - a more aggressive come-forward stance.
He finished the fight with relentless malice, unlike the patient boxing tactics he used to dethrone Klitschko in his first three-belt coronation five years ago.
But Fury's win marked a return to his former charismatic self.
The days of drugs, depression and excessive weight gain were clearly long gone in round seven of his rematch with Wilder, as a final flurry of ferocious punches allowed him to return to the top of the heavyweight division.
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