LONDON -- Tyson Fury uncorked a brutal right uppercut that ended a rough-and-tumble title defense against Dillian Whyte in a U.K. homecoming before 94,000-plus at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
If you believe the heavyweight champion, it was the final fight of his Hall of Fame career.
Fury, known as "The Gypsy King," set up the fight-ending shot with a jab, one of 143 he threw in the fight. The uppercut immediately crumbled Whyte to the canvas. Whyte, 34, was fighting for the heavyweight title for the first time after he waited more than 1,600 days as WBC's No. 1 contender, and he seemingly used every ounce of strength left to beat the referee's count.
But when Whyte (28-3, 19 KOs) was asked to walk forward to prove his readiness, he tumbled into the ropes and the referee quickly halted the contest with one second remaining in Round 6, possibly signaling the end of Fury's career at 33 years old.
"I've done everything asked of me," Fury, ESPN's No. 5 pound-for-pound boxer, said at the postfight news conference. "I've done more promotion, more interviews than anybody, and I go above and beyond with all these shows I fight on, so I definitely deserve to be able to make a choice where I think it benefits me most.
"I've given 20 years to boxing, amateur and professional. I've had me brains knocked out. I've been put down, I've been rocked, I've been cut. I've had tough fights, I've had draws, I've had wins. I've boxed all over the world. How much blood can you get out of a stone?"
Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) was competing for the first time since an ultraviolent victory over Deontay Wilder in October that was named ESPN's Fight of the Year. In the trilogy battle, Fury floored Wilder once in Round 3 but was dropped twice himself in Round 4.
He concluded their bitter rivalry with another knockdown of Wilder in Round 10, followed by the vicious KO one round later.
At Friday's weigh-in, Fury weighed 264.8 pounds, nearly 13 pounds lighter than he did in October. It was an indication Fury wished to box off the back foot against Whyte rather than use the mauling strategy that worked so well against Wilder.
"I started touching him with an uppercut to the body, and then I just slipped to the side and, bang, beautiful peach," said Fury, whose previous five bouts took place in the U.S. "I was softening him up with the jab. I didn't get involved in a brawl, trading punches like I did against Wilder. I wanted to keep me distance, use me range."
Whyte entered the bout 1-1 against former titleholders, winning a decision over Joseph Parker and losing by TKO to Anthony Joshua.
Against Fury, he was seemingly searching for one haymaker that would end the contest. He found success in spurts when he was able to pin Fury on the ropes. But once Fury moved the action to the center of the ring, Whyte found himself on the end of Fury's sharp combinations.
Fury attacked Whyte's midsection with both hands and often mixed in a jab to the body. The champ's sharp, straight shots broke through Whyte's guard repeatedly, and by Round 3, his right eye was already damaged.
Whyte asserted himself more in Round 4 with an array of roughhouse tactics, and the diminutive referee encountered trouble when he attempted to break them up. Fury and Whyte began to shout at each other with claims they were fouled. The referee sternly warned them, but the words did little to maintain control.
Moments later, Whyte landed a blatant rabbit shot as the referee was attempting to break them, leading to yet another warning. Fury seemed reinvigorated by the tactic and began to fire more combinations punctuated by a hook thrown from both orthodox and southpaw.
"He tried to make it rough, fair play to him," said Fury, who was making his inaugural title defense in the U.K., after he first won the championship against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. "He was trying to handle me there.
"He was trying to wrestle with a dinosaur. I'm like a T. rex in there. I'm 6-foot-9, 270 pounds. It's difficult, especially when you're shorter and you're not as quick as well. He tried hitting me with the elbows, head. ... He was using the forearms, trying to elbow me. When you try to cheat in a fight, you always come up second-best."
Whyte, known as "The Body Snatcher," continued to attack Fury's midsection -- 17 of his 29 connects were to the body -- and he snuck in a couple of his patented left hooks to the head, but he was unable to sustain any offense.
