LONDON (AP) — What might be the final punch of Tyson Fury’s controversial boxing career smashed into the chin of Dillian Whyte, sending him to the canvas and one of his teeth flying through the air.
Fury raised his right hand in celebration, knowing there would be no coming back from an uppercut seemingly felt all around Wembley Stadium.
And sure enough, there wasn’t.
With a brutal finish in the last seconds of the sixth round, Fury defeated Whyte — his fellow Briton and former sparring partner — in front of more than 94,000 fans inside England’s national soccer stadium to stay unbeaten with the 32nd win in his 33-fight professional career.
And that, the 33-year-old Fury said, could be it.
“This might be the final curtain for the Gypsy King,” Fury said in the ring, with his WBC and Ring Magazine belts around his shoulders. “What a way to go out.”
He wasn’t quite finished there. A born entertainer, Fury gave the biggest ever capacity for a boxing bout in Britain a now-familiar post-fight rendition of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
He celebrated with his team and posed for pictures with kids, wearing the red-and-white colors of the flag of England on St. George’s Day.
Fury was soaking in perhaps his last moments in a ring after 14 years as a professional. For his last fight — or so he says — he gave a clinic.
After a gripping trilogy with Deontay Wilder in the United States, Whyte was a big step-down for Fury, who mostly toyed with his compatriot after sizing him up in a cagey opening couple of rounds.
Fury was in control of the fight without truly exerting himself until the fifth round, which he dominated. A body shot and then a straight right rocked Whyte back, getting the crowd going.
By what proved to be the final round, Whyte was starting to breathe heavier and had a cut around his right eye — potentially from a clash of heads.
Whyte — the long-time mandatory challenger — was mostly reckless with some big but wayward shots. He tried to play rough and get in the head of Fury, while hoping to land the one big punch to turn him into a superstar overnight.
In the end, it came from the right hand of Fury, which sent Whyte collapsing to the canvas.
Whyte eventually got to his feet and tried to show he was ready to continue but then staggered toward the ropes, leading the referee to end the fight.
Fury called it a “Wembley Stadium show-stopper.”
“He is as strong as a bull and has the heart of a lion,” Fury said of Whyte, “but tonight he met a great in the sport, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
“I think,” Fury added, “even Lennox Lewis would be proud of that uppercut.”
If he does retire, Fury will go down as the greatest British heavyweight, surpassing Lewis.
What might yet make him continue is the chance to be the undisputed champion from what could be a hugely lucrative bout against Oleksandr Usyk or Anthony Joshua.
Usyk beat Joshua last September to take the WBA, IBF and WBO belts and is preparing for a rematch with Joshua after leaving his native Ukraine, where he was helping his country in the war with Russia.
That’s all Fury would have left to claim among the current crop of heavyweights in an average era for the sport’s marquee division, which would be a quieter place without the 6-foot-9 Brit whose mouth and opinions have gotten him in trouble down the years.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before — I messed up my ring walk!” said Fury, who came out in a red-and-white gown, blowing kisses to the crowd before fireworks illuminated Wembley.
He jogged to the ring and sat on a throne. He then showed he was the king of the heavyweights, at least far too good for Whyte.
“He didn’t just fight a world champion in this game,” Fury said. “I’m a legend … what a way to top it all off.”
Just to be sure, Fury was asked one final time: Is that really it?
“I definitely think so,” he said.
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80