Tyson Fury landed the best punch of his career to defend the sport’s most treasured prize.
The defending lineal/WBC champion from Manchester, England remained unbeaten and still king of the heavyweight division following a sixth-round knockout of countryman and mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte. A perfectly placed right uppercut put Whyte down and—upon rising from the canvas—unable to steady himself, prompting referee Mark Lyson to stop the contest at 2:59 of round six Saturday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 94,000 at the famed Wembley Stadium in London.
The fight-ending blow drew immediate comparisons to a fellow Kronk Gym-trained heavyweight.
“As a professional, it was an uppercut. I think Lennox Lewis could even be proud of the right uppercut tonight,” the Javan SugarHill Steward-trained Fury said of the show, paying homage to the Hall of Fame former lineal champion who spent the final eight years of his career under late, great Kronk founder Emanuel Steward.
Whyte opened the fight out of the southpaw stance, a bold—if not entirely effective—strategy against the superior pure boxer in Fury. The early going saw both fighters paw with their jabs before Fury was able to find a home for his straight right hand. Whyte took the shots well, though declining to switch to orthodox for the duration of the round.
It was Fury who came out as a southpaw to start round two, with Whyte back to his conventional stance. Whyte improved on his performance in the first three minutes, driving Fury to the ropes. Fury easily dodged an overhand right from Whyte late in the round.
Whyte drove Fury to the ropes in the beginning of the third, though once again unable to capitalize on the sequence. Fury drew a roar from the partisan crowd—despite the fight taking place minutes from Whyte’s hometown of Brixton—after letting loose with a left hook, even though Whyte picked off the shot with his right glove. Whyte was short with his left hook but aware enough to avoid a counter right hand from Fury in the closing seconds.
Referee Mark Lyson emphatically established his authority in what became a foul-filled round four, issuing a firm warning to Fury for roughhousing on the inside after an accidental clash of heads. Whyte was given an equally harsh warning later in the frame, hitting Fury on the break as he was urged by the third man to be more professional during such instances. In between the foul play, Fury managed to connect with a right hand, which Whyte took well.
Both boxers were warned at the start of round five to keep it clean. Fury did his part, using his jab to keep Whyte at bay while attempting to land his right hand to the body. Whyte closed the gap but his moments of success were singular and infrequent. Fury managed to hurt Whyte with a right hand in the final thirty seconds, though never to the threat of a knockdown.
Whyte’s corner felt the wrath of referee Lyson for not clearing the ring before the start of round six. Action resumed with Fury boxing from the outside, working his jab upstairs and to the left side of Whyte’s body. Whyte marched forward in the final minute of the round, partially landing a left hook to the body after missing with the same shot moments before.
Fury didn’t miss with his most meaningful punch.
A right uppercut behind a jab from the unbeaten Brit put Whyte flat on his back just before the bell, though aided by a two-handed push by Fury. Whyte managed to peel himself of the canvas in time to beat the count but could not steady himself, thus producing the stoppage.
Fury statistically dominated Whyte, landing 76-of-243 total punches (31%), compared to 29-of-171 (17%) for the mandatory title challenger. The right uppercut was the last of 47 landed power punches by Fury out of 100 thrown (47%), with Whyte landing just 21-of-99 (21%) as he came up miserably short after screaming for years of a long-sought title shot after making his way to the top of the WBC rankings.
The lopsided defeat puts an end to Whyte’s year-plus long wait as his mandatory title shot. He worked his way back to the number-one position after a revenge-fueled fourth-round knockout of Alexander Povetkin last March 27 in Gibraltar, coming eight months after suffering a fifth-round knockout to the Russian in August 2020.
Saturday’s failed title challenge sends Whyte’s record to 28-3 (19KOs), with all three losses coming by knockout. Whyte was also stopped in the seventh round of a December 2015 fight with countryman Anthony Joshua when both were unbeaten prospects. Eleven wins followed before the loss to Povetkin, with Saturday producing the second defeat in three fights for Whyte who left the ring without being interviewed by the broadcast team.
Fury improves to 32-0-2 (23KOs) as he makes the second successful defense of his lineal/WBC heavyweight champ that he has held since a one-sided seventh-round stoppage of Deontay Wilder in February 2020. Wedged in between was Fury’s off-the-canvas, eleventh-round knockout of Wilder in their epic trilogy bout last October in Las Vegas.
The third fight with Wilder came into play only after an independent arbitration judge ruled that the existing clause in the contract from their second fight remained valid. Saturday’s win over Whyte was born from the WBC ordering a mandatory title fight.
The good news for Fury is that he is now free to face any opponent he so chooses for his next fight.
If there is one.
Any such future in the sport will come without the aid of controversial adviser Daniel Kinahan, the accused Irish crime lord as named by authorities in Ireland before the U.S. and UAE joined in over the course of the past two weeks. The U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on Kinahan and six other identified key figures of the Irish mafia on April 11, casting a cloud over the final pre-fight stretch heading into the all-British heavyweight championship.
Since 2016, Kinahan has lived in Dubai where MTK Global relocated its headquarters despite claims from the latter that the controversial figure was no longer involved in the company since 2017. Fury himself brough Kinahan’s name back to the forefront in a viral video in 2020 claiming that the Irishman played a significant role in finalizing terms for an undisputed championship showdown with Joshua who held the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO belts at the time.
The fight never came to the surface, nor does Joshua (24-2, 22KOs) any longer hold the belts after losing a twelve-round decision to Oleksandr Usyk last September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London. A rematch is being eyed for this summer, though Fury suggests that he won’t stick around long enough to be pursued by the winner—or any other fighter.
“I promised my lovely wife, Paris that after the Wilder three fight that it was it,” insisted Fury, before serenading the crowd with a rendition of ‘American Pie,’ his in-ring, post-fight tradition. “I felt I owed it to every person here at Wembley to go through with this fight. I feel like I have to be a man of my word and say this is it.
“This might be the final curtain for The Gypsy King. And what a way to go out!"
The bout aired live on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View in the U.S. and BT Sport Box Office in the U.K.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox