If entertainment was the goal, Tyson Fury scored on his Las Vegas debut. He might even consider a residency on the Strip, not as a boxer since there was too little of that on Saturday night, but as a warbler, banging out karaoke standards via plausible pipes. Addressing his wife Paris after his second-round ‘victory’ over Tom Schwarz, Fury took the mic for a blast of soppy Aerosmith ballad, I don’t want to miss a thing.
At the post-fight press conference, Fury reverted to an older repertoire for a chorus of Don McLean’s American Pie. He is a dangerous man with whom to hang out in this mood. There was no escape for joint promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum, who shuffled awkwardly when instructed to join in, a pair of bad dad dancers treating the mic like a hot coal. How could they refuse? Fury pays the ferryman.
His insouciance was understandable. There was not an ounce of jeopardy from start to finish against a fighter with feet of stone and hands like petals. Schwarz had fought outside his native Germany only twice before and that with the permission of his mother. The unbeaten detail on his record was a reflection of the modest standard of domestic opponent he had been fed to build a ranking in unseen halls. Jamaica’s heavyweight agitator Dillian Whyte dismissed him as Tom Bum, claiming his old lady would have knocked him out. Unkind but accurate.
Fury entered the MGM Grand Garden Arena to the strains of James Brown’s Living in America. The forelock tug to all things Yankee Doodle continued with the stars and stripes top hat, robe and shorts favoured by Rocky IV character Apollo Creed. Fury could not have deferred more to his hosts. As the referee gave his instructions, an utterly unconcerned Fury shouted ‘weltmeister’ ironically at Schwarz. The poor boy seemed ready to cry.
Fury speared 45 unanswered jabs through the Schwarz guard in the opening round. There was little coming back. Fury engaged his inner Muhammad Ali in the second round, swaying out of harm’s way with his hands by his side on the ropes. The episode demonstrated two things. That Schwarz could not hit a 6ft 9in barn door with a banjo, and Fury has suffered more discomfort in a safe-play area with the kids.
With 40 seconds of the second round remaining, Schwarz finally went to ground, his bloody nose spread all over his face. He got to his feet indicating he was ready to continue without convincing any that the contest was remotely viable. Sure enough, Fury pinned Schwarz to a post and punched him into submission, the referee stepping in to halt the slaughter with six seconds of the round remaining.
“Welcome to Las Vegas,” exclaimed ESPN’s Joe Tessitore, before adding, predictably, “that was a Vegas showstopper”. Well, their money does come from the same ESPN account. Fury expects to go again in September or October in New York or Las Vegas before resuming his dispute with Deontay Wilder. Though the sporting imperative placing them in the same ring is unavoidable, sporting considerations are a long way second to business. By delaying, the stakeholders believe there is more dough to be made. The boxers have nil power nor inclination to intervene so we must put up with more second-rate vaudeville.
After celebrating in his dressing room with heavyweight chef Gordon Ramsay, as you do, Fury took himself off to the Schwarz inner sanctum to offer some encouragement for the woefully overmatched 25-year-old. “We recently saw last week some people quit. Bodies quit. Heavy and he didn’t want to fight on. You wanted to continue, you’re a good lad. Keep your chin up and get back in the gym.”
The “quitter” referenced was, of course, Anthony Joshua, pictured, whose parallel route across the United States was derailed a fortnight ago in New York. There was nil chance of a repeat here. Team Fury had done their job alighting on an opponent who measured up on paper to allow the contest to be taken to market. The trick was to deflect and dissemble in order to avoid purposeful scrutiny. The noise around Joshua and subsequently Wilder announcing a September date with Luis Ortiz proved more than helpful in that regard. An estimated 9,000 tickets sold was some achievement. Having done his work, Fury reinstated the siren call to Wilder. “It’s the biggest fight in world boxing,” Fury said. “Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, the rematch. I don’t see anybody else coming up who can be as big. You’ve got two undefeated heavyweight champions, the lineal champion and the WBC champion, fighting in their prime. It doesn’t get any bigger.” Blah, blah, blah.