It was a perfect one-punch finish from Tyson Fury on a night of blood and emotion at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The punch was sweet, a right uppercut, crafted from many years of brawling, and it slipped through the last of the tired guard to crumple Dillian Whyte in a distressed heap. Whyte struggled up, beat the count, his legs buckled, he fell on the referee and it was stopped.
The official time was two minutes and 59 seconds of the sixth round, but numbers and statistics seldom tell the true story in the boxing game. Whyte had struggled, tried, missed and was slowing down when the final punch finished the fading hopes of a dream destroyed.
As Whyte hauled his body up from the canvas, one arm, leg and fist at a time, like a toppled drunk on a trampoline, Fury watched with concern. Make no mistake, whyte wanted to fight, he wanted to continue swinging at the cold air in defiance and belief. He had no chance as he stumbled, his desires had no control over the damage the punch had caused. Fury was signaling for the referee, Mark Lyson, to be merciful, and he was.
The fight finished in pandemonium on both sides of the ropes. Some 94,000 had not come for a boxing masterclass – they had come for the execution they had been promised. Fury delivered the perfect end to a perfect fight on a perfect night. And then they danced as he took my microphone to sing his anthem, “American Pie”.
After Lyson wrapped his arms round Whyte, the ring filled with the celebrating and the concerned. There was talk of Fury of walking away from the sport, talk of that endless journey away from the brutal ring and a life less dangerous. “I gave my wife my word,” he said. His wife, Paris, gave a rueful shrug and smile as his words forced a pantomime boo from his devoted flock. They clearly don’t believe him, she looked doubtful and by midnight there was talk of hybrid fights with UFC champions, unification fights and one last goodbye somewhere in a land of long parties. He’s not retired yet, don’t panic. The sacks of gold are stashed for a rainy day when the offers will take place.
Also at about midnight, Whyte sat in desolation in his dressing room, his jaw swollen, his words heavy with regret and pain. He offered no excuses, just praise and hurtful resignation. “It was a good learning experience,” he said, his voice packed with emotion, his words just above an intimate whisper. It was one of the saddest rooms I have visited after a fight. Whyte was totally crushed by the loss and in wonder at how easily Fury had dismantled his resistance and hopes.
It hadn’t been a pretty fight to watch and that was the grand plan. It was a simple plan in the end by Tyson: hit, move, hold, feint and repeat. Whyte never closed the gap in the ring or came close to closing the distance between his dreams and Fury’s ability. Whyte missed with lunges, and was twisted and turned as Fury popped out jabs and dropped in long, long rights to body and head. There was no urgency in Fury’s work and there was a growing frustration in Whyte’s punches – two big heavyweights heading in different directions in a tiny ring is only ever good for one man. Fury had promised his team a “masterclass” in the seconds before he left his dressing room, and he delivered. It was not a pleasant masterclass and it never had to be; Whyte was chasing the giant shadow of the 6ft 9in master for most of the fight.
Fury, now unbeaten in 33 fights, had been respectful all week, shaking hands with Whyte, trading caps, smiling, singing and hugging his old friend. The niceties continued in the ring for about two rounds before elbows, shoulders and heads were converted by the pair into legitimate tools of their savage trade. Whyte was cut around his right eye, Fury livid at the wreckless head work. They were both guilty. The referee warned, cautioned and read the riot act a few times; the illegal stuff continued, the jabs continued, Whyte’s slow decline continued and then it was over.
Whyte looked stiff from the start and the speed was missing. His punches fell short as he tried looping his shots above, below and behind Fury’s arms and fists. He had some success, but never much. It sounds harsh, but it is true.
Fury, who controlled just about every second of the ugly fight, is the sport’s untouchable master at the moment, a man for all generations. Whyte must have known in his giant heart that it was over long before he was sent to dreamland. Whyte was out when he went down – his struggle to his feet is a lasting testament to his bravery and desire. He had no right to stir, let alone beat the count.
Fury did deliver a masterclass in the ring. However, the art so often in this brutal, heartbreaking and wondrous business is dancing as smartly on the so-called safe side of the ropes. Right now, he is finished with the sport. That’s right now. It will change and there will be more nights of brilliance and emotion and shocking ends.
They split $ 41m (£ 32m), 94,000 were there and Whyte’s collapse was the loudest roar. It’s savage, this boxing business, but impossible to ignore.