Half an hour after he dispatched Dillian Whyte with a thunderous right uppercut to retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight title, Tyson Fury sat down shirtless at the post-fight news conference and began discussing his boxing career in the past tense.
Fury, who had just won by a sixth-round knockout in front of 94,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium in London, rhymed off the titles he had won — regional and world championships from every major sanctioning organization. His spectacular victory on Saturday improved his professional record to 32-0-1, cementing Fury’s status as the world’s best heavyweight and one of the sport’s greats.
Having achieved so much with that one-punch knockout, Fury, 33, reasoned that he would never need to fight again.
An exception: “I will not rule out exhibitions,” Fury said, and then hinted that he might join other retired champions on pro boxing’s informal senior circuit. “Get some of that Floyd Mayweather money.”
Fury’s emphatic win over Whyte came less than two weeks after the U.S. Treasury Department announced it would crack down against the Kinahan crime family, an Irish cartel that includes Daniel Kinahan, a boxing power broker who has advised Fury. While the boxing company MTK Global claimed to have split from the Kinahan family in 2017, Bob Arum, Fury’s promoter based in the United States, told reporters last week that Kinahan still ran the company and that he had grossed $8 million from Fury’s four most recent bouts.
“The relationship broke down because he was interfering in everything,” Arum told The Irish Mirror. “He was becoming greedier and greedier. And he became more of a burden than a help.”
As quickly as Arum distanced himself from Kinahan, Fury proved even more adept at keeping Whyte, a 34-year-old contender who lives in London, at the end of his 85-inch reach.
Whyte spent the opening rounds moving forward, intent on turning a boxing competition into a slugging match. He landed heavy body shots and, in Round 4, nearly lured Fury into a sloppy brawl. The two fighters traded fouls — Fury wrestled and Whyte threw an elbow strike — before the bout settled back into a rhythm that suited Fury’s skills and physical gifts.
At 6-foot-9 and nearly 265 pounds, Fury is the biggest heavyweight champion in history. He spent much of his career as a tactical boxer. Fury’s upper-body movement made him an elusive target, and his feints could disrupt an opponent’s timing while he used his long jab as both offense and defense.
But when Javan Hill, who goes by Sugar and who’s head of the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit, took over as trainer in 2019, he began teasing out Fury’s latent punching power, melding the fighter’s acumen with aggressiveness. In their three fights together, Fury has recorded three spectacular knockouts.
“We put a lot of time in over the last few years,” Fury said at the post-fight news conference. “Training, training, training with his style.”
On Saturday, Fury dismantled Whyte with craft, landing jabs and straight right hands to the face and mixing in roundhouse rights to Whyte’s rib cage. Or, when Whyte closed the distance, Fury would throw a left hook, pivot to angle himself and then re-establish his preferred range.
The power came in Round 6, when Fury threw a left jab, prompting Whyte to lurch forward. He walked directly into the uppercut that landed on the left side of his chin. A light shove from Fury sent Whyte toppling backward. Otherwise the challenger would have fallen straight down.
Whyte clambered to his feet, but the referee, Mark Lyson, halted the fight with one second left in the round, sealing a decisive win for Fury.
“He would be a great heavyweight in any generation,” said Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter based in Britain, adding, “Probably the best fighter I’ve ever been involved with.”
The setup and execution of the knockout punch even impressed other world-class fighters.
“I never seen nothing like Tyson Fury before,” Shakur Stevenson, the World Boxing Organization super featherweight champion, wrote on Twitter. “He is amazing.”
Between Fury’s drawing power and the prospect of a single, undisputed champion, demand will remain high for another bout, particularly against the winner of a proposed rematch between the unified champion Oleksandr Usyk and the former champion Anthony Joshua.
Fury said he told his wife, Paris, that he would retire last October, after his bruising third bout with Deontay Wilder. But the idea of one final fight in Britain, where he last competed in 2018, lured him back to the ring. So did the reality of a $29.5 million guarantee for fighting Whyte.
Fury earned a $4.1 million bonus for winning what he hinted was his last fight.
“I have to be a man of me word,” he said during an in-ring interview. “This might be the final curtain for the Gypsy King.”
The word “might” shouldered a heavy load in Fury’s post-fight pronouncement.
Minutes later he summoned Francis Ngannou, the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion, to his side. Ngannou has grumbled publicly about pay and has spoken openly about competing as a boxer. Whyte’s $7.4 million guarantee was likely large enough to capture the U.F.C. champion’s attention.
“This is going to be a very special fight, like never before seen in the history of our sport,” Fury said, with an arm draped around Ngannou’s massive shoulders, adding, “It’s going to be an explosive fight when it happens.”
Fury was still sweaty as he and Ngannou hyped their hypothetical bout, because, as fighters often remind us, retirement doesn’t always mean staying retired.