Judge Robert Tapper saw the fight in Fury's favour, giving the Brit a 114-110 score, while Alejandro Rochin was clearly more impressed by the defending champion as he gave Wilder a 115-111 total. Wilder and Fury are set to fight on December 1 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
He had earlier frustrated Wilder with his jab and a succession of accurate right hands, but the American's late attack salvaged his WBC belt on the scorecards. I came here tonight and I fought my heart out.
The champion scored two knockdowns in the contest but struggled throughout to find the target against the tricky and tactically astute Fury, who used his superior boxing skills to control proceedings for long spells.
He will be reminded that Tyson Fury is a most hard man to encounter and that Deontay Wilder is a terribly unsafe puncher.
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Wilder scored the first of his knockdowns in the ninth.
Each will look at moments in the fight and wish they'd done something differently, but when you're fighting the best in the world, it's not simple to do what you want when you want.
A split decision means that they'll likely come back to do it all again at some point in 2019, but both fighters can leave with a tinge of regret that they didn't win the bout. The Englishman made Wilder miss constantly, particularly ducking under Wilder's big right hand with grace.
Fury went right back to work in the next two rounds, and a decision appeared to be in reach.
There were two different answers from Fury for the questions. But Fury went down again - and almost everybody thought it was for good. And it was the third one who got it right.