TYSON FURY underlined his position as the best heavyweight of his generation with a stunning six-round knockout of Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium. A perfect right uppercut, thrown in close and at full pelt, stole Whyte’s senses before a follow-up shove took his feet. The challenger courageously managed to beat the count but was rightly rescued by referee Mark Lyson as his body wobbled and lurched.
It was a sublime and in truth easy-peasy performance from Fury who afterwards confirmed his plans to retire. “I think this is it,” said the 33-year-old. “It might be the final curtain for the Gypsy King.” It seems hard to believe that Fury, who is not only the best of his time but surely one of the best of all-time, could walk away after a performance like that. But maybe he will. After all, he’s been surprising us since he turned professional in 2008. Since then, he has fought 33 times and not once been defeated.
Whyte never looked like being the man to beat Fury. The ‘Brixton Bomber’ – at least at this highest of levels – was exposed. By the end, his lips and the skin around his eyes were swollen. He’d even lost a tooth and his pride no doubt took something of a shellacking, too. He had been waiting a long time for this chance. Despite being the leading contender in the WBC rankings the Brixton man was forced to take legal action against the sanctioning body to secure his shot. In the days leading up to his title shot he was seen telling WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman that his treatment from the organisation was grossly unfair.
But it was Daniel Kinahan who cast the biggest shadow over proceedings after he was sanctioned by the US government for numerous alleged drug crimes 10 days before the fight. It triggered a domino effect that saw all promoters distance themselves from Kinahan and MTK Global, the management group he co-founded in 2012, fall in a matter of days. The timing of the sanctioning did Fury few favours; though just one of many fighters who has worked with Kinahan, he was the only one in the spotlight. He was forced to answer awkwardly and unconvincingly when the inevitable questioning came his way. It was not a good look for the world heavyweight king.
However, come fight night, boxing had yet again brushed off any negative press and Fury, just like he always does, proved that while he’ll never be perfect outside the ring he’s hard to fault once there. And tonight he exhibited his brilliance as both a fighter and a showman. His walk to the ring was simply breathtaking and most certainly had the air of a well choreographed goodbye. Fury was here to enjoy every moment.
The two rivals were exceptionally respectful in the build-up, almost oddly so. That continued to a degree in the first round as Whyte, 34, opened the contest as a southpaw and Fury kept his distance behind his jab. The challenger may have nicked the session as he stepped in and scored with leads of his own, aimed almost exclusively at Tyson’s body. But to say Whyte was convincing as a leftie is going too far.
Dillian began the second in the more familiar orthodox stance. It wasn’t long before he bowled over a right hand designed to put the favourite to sleep. But Fury’s artful movement and unteachable anticipation made the blow look amateurish in the extreme. By the end of the session, though Whyte threatened occasionally, the world champion was in control. He would not relinquish it.
In the fourth and fifth rounds, Fury’s punches were as spiteful as Whyte’s were wayward. The Londoner was breathing heavily, he was growing ever more careless. Fury, in sharp contrast, was on his toes and scoring with his jab and trailing left hook.
The ending was savage, the perfomance largely faultless. Whyte was made to look ordinary. And the extraordinary Tyson Fury made us all realise how much we’ll miss him if that really was the end.
“If my career was a computer game, you could say I completed it,” he said.
Perhaps. He has the earned the right to walk away but Fury, on this form, looked like he was just getting started.