A brutal uppercut from Tyson Fury underlined his status as the world’s No 1 heavyweight and turned Dillian Whyte’s title ambitions to dust as he triumphed in glorious style in front of more than 90,000 fans under the Wembley arch.
The “Gypsy King” retained his World Boxing Council crown a minute into the sixth round in an atmosphere celebrating his homecoming after four years fighting abroad, as he made it 33 fights unbeaten in an utterly dominant performance.
The punch that ended it was a right uppercut – off the jab – that glanced off Whyte’s chin, scrambling the challenger’s senses. Whyte regained his feet but the referee Mark Lyson called it off with the battler from Brixton unable to continue.
It was the right call and thoughts immediately turned to Fury’s future, with the 33-year-old again suggesting this could have been his last fight.
“I promised my lovely wife Paris that after the [Deontay] Wilder third fight that would be it, and I meant it,” he said in the ring. “We had a war, it was a great trilogy and I meant it. But I got offered to fight at Wembley at home and I believed I deserved, I owed it to the fans and every person in the United Kingdom to come here and fight at Wembley.
“Now it’s all done I have to be a man of my word and I think this is it, this might be the final curtain for the Gypsy King. And what a way to go out – a big thank you to the United Kingdom!”
If this was to be the end then it was a hell of a punch to go out on, but this was a fight that demonstrated that Fury has that most important of boxing qualities – fighting IQ – in spades, as he was in a class of his own against his challenger.
A huge roar had gone around the stadium as Fury’s arrival was displayed on the big screen, two and a half hours before his ring walk, and when Fury did soak it all up on the way to the battleground in the centre of the stadium, he was accompanied by the music of Don McLean’s American Pie and the theatre of a tunnel of knights of St George. Whyte, as ever, came in to AC/DC’s Back In Black.
Into the ring, and into the battle they went. Whyte needed to get into the fight with alacrity, and he started fast and furious. Silent in the build-up until the past four days, the bruising heavyweight was intent on doing his talking in the ring.
Surprisingly, he took the southpaw stance in the opening round to take away Fury’s jab, but it was the champion who took the round with a few jabs landed and two right hands as they danced.
Whyte was back to orthodox in the second, and Fury turned southpaw for the first exchanges, landing a good left to put Whyte off balance.
The real battle began in the third, as Whyte managed to get closer, landing to the body, and attempting to get his hooks away, as Fury worked off the jab.
In the fourth, Fury remonstrated with Whyte after the heads clashed, the referee Lyson warning Whyte. It was Whyte’s right eye that was cut and beginning to swell, but as the two came together, Whyte landed his famed left hook for the first time. The referee warned Fury about using his head. It was a disjointed, bad-tempered round.
Out they came for the fifth stanza, trading body shots, as Fury commanded the range again with his jab. They goaded each other, Whyte’s arcing left hook flying through the air and throwing the Brixton man off balance. That was a particularly strong round for Fury, boxing in a tight circle.
Round six, however, truly showed why Fury is the world No 1, smothering Whyte’s work with his size and movement, beating the challenger to the punch, and then tying Whyte up until a huge right uppercut knocked him onto his back. Game over. Job done.
Fury, weighing 350lb five years ago, having spent two years feeling depressed and suicidal, has conquered so many things in his life already. Not least his inner demons. But what a journey to the top again.
What he does next is the subject of much conjecture, but in two reigns as heavyweight world champion he has never been beaten. On a raucous night at Wembley Stadium in front of 94,000 spectators – and after having waited over three years for his title shot – the 34-year-old Whyte, born in Jamaica, but now firmly “The Body Snatcher” from Brixton, gave his all in what might have been a legacy-making fight for him.
It was not to be on a night when few men would have been able to live with Fury.
The fight, for which Fury earned £25 million, and Whyte £6 million, will rank as one of the big occasions in boxing, and a night on which, once again, Fury was proclaimed king of the division. On a stirring occasion, Whyte gave his all, but Fury was just too good.
Having stated that this may be his last fight, and having dwarfed the heavyweight division in this era – the champion may never be seen in a ring again.
Yet there is the suspicion that Fury may be tempted back again for an undisputed heavyweight title challenge against the winner of Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua for the undisputed crown -with the Ukrainian set to defend the IBF, WBA and WBO world title belts in a rematch after Usyk won by points over Joshua in London last September.
Although Fury won those three belts in 2015 in Germany against Wladimir Klitschko, a battle with the winner of Usyk versus Joshua would rubber-stamp the boxer’s dominance of the era, though Fury has told Telegraph Sport that he had promised his family and his wife Paris – with whom he has six children – that with career earnings of an estimated £120 million “there is nothing left to prove and that money means nothing”.
“You can’t go on for too long in this game,” the Gypsy King had said to me. “Because father time catches up with you at some point.
“Every dog has his day, whether you’re the greatest or not. Age catches up very quickly so you’ve got to move over for the younger guys. Yet the sport has a habit of drawing its players back for one more fight.”
Now we wait to see whether this was Fury’s last ever punch. If it was then it was one to remember.