Tyson Fury retained his WBC and Lineal heavyweight titles in spectacular fashion before admitting that his victory over Dillian Whyte may be the last of his career.
If Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) is truly intending to hang up the gloves, then he finished his career in style, halting Dillian Whyte in the sixth round of their contest at Wembley stadium, London, in front of a record-breaking crowd of 94,000.
Pre-fight proclamations should always be taken with a pinch of salt, and that was certainly the case here. Both men had promised a barnstormer, but instead ‘The Gypsy King’ delivered a measured performance which saw him in control throughout.
Fury is known for his unpredictability in the ring, yet it was Whyte that provided the first surprise of the night as he fought the entirety of the opening round in the southpaw stance. A tactic clearly designed to catch the champion off guard had the desired effect, as Fury evidently had not prepared for that eventuality. Despite the advantage gained by element of surprise, Whyte did not look comfortable as a portsider, failing to land anything of note. Fury was also limited in his success during the frame as both men started cautiously.
The second round was a mirror image of the first, with Fury fighting southpaw, for the first minute at least, and Whyte returning to his favoured orthodox stance. ‘The Bodysnatcher’ looked more at ease in his natural stance but failed to close the distance effectively. Fury utilised his seven-inch reach advantage and faster feet well, causing Whyte to miss wildly with a looping right hand.
The third saw both men targeting the body, with Fury having the greater success. As in the previous stanza, Whyte attempted to wing the occasional looping right hand over the top, but ‘The Gypsy King’ was able evade them with ease. Whyte lacked the head movement and foot speed to close the distance on a regular basis as Fury looked in control. In the corner, Whyte’s trainer, Xavier Miller, implored his charge to: “Hit his fucking body,” rather than looking for the homerun shot.
Tempers flared early in the fourth. A clash of heads in the first 30 seconds resulted in a cut over the right eye of Whyte. A clinch followed which seen the challenger thrust his forearm into the face of Fury. As referee, Mark Lyson attempted to regain control of the contest by ordering both men to break, the fighters ignored his instructions and when they finally adhered, Whyte landed a punch as they were separating.
Lyson, who was refereeing a world heavyweight title fight for the first time, then read both men the riot act declaring: ‘You are professional boxers, act professionally.” As the action restarted, Fury was incensed, believing himself to be the aggrieved party. The round was messier than those that preceded it. Another clinch, t his time in the Fury corner, resulted in further admonishment from Lyson. On this occasion, Whyte struck the champion around the back of the head and Fury refused to release the hold he had on his foe.
The following round saw Fury increase his work rate, again with his primary focus being the body of his opponent. While the champion was not dominating the frames, he appeared to be at ease, fighting to his own tempo. Fury’s physical dimensions allied with speed which belies his enormous frame have posed a conundrum that 28 opponents have failed to solve in his previous 32 fights.
With each passing round, it became cleared that Whyte was not going to be the one to decode the enigma. Richie Woodhall on commentary succinctly summed up the challenger’s woes: “I just think Whyte’s approach is too slow.”
In the sixth round, Whyte managed to pin Fury against the ropes and in corners on two occasions but seemed reluctant to let his hands go and as such, was unable to capitalise. Whyte needed to find something to change the pattern of the contest, but instead, it was Fury that did so. After measuring his foe with the jab, Fury unleashed a perfect right uppercut which sent Whyte to the canvas. The challenger rose but stumbled towards the ropes when asked to step forward, obliging the referee to the halt the contest.
It is a familiar fate for Whyte, as his two previous defeats were as a result of uppercuts.
Afterwards, the triumphant Fury was full of praise for the challenger: “Listen, Dillian Whyte is a warrior and I believe Dillian will be a world champion, but tonight, he met a great in the sport. I am one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Unfortunately for Dillian Whyte, he had to face me here tonight. There’s no disgrace, he’s a tough, game man, he’s as strong as a bull and he’s got the heart of a lion, but you know, you are not messing with a mediocre heavyweight, you are messing with the best man on the planet, and you saw that tonight.”
In the lead up to the contest, Fury had said that this would be his last fight. When pressed on the matter, Fury confirmed that this may the end of his career.
“I promised my lovely wife, Paris, that after the Wilder three fight, that would be it, and I meant it. I 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 owed it to the fans. I owed it to every person in the United Kingdom. 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.”
If this is the final fight of Fury’s career, then it is a fitting final chapter. At times, Fury has not been the most popular fighter in Britain, but tonight, he set the record for the highest attendance at a boxing match in Europe and produced the best punch of his career. It is an occasion that will be difficult to surpass.
Of course, talk of retirement is commonplace in boxing, however actually hanging up the gloves is easier said than done. If Fury decides to continue, then a fight with the winner of the rematch between to Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua is a must. Then Fury can, without question, call himself: “The best man on the planet,” at heavyweight.