Tyson Fury eased to victory on the occasion of his first fight in Las Vegas as he furthered his reputation as the world’s finest heavyweight by stopping Germany’s Tom Schwarz in the second round.
Fulfilling a lifelong ambition of finally fighting in the Sin City, at the revered MGM Grand, he showed a destructive edge he has rarely previously demonstrated to justify the significant interest he has generated in the US since his fight with Deontay Wilder.
Fury had perhaps re-established himself as the world’s leading heavyweight with December’s thrilling draw against the American, when his performance deserved victory, and his reputation grew to such an extent he signed a lucrative contract to fight on ESPN out of the US against an unremarkable opponent.
Concerns persisted that the rounded abilities he traditionally favours over power and strength meant he would win without the sense of drama generated against Wilder and instead effortlessly out-jab Schwarz in the same way he once did Dereck Chisora, but he instead fought to make a statement and succeeded in doing exactly that.
Wearing the US stars and stripes to and in the ring in an obvious attempt to further his growing popularity among Americans, he made a typically fast start to highlight the extent of the challenge the 25-year-old Schwarz faced.
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Tyson Fury turned up early and conducted the final press conference for his fight with Tom Schwarz as he continued to build on his growing popularity in the United States.
The heavyweight even briefly sang and, without a hint of attempting to provoke his opponent at what for boxing represented an unusually tension-free affair, complimented Germany’s Schwarz on his “good looks”.
Fury proved even more engaging than in the build-up to December’s dramatic draw with Deontay Wilder, since when he has signed a lucrative contract with promoters Top Rank to fight out of the US and made regular appearances on American television to discuss his struggles with suicide and mental health.
Before his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 he attended a press conference dressed as Batman and similarly involved those present while insulting his opponent, but the 30-year-old has matured and resisted any urges he may have felt to do the same.
Fury, who has been criticised for making homophobic and sexist remarks in the past, also diplomatically attempted to stop influential Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, 87, from complimenting female fighter Mikaela Mayer on her appearance.
Arum himself has been at pains to make comparisons between Fury’s charisma and that of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, who he once promoted, and alongside Schwarz and co-promoter Frank Warren was summoned to the top-table early when Fury decided it was time to start.
It is only since the build-up to fighting Wilder that Fury’s personal struggles have been documented more widely in the US, and when asked to revisit them ahead of Saturday’s fight at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, he responded: “Eighteen months ago I was in a very, very dark place.
“If you had seen me at that time I was very heavy and very unwell. I want to inspire people to change their lives and get well.
“I’m living my dream and I don’t know many people who can say the same. I’m seeing my picture on all the screens and billboards, this is what I was born to do.
“The crowd have warmed to me and been very welcoming. I’m surprised, people who don’t speak English, who don’t even watch sports are asking for photos and wanting to talk. It’s quite humbling.”
Fury had by then also joked about spending eight weeks training with Shaolin monks, having turned on and handed out microphones to those he felt should also be at the top-table.
Fury also stopped someone present from beginning an anti-German song when he demanded someone sing.
“The two guys Tyson reminds me of are Muhammad Ali and George Foreman,” explained Arum.
“They were people person’s first. They’d talk directly to the people, over the head of the writers, right to the people.
“Tyson’s going to lead this sport into a new dimension, just the way Ali did in his time, and then later George.”
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Anthony Joshua has targeted an immediate rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr after losing his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles in a shock defeat at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
On the occasion of his US debut and despite being the significant favourite against an opponent who had been given little more than a month’s notice and had lost his only previous world title fight, Joshua suffered four knockdowns in what became a one-sided upset.
He was eventually rescued in the seventh round by referee Mike Griffin when, after returning to his feet for the fourth time – the two knockdowns in the seventh followed two similarly hurtful ones in the third, which came after Ruiz Jr’s only knockdown – he was no longer able to defend himself.
The 29-year-old had established himself as the world’s leading heavyweight by so memorably retiring Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, but so unexpected a defeat has damaged his reputation, contributing to his desire for a rematch in the winter.
“Look out for the end of the year, and what’s next,” said Joshua, like Ruiz Jr aged 29.
“It’s an upset, it’s unexpected. I was the favourite. One shot hit me on the top of the dome and rattled me a bit. I tried to stay in there a few more rounds but the better man won.
“I don’t underestimate anyone. He’s a decent puncher, a decent fighter. He was the better man.
“I’ll tidy up, brush off the cobwebs and go again. But it’s a minor setback.
“Trust me, where I was at in life, I’ve dealt with more than this, with some real big losses, and bounced back.
“If I was to look at my setbacks back then then I would have been finished. I didn’t. I kept my head strong, fought like a champion, and bounced back.
“I didn’t even ask about a rematch clause because I was so confident I was going to win. If it’s there, we’ll go again and I’ll get the titles back. I’m going to beat him up.
“I’m not dwelling on it. You just correct it, you adjust, you sit down, you focus and you go again.”
Joshua also revealed that he had also already spoken to his mother Yeta Odusanya, and his father Robert, who had given him some advice.
“My dad’s upset, which is a natural reaction; my mum’s cool, she doesn’t come to the boxing and separates it,” he said.
“Everyone’s in good spirits; losing isn’t a good night but it’s something we can learn from.
“My dad said ‘Tighten up and get smart; when things are going good nothing’s going wrong, then something bad happens, you realise’.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, who had previously secured the now-suspended Jarrell Miller as his opponent, also revealed that the UK is the likeliest venue for the rematch that can be expected to follow.
“We didn’t know what was coming next, in November, December, now we do,” he said. “But there’s a lot of pressure on that fight; the rematch is huge.
“For me, it should be the UK, but we’ll sit down as a team and look at everything.
“I know it didn’t go our way but we said we wanted to create a night that people would remember for a long time; unfortunately they’ll remember it for a shock defeat and an incredible night of boxing.
“But that’s okay; revenge will be sweet and I believe he’ll get it.”