Tommy Fury defeats Jake Paul via split decision in the most anticipated eight-round bout in boxing history.
Fury, 23, was the busier fighter, landing more accurate punches and demonstrating his boxing fundamentals.
The former Love Island star, brother of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, was knocked down by YouTuber-turned-boxer Paul in the eighth round.
One judge scored it 75-74 for Paul, with the other two scoring it 76-73 for Fury.
“For the last two years, this is all that has consumed my life,” an emotional Fury, who has now won all nine of his professional fights, tells BT Sport.
“Everyone thought I was running scared, but tonight I made my own legacy.”
After dedicating the fight to his newborn daughter Bambi, Fury added, “This is my first main event, I’m going to get bigger and better and if he wants a rematch, let him come.”
Paul – who lost for the first time in his seventh pro fight – 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, it is what it is, but that’s the boxing world.”
Build-up and atmosphere in Saudi Arabia
Several stars from the sports and entertainment world were present and many others followed the fight from home.
Boxing legend Mike Tyson and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo were among those in attendance at the Diriyah Arena.
Popstar Drake shared a screenshot of his $400,000 (£335,000) bet on Paul’s KO victory, while Home Alone actor Macaulay Culkin tweeted: “No better way to celebrate his half birthday than watching Jake Paul take a punch to the head repeatedly.”
The main event was given the full big-fight treatment, with legendary Master of Ceremonies Michael Buffer introducing both fighters.
Fury, dressed in white with his newborn daughter’s name engraved on his robe, was the first to enter the ring along with trainer and father John Fury and brother Tyson.
But with Fury patiently waiting, ‘The Problem Child’ Paul was still pacing his dressing room as the mind games continued. When Paul made his entrance, a chorus of boos echoed through the venue.
Unusually, the fight took place on a Sunday night, and although Paul and Fury have a huge following on social media among younger fans, the first bell didn’t ring until 22:30 GMT (01:30 local time) – almost an hour after it was scheduled.
The fight was the last lucrative sporting event held in Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom has spent billions to bring elite sport to its country, but critics such as human rights organization Amnesty International have accused Saudi Arabia of trying to “wash” the country’s “abysmal” human rights record.
How was the fight?
After all the hype and anticipation, it was a disjointed opening minute of the fight. Fury landed some solid jabs and ended the round with the first significant punch, a left hook.
Fury settled well in the second, swinging Paul’s head back with a clean jab – and even showing off by swinging his back hand and hitting the flush.
With Paul eyeing the only power shots, he looked at Fury’s forehead with a straight right but missed wildly on other occasions.
Paul started using his jab and was successful in the third. Then, somewhat bizarrely, Paul’s brother Logan was interviewed at ringside and with everyone in the arena able to hear, he insulted Fury and his family.
The fight already had divided opinion in the boxing world and the episode between rounds will have further cemented the thoughts of traditionalists who feel he is mocking the sport.
Logan’s comments seemed to spur Fury on as he landed with a short right hand and followed with a flurry of long range punches in the fourth, although Paul ended the round well, landing cleaner strikes.
Paul got the upper hand in the fifth round, but was deducted a point for a punch to the back of the head. Fury landed amazing uppercuts in the sixth, but also lost a point for holding. Neither fighter was warned by the referee beforehand.
The fighters were visibly tired by the seventh, the first time in Fury’s career that he had gone this deep into a fight. But it was the Briton who won the round at his work pace.
In a frantic final round, with both boxers trying to land the decisive blow, Fury hit the deck with a jab from Paul. He looked more scared than hurt and insisted to the referee that it was a slip.
‘It was my destiny’
The WBC said the winner will now be in the top 40 in the sanctioning body’s rankings, which in theory could pave the way for a future world title shot. It was a move that angered many hardcore boxing fans, who feel that there are much more deserving fighters who should be given a rating.
In his short career so far, Paul has boldly – and to the annoyance of fans – called out the best that boxing has to offer. He mentioned the likes of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, one of pound-for-pound stars, and, more recently, former British world champion Carl Froch.
But he suffers defeat in his first fight against an opponent with a background in boxing. He has previously faced YouTuber AnEson Gib, former NBA basketball player Nate Robinson and MMA fighters Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley and Anderson Silva.
“I’ve won every way in life,” he said. “I’ve come further than I ever thought possible. I’ll take it on the chin, but we can run back.”
Before the fight, Fury was told by his father and brother that he would be disowned if he lost.
“During all the way, I had a dream and a vision that I would win this fight, but now everyone can stand up and take note”, said the winner.
“I had pressure on my shoulders and I did it. This to me is a world title fight, it was my destiny.”