Tyson Fury was denied one of the greatest comebacks in history four years ago when his WBC heavyweight title fight against Deontay Wilder was scored a draw.
A December 1 affair that was expected to be cagey, instead produced 12 thrilling rounds that made a rematch inevitable even before the scores were announced.
Fury was first knocked down in the ninth round at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and again in the 12th, when he appeared out cold, but he returned to his feet and recovered enough to survive to the final bell.
Fury out-boxed Wilder but the knockdowns cost him, with the fight scored 115-111, 112-114 and 113-113, meaning the American retained his title.
Fury, who had admitted to taking cocaine, becoming suicidal and ballooning to 27 stone in the three years since defeating Wladimir Klitschko, said: “We are two great champions. Me and this man are the two best heavyweights on the planet.
“We’re on away soil, I got knocked down twice, but I still believe I won that fight. I’m being a total professional here. I went to Germany to fight Klitschko and I went to America to fight Deontay Wilder. God bless America. The ‘Gypsy King’ has returned.
“I hope I did you all proud after nearly three years out of the ring. I was never going to be knocked out. I showed good heart to get up. I came here and I fought my heart out.”
Fury and Wilder’s rematch took place in February 2020, with the British fighter scoring a decisive victory, stopping his opponent in the seventh round.
They fought for a third time in October 2021, and this time both men hit the canvas but Fury came out on top again with an 11th-round knockdown.
Fury remains unbeaten in his professional career and holds the WBC and The Ring magazine heavyweight titles.