LAS VEGAS (AFP) - Tyson Fury reigns again as a heavyweight world champion after battering Deontay Wilder on the way to a stunning seventh-round stoppage in their World Boxing Council title rematch on Saturday (Feb 22).
Fourteen months after their dramatic split-decision draw, Britain's Fury dominated the American champion - who had blood streaming from his left ear and leaking from his mouth when referee Kenny Bayless called a halt at the behest of Wilder's corner.
"The king has returned to the top of the throne," said Fury, who had dropped Wilder in the third and fifth rounds as he remained unbeaten - and handed Wilder the first defeat of his career.
The self-styled "Gypsy King" from northern England - who was borne to the ring on a golden throne - had put on a boxing masterclass in their first fight, but he was clearly ready to brawl from the opening bell on Saturday.
A massive right from Fury knocked down Wilder in the third and Wilder struggled to regain his legs - although when he went down again moments later it was ruled a slip.
A left to the body had Wilder down again in the fifth, and Fury was raining blows on Wilder when Bayless called a halt at 1:39 of the seventh round after Wilder's corner threw in the towel.
Wilder, 34, suffered his first defeat in 44 fights, falling to 42-1 with 1 drawn and 41 knockouts.
The "Bronze Bomber" was unable to surpass Muhammad Ali's record of 10 successful heavyweight title defenses.
"I just want to say a big shout out Deontay Wilder," said Fury, who improved his own unbeaten record to 30-0 with one drawn and 21 knockouts. "He manned up. he really did show heart of a champion.
"I hit him with a clean right hand and dropped him, and he got back up and battled on into round seven.
"He is a warrior, he will be back, he will be champion again." As a pro-Fury crowd at the MGM Grand cheered, Wilder briefly protested the stoppage.
"I just wish that my corner would have let me went out on my shield," he said. "I'm a warrior." Wilder had knocked Fury down twice in their first fight in Los Angeles - the Briton miraculously climbing off the canvas in the 12th round to hang on for a share of the spoils.
With new trainer Javan "Sugarhill" Steward in his corner, and with more than 16 additional pounds on his 273-pound frame, Fury was on the attack early, backing Wilder up with his jab and landing several hard shots in the opening round.
He didn't produce the second-round knockout he'd predicted, but he was clearly in control.
The fight, the biggest heavyweight collision since Lennox Lewis bludgeoned Mike Tyson into submission on the banks of the Mississippi River in 2002, drew a star-studded crowd.
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes was ringside, so were Mark Davis, owner of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders and Raiders coach John Gruden.
Retired NBA greats Magic Johnson and Jerry West were on hand, as was current Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green.
With the rematch in the books, fight fans will be hoping to see Fury take on compatriot Anthony Joshua - holder of the IBF, WBA and WBO belts - in a heavyweight unification bout.