Tyson Fury now stands alongside Muhammad Ali among the noblest legends of boxing

When it comes to valour beyond the call of duty, resilience to withstand punishing fire, capacity to produce the highest skill on the precipice of exhaustion and refusal to accept the spectre of defeat no matter how excruciating the pain there is nothing to compare with this in sport. Nothing.

What we were privileged to witness here on Saturday night stands favourable comparison with any achievement on any field of play. Ever.

When he was acclaimed last week as potentially even mightier than Muhammad Ali sceptical eyebrows were raised but Tyson Fury stands now among the noblest legends of the prize ring. With Deontay Wilder close behind.

Tyson Fury is undoubtedly one of boxing’s greats after his victory over Deontay Wilder

Fury now stands alongside Muhammad Ali (right) among the noblest legends of boxing

 Fury now stands alongside Muhammad Ali (right) among the noblest legends of boxing

Fury's impressive victory against Wilder was one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time

Fury’s impressive victory against Wilder was one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time

The heart stopping spectacle these two gladiators produced was not only a clarion call for boxing but one of the supreme heavyweight fights of all time.

In truth there were times when it defied belief. So violent were the exchanges, so brutal the onslaughts, so unremitting the pace.

Perhaps only the final act of the Ali-Joe Frazier three-parter – the Thrilla In Manila which The Greatest said took him closest to death – can be mentioned in the same gasping breath.

Fury-Wilder – which also stands now as an epic ring trilogy – was brought to its palpitating conclusion by Fury in this, the defining moment of his career.

Only the Thrilla in Manila in 1975 when Muhammad Ali (left) beat Joe Frazier (right) can compare to Fury's fight with Wilder

Only the Thrilla in Manila in 1975 when Muhammad Ali (left) beat Joe Frazier (right) can compare to Fury’s fight with Wilder

JEFF POWELL’S FIVE BEST FIGHTS 

1 Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier (October 1, 1975)

Dubbed the Thrilla In Manila, this was the third and final meeting between champion Ali and ‘Smokin Joe’. It was non-stop battering until the 14th round when Ali won by a technical knock-out after Frazier’s camp asked the referee to stop the fight.

2 Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder (Saturday)

Enough said in my report.

3 Riddick Bowe v Evander Holyfield, (November 13, 1992)

First and best of their epic trilogy. Holyfield, who defended his WBC, WBA, WBA and IBF titles, had moved up from cruiserweight and went toe to toe but lost a unanimous decision after a memorable 10th round.

4 Ali v Frazier (March 8, 1971)

First of their trilogy, labelled the Fight of the Century. Frazier won in 15 rounds at a packed Madison Square Garden. The fight was in such demand that Frank Sinatra could only get in by pretending to be a photographer for Life magazine. Frazier landed a left hook that put Ali on the canvas in the final round.

5 Ali v George Foreman (October 30, 1974)

The Rumble in the Jungle. Underdog Ali’s rope-a-dope tactics paid off as undefeated champion Big George punched himself out. Ali then landed a sensational knock-out punch in the eighth round of a fight staged in the former Zaire.

Twice he rose from being laid low by one of the most devastating punchers in the annals of the hardest game to go on and apply the two murderous 11th round knockdowns which ended this tumultuous affair.

Wilder had suffered the first of the five crash landings in this war. They might have hit the canvas half-a-dozen times each as they staggered in turn and turnabout from sledgehammer blows and clung on for dear life. Twice in Fury’s case to be saved by the bell.

Neither would succumb and even when Wilder was sent sprawling headlong for the final time he was struggling again to regain his feet and the referee had to prevent him trying to continue. He needed to go to hospital, not into a 12th, final and conceivably fatal round.

The accolades began scorching the airwaves on this desert night. To begin with from Fury’s UK and US promoters.

Frank Warren: ‘We saw incredible history made. ‘

Bob Arum: ‘This is the most fantastic heavyweight fight I’ve seen in all my many years.’

People much younger than he might never have conceived such heart-stopping living theatre to be possible.

This was a fight for the ages. Past, present and hopefully future if it captivates the imagination of younger generations.

And why not? Even in this year of the Olympics and Euros has there been a more exciting, riveting experience? Think not.

Follow that ! With what for Fury? After healing his wounds in the bosom of his family ‘and perhaps on a road trip around Lancashire with my father John in our Gypsy caravans’ who is the opponent to add yet more lustre to his legacy?

Anthony Joshua can count himself lucky that the megafight with Fury fell through on the evidence of his weak performance two Saturdays earlier in losing his world titles to Olexsandr Usyk, who is brilliant but too small for this task. 

Fury says: ‘I want to continue to prove myself the best heavyweight of my generation by beating the best of the rest. 

Despite being laid low twice, Fury responded to apply two murderous 11th round knockdowns

Despite being laid low twice, Fury responded to apply two murderous 11th round knockdowns

It will be intriguing to see what Fury's next move is following this spectacular fight

It will be intriguing to see what Fury’s next move is following this spectacular fight

‘But as I’ve always said, I’m the best and Deontay is the second best. And it took the two of us to make a great fight like this one.’

After the rigours of this battle a December title defence against Dillian Whyte looks improbable, even if the WBC declare The Bodysnatcher their mandatory challenger.

‘I’ll think about it after a party tonight and then a rest,’ he says. How richly he deserves both.

The party began with him singing this as he left the ring: ‘I’ve been walking in Vegas’ -as opposed to Memphis – before continuing in the hottest Vegas nightclub Hakkasan.

Anthony Joshua can count himself lucky that his megafight with Fury didn't occur

Anthony Joshua can count himself lucky that his megafight with Fury didn’t occur

He can take his time and his pick. The measure of the Gypsy King is even higher now than his 6ft 9in stature.

As for Wilder, whose only two defeats have been at the hands of this giant, Fury says: ‘He took a lot of punishment in there. He needs to think about what to do.’

The Bronze Bomber, at 36, may well decide to fly off into the Nevada sunset.

Fury’s parting shot, as he looked down at his own huge hands: ‘Not a bad night’s work for a so-called feather duster puncher. .

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