Tyson Fury says he can walk away from boxing after winning “every belt there is to win” following a moment of brutal magic to stop Dillian Whyte and retain his WBC heavyweight crown.
The unbeaten fighter produced a vicious uppercut at the end of the sixth round of the all-British fight on Saturday, sending a crowd of 94,000 at Wembley Stadium into raptures.
The 33-year-old then told his adoring fans he was sticking to his plan to hang up his gloves -forgoing the opportunity to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.
Fury said he had promised his wife, Paris, after his third fight with Deontay Wilder in October that he would quit but owed it to his fans to fight one more time on home soil.
“This might be the final curtain for the Gypsy King,” he said immediately after his victory in London on Saturday. “And what a way to go out.”
“I’ve won every belt there is to win, there’s nothing more I can do, I’ve won every belt in the game,” he said later at his post-match press conference.
“If this was a computer game it would definitely be completed for sure.”
– ‘Clash of the titans’ –
But Fury also muddied the waters on a highly charged evening, saying he had UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in his sights after the Cameroonian MMA fighter got into the ring during the celebrations.
“I want to have fun,” he said. “I’m an entertainer and it’s what I do best. Big Francis Ngannou is on my hitlist in an exhibition fight.
“However he wants it, in a cage, in a ring, with boxing gloves or UFC gloves, we can make it happen. He is a monster of a guy and so am I, so it will be a clash of the titans.”
If this was to be the last official bout of his colourful career, Fury went out with a bang, revelling in the passionate support of an adoring crowd.
Wembley rocked to the strains of Don McLean’s “American Pie” as huge screens in the stadium showed images of his glittering career.
Ever the showman, Fury entered the arena decked in the red and white of the English flag, before posing on a golden throne as fireworks pierced the darkness.
The giant fighter then discarded his robe and jogged to the ring, where he dominated the fight before the decisive moment left Whyte on the floor and unable to continue.
Fury then led the crowd in a rendition of “American Pie” as he revelled in his victory.
In reflective mood, the British boxer paid tribute to promoter Frank Warren – Fury battled depression, drink and drug problems in the years after he beat Wladimir Klitschko to claim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts in 2015.
“Frank brought me back from the brink of death when everyone else was scared to get me in the ring,” he told reporters.
“He brought me back from being a fat man of 28 stone (392 pounds, 178 kilogrammes).”
So is this really it? Can Fury resist the temptation to have a shot at becoming arguably the greatest British heavyweight of all time?
“I’m going to retire as the second heavyweight in history after Rocky Marciano to retire undefeated,” he said, before adding: “All roads led to the Gypsy King and I was unbeatable at this game.”
But Lewis is clearly not calling time on Fury’s career just yet, tweeting that Fury’s performance at Wembley “emphatically keeps him as the man to beat”.
“He’s already in a very exclusive club in boxing, but I look forward to welcoming him to the undisputed club,” he said. “Let’s get it done”.
Fury will surely be tempted by a unification bout against either fellow British fighter Anthony Joshua or Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the WBA, IBF and WBO belts.
This is not the first time he has announced his retirement, only to come back for more.