By Alexey Sukachev
Kings Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland - British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (16-0, 11 KOs) stopped late replacement Nicolai “Stone Man” Firtha (20-9-1, 8 KOs) in five rounds. Time was 2:19 of the fifth stanza, when the fight was stopped by referee John Keane, although Firtha was still up on his legs. A year ago reigning WBA champion and then-injured Alexander Povetkin needed all ten scheduled rounds to defeat Firtha on points.
WBC #13 and WBA #15 Fury was in command of the action from the beginning. He applied a horrificly strong and potent jab to keep the American at bay, while landing some haymakers and easily moving out of the fire range after his powerful attacks. In the midst of the opening stanza, Fury landed a huge left uppercut but Firtha was able to maintain his upright position. His nose was severely bleeding after the shot. In the second, Fury didn't allow Firtha to land any punches, who was doing his best just to hear the next bell. He was successful indeed, which prompted him into a life-and-death third round.
In the third round, Fury, 23, started connecting with the jab to Firtha's bloody face. However, in the midst of the round the American caught Fury with a crushing overhand right which had the Brit badly staggered and almost out of his feet. Firtha, 32, sensing the smell of blood, leashed in - but Fury applied a big assortment of various dirty tactics and survived the onslaught despite being virtually punished around the ring.
Tyson came back in command mode in the fourth, and the fight was all his from that point on. He landed a couple of bombs to make Firtha's legs shaky once again and continued to pound his opponent until several seconds before the end of the round, when Firtha went down. The bell coincided with the end of the count, saving the American but not for much longer.
In the fifth, Fury got gradually more aggressive and pounded Firtha (his right hook doing much of the damage) until John Keane has wisely stopped the beating. Fury won for the third time this year in a stay-busy fight but there are still some questions, both regarding his chin and his defense.