LAS VEGAS — Tyson Fury, the larger-than-life lineal heavyweight world champion, fancies himself as a showman, and he came to the Las Vegas Strip for the first time to put on a show. He did just that on Saturday night.
Fury easily destroyed the unknown Tom Schwarz in the second round to retain the lineal title for the fourth time before an announced crowd of 9,012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
In the main event of the heavily publicized ESPN+ card, Fury came to the ring dressed in red, white and blue to the James Brown song “Living in America” from “Rocky IV,” and he dazzled as expected against a heavy underdog.
“The key was to enjoy myself,” Fury said. “I used the jab. I was slipping [punches] with my hands down and sliding and shifted to southpaw, and I caught him with a straight left. It was a good shot. It would have put anybody away.”
Fury set a quick pace in the opening round as he fired jabs, combinations and even a couple of body shots against a very inactive Schwarz, who was trying to figure out how to get inside against the much bigger man and had no success.
The 6-foot-9, 263-pound Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs), 30, of England, came in a bit heavier than his last fight in December but still was light on his feet for being such a big man.
“I put on an extra [seven] pounds. I really feel it,” Fury said. “This time I had a few malts out of the ring. But I came here to put on a show for Las Vegas and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.”
Fury turned to a southpaw stance in the second round and landed an uppercut that got Schwarz’s attention. And then Fury began to unload on Schwarz.
“The Gypsy King” landed a left hand that clearly hurt him and gave the 6-5, 245½-pound Schwarz (24-1, 16 KOs), 24, of Germany, a bloody nose. Moments later, Fury, who had been bouncing up and down on his toes and fighting in a rhythm, landed a powerful left hand to the head and Schwarz melted to the canvas on his knees. He beat the count, but the fight was basically over.
Fury was all over him. He cornered him and was unloading punches when Schwarz’s corner threw a white towel into the ring to signal resignation. Referee Kenny Bayless, however, was facing the fighters and did not see the towel, but he stepped in to stop the battering anyway, calling a halt to the action at 2 minutes, 54 seconds and sending the largely British crowd into a celebration.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Fury landed 45 of 158 shots (29 percent), and Schwarz landed 6 of 30 (20 percent).
“That was amazing. Tyson Fury is a force of nature,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who was promoting his first Fury bout. “This was one of the great shows I’ve ever seen and not just because of the boxing. He’s an entertainer. He is truly unique. Now that he’s in shape, he can knock out every heavyweight in the world. Deontay Wilder is not going five rounds with him. We will have another fight, then we will fight Wilder.”
Then Arum invoked the name of a fighter he promoted for many years.
“I haven’t seen a fighter with that much charisma since Muhammad Ali,” Arum said.
It has been an impressive comeback for Fury, who after winning three belts and the lineal title from Wladimir Klitschko in a huge upset in 2015 nearly lost his career and life.
Fury was stripped of the belts and was out of the ring for 31 months dealing with drug and alcohol issues, massive weight gain and mental health problems that had him on the verge of suicide.
But he returned last June and took on two lesser opponents on the comeback trail, stopping Sefer Seferi in the fourth round and winning a shutout 10-round decision over Francesco Pianeta before fighting to a controversial draw with Deontay Wilder in December.
Teddy Atlas breaks down the amazing revival of Tyson Fury’s career as well as how he is arguably the greatest heavyweight boxer in the sport right now.
Fury, who as usual began to sing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” to his wife after Saturday’s fight, is expected to be back in the ring again in either Sept. 21 or Oct. 5, possibly in New York, as he steamrolls toward a rematch with world titleholder Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs).
After another tuneup fight, Fury said, “Next year we are going to hold down Deontay Wilder to give me that green belt,” referring to Wilder’s WBC title.
Fury was fighting for the first time since his exciting draw with Wilder in December in Los Angeles. That night, Fury survived two knockdowns, including a very hard one in the 12th round, but he had outboxed Wilder for long stretches and emerged as the fighter most thought deserved the victory.
Fury and Wilder each vociferously called for an immediate rematch, and it was nearly finalized when Fury and promoter Frank Warren decided to go in a different direction, at least for the time being. Fury instead signed a megadeal with Top Rank to co-promote him and bring his fights to ESPN platforms, which kicked off with the heavily publicized fight with Schwarz on ESPN+.
A deal for a pay-per-view rematch between Fury and Wilder has already been made for the first quarter of 2020, assuming Fury wins his fall fight and Wilder retains his title against Luis “King Kong” Ortiz this fall in a rematch of Wilder’s dramatic 10th-round knockout of Ortiz in a candidate for 2018 fight of the year. The deal for the rematch marks a rare deal for a marquee fight between rivals Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions.
“There are two networks, and it’s 50-50. It’s easy to do,” Arum said of the deal that will mean a joint pay-per-view between ESPN and one of PBC’s network partners, either Fox or Showtime. “You’ve got my word it’s going to happen. First quarter of next year. Right here [in Las Vegas].”
Schwarz, who was fighting in the United States for the first time and facing a top opponent also for the first time, was a heavy underdog looking to pull an enormous upset that would have been even bigger than the one Andy Ruiz Jr. pulled on June 1 in New York when he scored four knockdowns and shockingly stopped Anthony Joshua in the seventh round to take his three heavyweight world title belts in a shocker. But lightning did not strike twice.
Schwarz had even eaten a Snickers bar at the ceremonial weigh-in on Friday as an homage to Ruiz’s well-publicized prefight snack and said Ruiz was an inspiration for him.
But Fury proved to be far too much. Fury might be too much for any heavyweight in the world.