LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought to a split draw Saturday night, with Wilder retaining his WBC heavyweight title after knocking down his British challenger twice.
Wilder (40-0-1) floored Fury (27-0-1) in the ninth and 12th rounds, yet Fury clearly outboxed Wilder for large portions of the remainder of their entertaining showdown at Staples Center.
Fury looked finished when Wilder put him flat on his back with two minutes left in the fight, but he rose and made it to the bell.
Judge Robert Tapper scored the fight 114-112 for Fury, while Alejandro Rochin favored Wilder 115-111. Judge Phil Edwards and The Associated Press scored it a 113-113 draw, with Wilder's knockdowns compensating for Fury's superior technique.
Both men weren't overly upset by the verdict in front of a frenzied Hollywood crowd, embracing warmly and talking about a rematch.
The bout was a rare meeting of two unbeaten heavyweight stars in their apparent primes, with both fighters putting aside caution and the typical squabbles over money or belts to stage one of the best matchups in the glamour division's recent history.
And the fighters delivered, each in his unique way. The 6-foot-9 Fury spent nearly every moment of the fight nimbly avoiding Wilder's punches in a masterful display of shifty technique and athletic defense -- except for the two moments when the 6-foot-7 Wilder viciously knocked him to the canvas.
A punch to the top of Fury's head shockingly put him down in the ninth, but he bounced up quickly.
With just two minutes left in the fight, a vicious right-left combination from Wilder left Fury flat on his back. Even though Wilder made a throat-slashing gesture and mouthed "It's over," Fury gathered his senses and beat the count. He steadied himself and went back to work, and even landed a few shots of his own before the final bell.
Wilder failed to win for the first time since his semifinal bout at the Beijing Olympics, and he failed to knock out his opponent for only the second time in 41 career bouts. Yet the Bronze Bomber showed remarkable resourcefulness and power, avoiding what would have been a decision loss with those two knockdowns.
Fury also remained the unofficial lineal champion of the heavyweight division by virtue of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015. Fury responded admirably to a big step up in competition after a 2 1/2-year ring absence and two warmup bouts, but Wilder got him in just enough trouble to earn a draw.
Staples Center had a frenzied atmosphere after the high-energy introductions, but the fighters settled into a technical bout early.
Fury used his twitchy movement and near-constant feints to disrupt the Wilder's rhythm. The champion's trademark wild, looping punches rarely found their mark.
Fury struggled to generate consistent offense until a strong sixth round, likely costing himself early rounds. But the Englishman also made Wilder miss constantly, particularly ducking under Wilder's big right hand with grace.
Fury was elusive and creative in the seventh and eighth rounds, and Wilder had few answers. But early in the ninth, Fury went down when he absorbed a shot to the top of the head from Wilder.
The punch wasn't the biggest of the fight, but Fury was stunned -- and he responded by getting up and raising his aggression in an exciting round.
Fury went right back to work in the next two rounds, and a decision appeared to be in reach. That's when Wilder buckled Fury's knees with a right hand and knocked him senseless with a left hand on the way down.