It would be cruel to suggest 76 years young singer Don McLean moved his feet quicker in his pre-fight rendition of American Pie than London bruiser Dillian Whyte did before being struck by a Tyson Fury right uppercut, but it wouldn’t be far from the truth. Deconstructing Whyte’s reputation based on the ease with which Fury deposited the floundering challenger on the canvas in front of a baying Wembley crowd, high on freedom and other confections, will be a popular undertaking but unjust too. Observers are encouraged to refrain.
The division today isn’t 1970s deep. It never was before Ali, Foreman and their many contemporaries and it likely never will be again, and as such the perennial comparison is redundant. Within his generation, Whyte possessed a credible record and a consensus place in the top half a dozen big men.
That Whyte failed to land a punch of note in six rounds speaks to Fury’s dominance of that same generation more than the limitations of the self-made ‘Body Snatcher’. But defeat brings cynicism. Dominance, as Fury’s predecessor, Wladimir Klitschko found, invariably does too.
Retirement beckons if Fury chooses it. A slim but meaningful record, millions acquired and popularity he could only dream of when he returned from Germany, having bewitched Wladimir Klitschko, and allowed his euphoria to give way to despair and darkness. Fury’s resurrection is the story most sold. In his life and in climbing from the canvas in three fights with Wilder to establish his place as the King of the division.
There can be no argument as to his position. Talk of claiming the outstanding belt from the winner of Oleksander Usyk and Anthony Joshua, if circumstances and geopolitics don’t intervene, is a necessary next fight for Fury, from a competitive challenge perspective, but neither man is required to confirm that the Gypsy King is, THE, in capital letters, Champion.
Dillian Whyte will likely continue. Fighters usually fail to note the wisdom of stopping too early rather than too late. He will certainly never warrant the purse he did here. $8m, or thereabouts, is forever money. But, like gamblers, there is always another bet, another roll of the dice. Whyte knows little else but boxing and pride, that most troubling of emotions, will insist his last action as a prize fighter will not be falling toward the rope with the referee trying to keep him vertical.
Sadly for him, whatever else he does, being knocked out by uppercuts is how he will be remembered. As the broadcasters were eager to explain, there were 94,000 witness on Saturday.
For the champion, it was an outcome that focuses minds on his ability, and away from his previous relationship with Daniel Kinahan, whilst demonstrating a market appetite that makes the idea of the retirement Fury announced post fight, aged 33 and on top of the world, difficult to believe.