Britain’s Tyson Fury produced a ruthless display to stop previously undefeated heavyweight Tom Schwarz in the second round in Las Vegas.
Fury, wearing shorts with the American stars and stripes, entered the ring to James Brown’s Living in America.
Fury, 30, backed Schwarz to the ropes in the second, driving a right hand home to drop the German to the floor.
Seconds later, with Schwarz bloodied and under attack, his corner threw in the towel as the bout was waved off.
“I got a big man out of there by switching it up. He caught me with a couple but you can’t go swimming and not get wet,” said Fury, who now has 28 wins and a draw on his record.
“I came here to have fun and enjoy myself. I don’t take it too seriously. I thought I put on a good show and the fans got what they paid for.”
Fury’s big American show
This was Fury’s first outing since his controversial draw with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles in December.
There will be many who feel 25-year-old Schwarz was over-matched, with British heavyweight Dillian Whyte quick to label the German a “chump” and the fight “a joke”.
But this was billed as a showcase bout for Fury in what was his first contest of a lucrative deal with ESPN. The marketing of the former world heavyweight champion was there for all to see as he took off a black robe during his MGM Grand ring walk to reveal the US stars and stripes on a second gown.
This was all about enhancing his profile to the American market and the five minutes and 54 seconds of boxing that followed did no harm to the undefeated Briton’s future earning power or damage his hopes of a rematch with Wilder.
In round one he pinged a sharp jab through the underdog’s defence and threw smart hooks around the guard, with Schwarz walking forward gamely but landing little against the evasive 6ft 9in Fury frame.
And in the second, Fury showed his abundant ring craft when he willingly retreated to a corner before landing a left hook while swivelling out of the tight space to open up an attack.
It was the beginning of the end as seconds later he thrust a right hand into Schwarz’s face, forcing a knockdown which was quickly followed by the conclusion as Schwarz stood a static target with shots raining in on him.
Fury was handed the microphone and – just as he did after ripping the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles from Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 – opted to sing Aerosmith hit I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.
“Tonight was great, I will enjoy it,” he added. “We will get deals done, get another fight in and then we fight Wilder next year.”
No slip-ups but what’s next?
Fury’s win came two weeks after fellow Briton Anthony Joshua lost the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in a shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.
Despite a late flurry of money being placed on Schwarz, who was previously unbeaten in 24 bouts, the German never looked like he could spring a similar surprise.
Instead, ringside celebrities such as singer Robbie Williams, chef Gordon Ramsey and former baseball star Alex Rodriguez witnessed a dismantling by Fury.
It has been a whirlwind 12 months since he returned to the sport after battles with drugs, alcohol and depression which saw him give up his WBA and WBO titles, having already been stripped of the IBF belt because of failing to fight the mandatory challenger.
It appears a rematch with WBC champion Wilder is his main focus but another fight will come first, either on 21 September or 5 October, with his US promoter Bob Arum stating this week that New York’s Madison Square Garden was provisionally booked.
A meeting with Wilder should therefore happen early in 2020.
“Wilder’s team want to make it happen,” said Fury’s promoter Frank Warren. “Everybody wants to make it happen and it will happen.”
If Fury and Wilder do meet again it will likely follow Joshua’s proposed rematch with Ruiz, meaning the heavyweight landscape may well have changed once more.
After his win Fury said his Las Vegas bout felt like “my coming out party”.
He now appears to have US backing, momentum and the necessary focus to ensure he is in the mix for what could be a captivating period in the division.
Reaction – ‘This is just the beginning’
Former world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker on BBC Radio 5 Live: “What a statement. I know Schwarz is not of the same class of Fury’s last opponents but he was game and did his best.
“Fury has made a big impact in the UK but from this fight he is also going to make a huge impact in the United States. A lot of people are drawn to him because he is so charismatic.
“He is very good at speaking and brings a lot more to fight night than just boxing. This is just the beginning.”
BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Mike Costello: “That was a brilliant statement from Tyson Fury. He was so aggressive, pinpoint with his punches and fighting on the front foot. It’s another win and he remains on course to win another version of the world heavyweight title.”
British heavyweight Dillian Whyte: “Can’t believe I stayed to watch that joke of a fight. Tyson Fury should be ashamed of himself running away from me and fighting these chumps. My mother would have knocked out Tom the bum in a round.”