The front-foot heavy Whyte, 6-4, 253.25 pounds, continually dangled his left hand and seemingly invited the uppercut that ended the bout. When it finally came, it was clear that all the critics who previously called Fury "pillow-fisted" were silenced for good, if they weren't already after Fury's two knockouts of Wilder.
"SugarHill Steward, he made me a great fighter," said Fury, who has scored three consecutive stoppages since a decision win over Otto Wallin in 2019. "Years ago, used to jib and jab, touch and slide.
"But you've seen me here tonight. ... You've made me the biggest puncher in the heavyweight division, by a mile."
Fury insisted he won't return to the ring, not even for an undisputed heavyweight title fight that lays before him. Oleksandr Usyk is set to defend the division's other three major titles against Anthony Joshua in a July 23 rematch. A potential fight that pits the winner against Fury, particularly if it's Joshua, a fellow Englishman, would be among the richest in all of boxing.
"There's a lot money to be earned, but for me, I come from f--- all, I come from nothing," said Fury, who earned a career-high $33,640,500, the result of a record purse bid won by promoter Frank Warren that included a $4,102,500 win bonus.
Fury added: "It's never been about money to me. I know a lot of people with big money, but none of them are happy. I know money can't make happiness. Not even been about belts for me. Never been about legacies. It's not been about anything but punching a mother----er's face right in on the night. That's all it's ever been about."
Even if Fury retires and keeps the promise he made to his wife, Paris, following the third Wilder fight, it's clear he will remain in the public eye. He discussed a return to WWE and a potential match with Scotland's Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam on July 30 in Nashville.
The following month, WWE will stage its first major event in the U.K. in 30 years with a stadium show in Cardiff, Wales, on Sept. 3.
"Don't rule me out of fighting there," said Fury, whose 2019 run in WWE concluded with a win over Braun Strowman at "Crown Jewel" in Saudi Arabia.
He added: "I got to speak to [WWE chairman] Vince [McMahon] and the boys. I know Drew McIntyre has been saying a lot of things about me. I'd love to be in Cardiff. I enjoyed it last time in Saudi Arabia; it was fantastic. We're going to be in contact and see if we can make SummerSlam a reality."
There's also UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who was in the ring with Fury to celebrate Saturday's win.
"Big Francis Ngannou is here today," Fury said. "He's on my hit list in an exhibition fight, however he wants it: in a cage, in a boxing ring, boxing gloves, UFC gloves, we can make it happen. I think everyone wants to see it. He's a monster of a guy, I'm a monster of a guy, so it will be a clash of the titans for sure."
In a nod to Floyd Mayweather's commercial bonanza in a boxing match against Logan Paul, Fury added: "I'm not ruling out exhibitions for sure; get some of that Floyd Mayweather money. I want to have fun. I'm an entertainer. ... It's what I do best."
There's no doubt about that. But fighting? That's surely a close second. Fury is unquestionably the top heavyweight of his generation, an all-time great whose tremendous frame belied his nimble feet. And whose ability to promote a fight is second to none.
"I've fulfilled everything I've ever wanted to fulfill," he said. "I'm going to retire as the second heavyweight in history after Rocky Marciano to retire undefeated. ... [Whyte] didn't fight a world champion, I ain't a world champion; I'm a legend in this game.
"And you can't deny it, I'm the best heavyweight who's ever been. There ain't ever been one who can beat me. Six-foot-9 frame, 270-pound weight, can move like a middleweight and hit like a thunderstorm and can take a punch like anybody else. ... [I have] the heart of a lion, the mindset of the Wizard of Oz.
"I gave everything to you guys, put it on the line every single time. Enough is enough. ... To come back for a big, big fight at home, it's been amazing. I couldn't have topped it off. It's been a fairy-tale few years. It's been absolutely more than I ever dreamed as a kid, and as an adult. ... I'm very happy with me career."