Tyson Fury’s bandwagon just keeps on rolling. A ruthless stoppage of Tom Schwarz inside two destructive rounds in his Las Vegas debut at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night led his promoter, Bob Arum, to proclaim that a rematch with World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder could go on to be “one of the richest fights in boxing history”.
That mega-fight will be an event that only Las Vegas could exploit to its fullest and Arum confirmed that the two huge heavyweights will meet here “in the first third of next year”.
It will be some occasion, certainly a more competitive one than this bout, which saw Fury extend his unbeaten record to 29 fights by dismissing the previously undefeated German challenger Schwarz and earn around £10 million in the process.
In truth, the outcome was never truly in doubt – a knockdown early in the second was the precursor for Schwarz’s corner to throw in the white towel shortly after – but the bigger picture is all about that mega-meeting in 2020.
“I came here to put on a show for Las Vegas and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did,” Fury said. “The key was to enjoy myself – I used the jab. I was slipping with my hands down and sliding, shifted to southpaw and caught him with a straight left.
“It was a good shot, it would have put anybody away. The Mac is back. The lineal champion is back. I put on about 10 or 11 extra pounds from my fight with Wilder and I felt good in there, very strong.”
This brutally-efficient performance was emblematic of the new Fury, a world away from the divisive, controversial character who veered out of control after dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in Germany three-and-a-half years ago. The Lancastrian even visited Schwarz’s dressing room post-fight so he could offer him training camp facilities in the future.
Fury’s mental health is under control, his boxing super-sharp, and – with Arum and ESPN in his corner – he now has a new legion of fans to dazzle across the Atlantic. He had no hesitation in playing to that new audience: he entered the ring on Saturday to the strains of James Brown’s ‘Living in America’, in homage to Rocky IV, and – just in case the point had been missed – he was also clad in the US stars and stripes.
Wilder will re-match the Cuban Luis Ortiz in the autumn, while Fury is now slated to box again on October 5, most likely at Madison Square Garden in New York, although no decision has yet been taken on the opponent. “I’m not concerned about Wilder fighting Ortiz, he’s about 147 years old, and if Ortiz does win, we will cross that bridge as we come to it,” added Fury.
Arum, as you might expect, is in no doubt as to the scale of the Fury-Wilder rematch. “It could be as big as Mayweather-Pacquiao, and could equal or surpass the numbers of Mayweather-Pacquiao,” he said, remembering the bout that grossed over $600m in a record-breaking encounter back in 2015. “They were the little guys, here we have the biggest men in the sport.
“Tyson Fury is a force of nature. He’s an entertainer, truly unique. Now that he’s in shape, he can knock out every heavyweight in the world. I haven’t seen a fighter with that much charisma since Muhammad Ali. I don’t believe there is a heavyweight in the world that can beat Fury. Deontay Wilder is not going five rounds with him.”
It is a measure of the ambition around Fury that his young trainer, Ben Davison, was “not fully happy” with his performance here, and envisages “more improvements to be made” as they ramp up for the showdown with Wilder.
Frank Warren, Fury’s UK promoter, was less concerned. “It was a near-perfect showing from Tyson,” he said. “We want the second Wilder fight because we want justice. That first fight was controversial as we all know, and Tyson was robbed of winning the only heavyweight belt, the WBC title, that he has not had in his possession. He is a great heavyweight, fast reflexes and a tremendous boxing brain, and I truly believe he will go on to cement his legacy. We have two undefeated fighters here, and they must meet again.”
Saturday was another busy night for the sport. On the undercard in Vegas, Isaac Lowe defended his WBC International featherweight belt with a unanimous decision over Duarn Vue, while in the UK, Josh Warrington retained his International Boxing Federation featherweight crown with a split-points victory over fellow Yorkshireman Kid Galahad in his second defence of the title, maintaining his 29-fight unbeaten record.
But there was no doubt who the evening belonged to. As Fury’s name was serenaded by fans spilling out onto the strip, and Americans celebrated the rise of a new – and very different – sports star, the man himself has clearly bought into the Vegas way of life.
Tyson Fury really celebrated his TKO victory with some Aerosmithpic.twitter.com/vrEykE5Afp
On every front, the Gypsy King is conquering a new continent. He could well end up as the invincible force of this modern era of the heavyweight division.