Tyson Fury knocks out Dillian Whyte to retain WBC heavyweight title

Tyson Fury knocks out Dillian Whyte to retain WBC heavyweight title

Tyson Fury’s heavyweight reign reached new heights and possibly a glorious end on Saturday night as the WBC champion shattered the resistance of Dillian Whyte with a devastating uppercut in the sixth round. In front of a raucous and record-breaking crowd at Wembley, Fury was clinical and unfazed, slowly but surely bludgeoning the challenger towards defeat, and the end was as brutal as it was spectacular.

Whyte had been confounded by Fury’s superior size and reach from the opening bell but his sheer force of will had never been in question. He rose to his feet even as his senses betrayed him but was caught by the referee on his way back down. The bout was waved off with just one second of the round remaining.

After serenading the crowd, Fury maintained his promise that his next opponent will be the mundanity of retirement and a peaceful life away from boxing’s bloody spotlight. His words have never possessed the same conviction as his punches and there is hardly a guarantee he won’t renege on that decision when the carrot of an undisputed bout against either Oleksandr Usyk or Anthony Joshua is dangled. It would be a crowning occasion, but if that ferocious uppercut is to be the last glimpse of Fury in the ring, his legacy will be gilded by it rather than diminished.

He first established himself as the face of a new heavyweight era when he dethroned Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and, after the long battle with addiction and depression that preceded his momentous trilogy against Deontay Wilder, he would leave the sport at its pinnacle with his health intact . He is a man of many contradictions but none so great as the unique agility contained within such a colossal frame that left Whyte helpless. He is a flawed champion but a champion of those flaws.

“I promised my wife, Paris, after the Wilder 3 fight that that would be it,” Fury said. “I owed it to the fans [to come back to the UK]. I think this is it, this might be the final curtain for the ‘Gypsy King’, and what a way to go out.”

The fight had been billed as a bitter British feud by all except the two men who stepped into the ring. There had been hostility between their camps in the build-up, a long-running saga over contracts written in bad blood, but the respect Fury and Whyte forged in sparring sessions a decade ago remained intact when they were belatedly reunited earlier this week.

It had been a refreshing antidote to the circus act into which boxing can so often descend, and yet the altogether more reprehensible is rarely beyond reach. Fury’s association with alleged gangster Daniel Kinahan had cast an ugly shadow over this bout, not that a European record crowd of 94,000 at Wembley betrayed any great concern. And as Fury has sidestepped interrogation on the subject, his physical leaner – weighing almost a stone lighter than for his last fight against Wilder – indicated the similarly elusive approach he’d initially adopt against Whyte.

The challenger might have entered the ring as a clear underdog and against a resounding backdrop of boos, but Whyte’s life story remains one of immeasurable defiance. As a teenager, he survived knife and gunshot wounds as he grappled for survival on the streets of Brixton. In adulthood, he has revived his career after what could have otherwise been defining defeats against Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin. He waited over 1,000 days for this rightful shot at the heavyweight title, but his determination could only carry him so far.

If the size of this task had not already been obvious, it became inescapably apparent in the opening round. Fury had oozed confidence during an entrance that was an odyssey in its own right, and although there was a measure of caution as he used his superior reach, Whyte’s issues in bridging the distance were clear from the off. He did manage to briefly confound Fury by starting in a southpaw stance, and both fighters burnt nervous energy in the center of the ring, neither willing to take too great a risk. And on the one occasion Whyte did dare to lunge in, he was promptly countered with a hook to his exposed midriff.

The reluctance to commit slowly began to erode as the fight settled into a rhythm in the second round. Fury switched to a southpaw himself and remained on the back foot, peppering Whyte with a jab from comfortable range. Whyte launched looping right hands in return but they arrived with little disguise and were made to look wild. And before long, the cracks started to emerge in his defence. He was repeatedly caught as he attempted to rush in and the signs of desperation were already starting to bleed into his punches.

The damage started to tell in the third round as straight shots began to repeatedly pierce Whyte’s guard. His eye swelled and Fury capitalized cunningly by switching his punches to the body. It felt as though he was always one step ahead, harnessing his range to ruthless effect, and for as rugged and resilient as Whyte was, those qualities could only take him so far against the smarter and superior boxer.

Sensing the fight was ebbing away from him, Whyte became increasingly scrappy in the fourth round, rushing erratically into range. The pair became tangled in clinches, rabbit-punching and chopping at the back of each other’s heads, and Whyte was cut over his right eye by a clash of heads.

The referee attempted to separate them but to little avail as Fury leant on Whyte, using his size to sap the strength from his opponent’s legs. Whyte’s breathing became heavier, the sharpness drained from his punches, and even though he remained dangerous, Fury had taken a clear ascendancy both in the ring and on the scorecards, and a one-two seemed to momentarily stun Whyte in the fifth round.

The end arrived not long afterwards. Whyte’s output began to wane in the sixth round and, as the bell approached, Fury uncorked a vicious uppercut as the pair met on the inside. Whyte failed to see it coming, his head rocked back sickeningly and his spirit finally surrendered. He summoned all his strength to return to his feet, but his balance refused to return and the referee saved him from the injustice of falling again. It was an emphatic finish and, if it is to be the final punch Fury throws as a professional, it will only feel sweeter in retirement.

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