LOS ANGELES — There are few times, if any, where a draw in a major fight is a satisfactory result. But there was no loser on Saturday night when Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury engaged in a scintillating clash of heavyweight titans that left the 17,698 fans at the Staples Center — and the hundreds of thousands watching at home on PPV — in awe of what they just witnessed. Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing’s retired PPV juggernaut, stood just ahead of media row and shook his head in disbelief at what he just witnessed. The celebrities and fans lit up social media with commentary that dominated timelines and demanded the attention of those who weren’t in the know. Join DAZN and watch Canelo plus more than 100 fight nights a yearWilder-Fury infiltrated the mainstream. And that’s exactly what heavyweight boxing needed in 2018.It was the biggest heavyweight fight on American soil since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in the eighth round back in 2002. And even then, that fight didn’t live up to the hype as Lewis thoroughly dominated the boxing legend before putting him out of his misery. Wilder-Fury not only lived up to the hype, it gracefully hurdled it with an evening filled with drama and violence. Fury — the undeniable comeback story of 2018 who, just a year ago, abused drugs and alcohol, weighed nearly 400 pounds and admittedly was on the brink of suicide — silenced his naysayers by boxing brilliantly and surviving a pair of devastating knockdowns against one of the hardest punchers the heavyweight division has ever known. His improbable resurrection from the dead after a left hook laid him flat in the 12th round, was about as legendary of a recovery as Muhammad Ali surviving a vicious Joe Frazier left hook in the 15th round of their classic encounter in “The Fight of the Century” 47 years ago. It’s about as iconic of a moment that you can find in the history of boxing“I honestly don’t know,” Fury said of how he made it to his feet after Wilder detonated a nuclear bomb of a left hook on him in the final frame. “I think someone laid hands on me and brought me back, rose me from the brink of defeat.”Usually, the most dramatic moment of a fight is how a fighter goes down, not how he gets back up. But that narrative is fitting for Fury, who continues to overcome the odds. Wilder — America’s first heavyweight champion in nearly two decades that was saddled with making a dead division relevant again — gained the notoriety and respect he desperately sought after. Although technically outboxed by “The Gypsy King,” the 33-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Alabama refused to tuck his tail and call it a night. Instead, he swallowed his frustration and rebuffed any idea of just riding the fight out. Eventually, his power found its target, sending the unbeaten Brit down in the ninth and 12th rounds. Few fighters, if any, who rely so heavily on their knockout power would have endured the pending ridicule of being embarrassed by their opponent in a battle of fisticuffs to keep pressing forward. “I didn’t feel like I needed that round, we just wanted to — as a champion — finish in great fashion,” Wilder said. “You can’t be too naïve to sit back and think that you’re ahead in a fight because you never know what the judges are looking at. As the champion, sometimes you have to be the aggressor.”Although he didn’t think he was losing the fight, Wilder’s desire to close the show in dramatic fashion is what makes him a special fighter. But even he was dumbfounded by Fury’s ability to stand up after taking a wicked left hook that would have sent any fighter to their maker. “I literally seen his eyes rolling into the back of his head,” Wilder said. “When I saw the referee checking on him, I thought ‘it’s over.’ Only God knows how he got back up.”If nothing else, both fighters dramatically raised their profile and proved that the heavyweight division is the glamour division of the sport. Fury gained an American following courtesy of his iron will and remarkable resolve, while Wilder proved that he will never not be dangerous at any given moment of a fight. More importantly, heavyweight boxing needed this. And a draw was arguably the most fitting way the fight could end, regardless of who you thought won. “Are you not entertained?” Fury bellowed upon entering the post-fight press conference.Although miffed by the result, Fury was keenly aware of the gravitas of the moment. For once, heavyweight boxing thrived when all eyes were on the sport. He also knew that complaining about the decision in front of a heavily pro-Fury crowd that travelled across the pond to see their champion could have done more harm than good on a night where boxing thrived. “I was telling my brothers and my family to be quiet,” Fury said. “There were about 8,000 travelers, maybe 10,000, who had come from all around the world. They probably would have smashed this arena up if I had instigated. They’d have torn it down to the walls.”He was correct in his assessment. Several intoxicated fans were escorted out of the Staples Center before a single punch was thrown. Imagine if Fury had riled them up? Instead of talking about how epic this heavyweight encounter was, we’d probably be discussing how the chaos of a post-fight brawl gave the sport yet another black eye. To be clear, this wasn’t a robbery of any sort. Although Fury did an excellent job neutralizing Wilder’s right hand, there were bouts of inactivity during the early rounds that could have went either way. There was just enough uncertainty that a rematch is more than warranted. The high drama of Fury peeling himself off the canvas in the 12th round was the equivalent of Mike Trout being robbed of a walkoff homer in the 9th inning … of the World Series. Had he not made it to his feet, we probably wouldn’t be talking about an immediate rematch with so much fervor. And the rematch is where the money is at because this fight exceeded the hype and engaged a fanbase that was comfortable in its indifference for heavyweight boxing. That all changed on Saturday. “One thing I’m happy about is that this fight lived up to the hype,” Wilder said. “Many times we’ve seen fights being promoted and they talk a good game but when they get in the ring, it’s not as hype as how it was promoted. Well, this one was.”Given how the fight played out, an immediate rematch is easily one of the biggest fights that can be made in all of boxing. More importantly, both Wilder and Fury no longer need their next fight to be with unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. Instead, Joshua has become the odd man out in the heavyweight carousel. Join DAZN and watch Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 Had either won and their next fight not been against Joshua, public interest would have waned. Instead, all of the talk surrounds the rematch as Joshua is free to face anybody he wants when he returns to the ring next April at Wembley Stadium. By the time the dust settles, there’s no doubt that Joshua versus the winner of the rematch will be a massive encounter. Ultimately, the draw has become the best possible outcome for Wilder-Fury. It has created much-needed conversation in the heavyweight division and has brought mainstream attention to a pair of fighters with bigger-than-life personalities. Hopefully they settle this in 2019.
Southland weekly award winners are nominated and voted upon by each school’s sports information director. Voting for one’s own athlete is not permitted. To earn honorable mention, a student-athlete must appear on at least 25 percent of ballots. 2017-18 Southland Women’s Basketball Week 17 Notes (PDF)FRISCO, Texas – For the fourth time this season, Nicholls junior Cassidy Barrios is the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league announced Monday. Southland Players of the Week are presented by UniversalCoin.com. Nicholls (14-13, 9-7 SLC) is currently tied for sixth in the conference standings as the team prepares to close out its regular season against Northwestern State (7-20, 2-14 SLC) at home Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT and at Southeastern Louisiana (18-19, 7-9 SLC) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Women’s Basketball Player of the Week – Cassidy Barrios, Nicholls – Jr. – Guard – Raceland, La.Barrios continues to be the Colonels’ most valuable player, turning in another pair of 20-point games to lead Nicholls to double-digit victories in their two home games last week. In wins against rivals McNeese and New Orleans, the Raceland, La., native averaged 22.5 points on 50 percent from the field and 6-of-11 from three-point range. She added 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.0 blocks and 2.5 steals. Barrios started the week with her league-high 13th overall double-double against McNeese and nearly recorded another with 20 points and eight rebounds against UNO. She enters the final week of the regular season ranked third in the Southland in scoring, rebounding, free throw percentage, and three-point field goal percentage, second in steals and blocks, seventh in assists and ninth in field goal percentage. Barrios previously earned the award this season on Nov. 13, Jan. 8 and Feb. 12. Honorable Mention: DeA’ngela Mathis, Lamar; Brittany Mbamalu, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Randi Brown, New Orleans.