The World Boxing Council has given its blessing for a direct rematch between heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, following the pair’s pulsating encounter in LA which ended in a contentious split-decision draw.
Wilder and Fury slugged it out over 12 rounds at the Staples Center last weekend in what became an instant classic, not least because of the barely-believable final round in which the Brit dragged himself off the canvas to beat the count after what looked like a lights-out combination from the Bronze Bomber.
The WBC has now given its direct backing to an immediate rematch, issuing a statement on Friday saying that a return bout would see “tremendous popular demand” from fight fans.
“The World Boxing Council conducted a voting through the Board of Governors, which resulted in a unanimous agreement to sanction a direct rematch between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury,” a statement read.
WILDER VS. FURY II ; The WBC conducted a voting through the Board of Governors, which resulted in a unanimous agreement to sanction a direct rematch between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.https://t.co/0RhUoV4CJt#WBC#Boxing#GreenBelt— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) December 7, 2018
“Wilder and Fury gave boxing one of the best fights in the heavyweight division in a long time, which has created tremendous popular demand for the fans to see a rematch.
“The WBC is happy to confirm that a direct rematch has been approved and will create in a ruling which will also consider the mandatory status of the division.”
The WBC announcement now means that lineal champion the Gypsy King can take priority for Wilder ahead of mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale.
It also means that the Fury and Wilder show will continue to cast shade on reigning WBO, WBA and IBF champion Anthony Joshua, who next fights at Wembley Stadium in London on April 13, with his opponent yet to be determined.
That bout is unlikely to be against Fury or Wilder as they seek settle their own score first.
The pair's remarkable encounter on December 1 was instantly labelled the heavyweight clash of the year.
Fury’s remarkable resurrection in the 12th round – which was his second recovery from a knockdown on the night – took the fight to the judges' cards, where it was scored 115-111 in favour of Wilder, 114-112 to Fury, and a 113-113 draw.
That left both fighters with grounds for grievances, with Fury and many observers adamant that despite the knockdowns he had largely outboxed the champion for the majority of the fight.
Wilder, 33, meanwhile has claimed that the referee’s count for the second knockdown of the night was slow and allowed the challenger to see out the fight.
The undefeated pair have both expressed a desire for an immediate rematch, with 30-year-old Fury calling for Wilder to come to the UK, suggesting the Old Trafford home of Manchester United football club as his preferred venue, while Wilder has urged Fury to do it again stateside.