Both fighters had a point docked during the eight-round boxing match at the Diriyah Arena, and Fury was dropped to a knee in the final round, but the Briton did just enough to win the long-awaited fight.
The bout had fallen through twice before – once in December 2021 and again last August – but finally played out on Sunday, with both fighters having promised a knockout in the build-up. Neither YouTuber-turned-boxer Paul nor Fury – half-brother of heavyweight champion Tyson – could find the finish, however, as the main-event contest went the distance.
Paul, 26, came closest to securing a stoppage when he stunned Fury with a jab in the final frame, but the 23-year-old’s work over eight rounds was cleaner than the American’s.
Each man was docked a point during the contest, with Paul penalised in Round 5 for a punch to the back of Fury’s head, before the Briton was punished in the following frame for holding Paul during a clinch.
Fury’s output was slicker throughout, though, as he built a narrow lead over Paul ahead of the final two rounds. Meanwhile, Paul sported greater damage to the face and was evidently tiring as the fight neared its conclusion.
Ultimately the judges’ scorecards read 76-73, 76-73, 74-75 in favour of Fury, who remained unbeaten at 9-0 (4 knockouts) with the result, which marked a first loss for Paul (6-1, 4 KOs).
Fury then broke down in tears while conducting his post-fight interview, admitting to having dealt with significant pressure in the lead-up to the bout, before both fighters said they were open to a rematch.
“Everybody thought I was running scared,” Fury said, with injury having led him to withdraw from a planned bout with Paul in 2021, and travel issues preventing the Briton from reaching the US to box the social-media star last summer.
“Tonight, I made my own legacy: I am Tommy Fury! I want to dedicate this fight to my new baby girl Bambi at home, and my Mrs. I love you.”
Meanwhile, Paul said: “All respect to Tommy, he won. Don’t judge me by my wins, judge me by my losses.
“I don’t know if I agree with the judges – I got a 10-8 round twice. But I’ve already won in life. I’ve made it further than I ever thought I would, and beyond.
“This is definitely a humbling experience.”
The American added that he had suffered from sickness and an arm injury during his preparation for the fight, but he denied that he was making “excuses” and paid respect to his opponent.
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