Tyson Fury Rollercoaster Rolls On
Tonight in his birthplace of Manchester, England, Tyson Fury 17-0 (12) scored a crowd pleasing third round stoppage of Canadian Heavyweight champion Neven Pajkic 16-1 (5) in defence of his Commonwealth Heavyweight title.
Sandwiched between the sobering Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, Saturday night at Event City was all about the 23 year old British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion continuing his quest for greatness in boxing's blue riband weight class and while greatness may be a way down the road yet, for entertainment value Fury is up there with the best of them right now.
The build-up to the fight saw Fury change trainers for the fifth time in his career, this time employing the services of former Steve Molitor mentor Chris Johnson in an effort to avoid a family feud with previous trainer and uncle, Hughie Fury. '
In the moments before the fight, Johnson declared he believed the 6 ft 9 (206 cm) traveller would become Britain's next heavyweight champion of the world. Fury had also spoken candidly in the build-up about suffering mood swings, suicidal thoughts and a possible need for psychiatric help.
It was perhaps therefore no surprise that Fury had also claimed, on Box Nation's Bunce's Boxing Hour, that he was 'going in there to kill him [Pajkic] stone dead' after the Canadian responded to Fury's pre-fight assertions by insulting Fury's wife and father.
Fury made his way to the ring wearing a T-Shirt displaying a tribute to the late, great, Smokin' Joe Frazier, to the strains of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and the bell tolled a traditional ten times for the former Heavyweight Champion before the main event got underway with Fury holding a 6 inch height, 25 lb weight and 11 year age advantage.
The opening round was, at first, pedestrian. Pajkic lurched forwards, landing wild, swinging shots on the retreating Fury. Pajkic was certainly the aggressor, Fury standing off and seemingly content to feel his opponent out. Pajkic got into range a number of times, Fury not using his considerable jab effectively and the Canadian took the opener.
Round two saw the two men continue to grapple, the fight looking untidy. Fury finally landed some meaningful shots on his opponent and raised his arms, tapping his chest in an 'I'm the man' manner, beckoning Pajkic in. Just as the jab was starting to work, Fury dropped his guard and with a minute of the round remaining shipped a huge right hand which sent him falling backwards to the canvas. He rose immediately before taking another big right hand then traded with Pajkic as the round drew to a close. The atmosphere was by now electric, a small disturbance flaring at ringside as tensions ran high. Fury saw out the round but lost it 10-8 in dramatic fashion.
The third round was initially scrappy, both men having limited success. Fury's promoter at ringside, Mick Hennessy, yelled 'jab-jab, jab-jab' in a plea for Fury to keep Pajkic on the back foot. Fury landed a big right then a huge uppercut which shook Pajkic to his boots, before landing four unanswered chopping rights to bludgeon the Canadian champion down. Fury then landed a couple more lefts and rights and Pajkic was sent sprawling to the canvas for a second time. Sensing a stoppage, Fury landed a left hook then a right uppercut before referee Phil Edwards jumped in to call it off.
Neither man seemed happy with the stoppage and perhaps it was premature but Pajkic was hurt and on the verge of going down for the third time.
As the MC announced the result stating the referee stopped the fight with Pajkic unable to continue, the Canadian grabbed the microphone in protest, claiming he was able to continue, clearly still unhappy with the stoppage and smarting from his first professional defeat.
Fury's star is now rising fast – the July defeat of Dereck Chisora at Wembley Arena attracted a peak audience of 3m viewers on the terrestrial Channel 5. To put that in context, the 2008 Froch-Pascal battle and FOTY candidate attracted 2.9m terrestrial viewers on ITV1. The entertaining fifth round stoppage of Nicolai Firtha in Belfast in September was well received and tonight's action packed victory means the Tyson Fury rollercoaster ride continues and with this level of excitement, no-one wants to get off.
Eubank Jr vs Psonko
Chief support saw the professional debut of Chris Eubank Jr at Middleweight, taking on Lithuanian Kirilas Psonko 8-16-1 (6). His father and former Super Middleweight champion of the world Chris accompanied his son during the ringwalk, beaming with pride as his boy stood on the ring apron surveying the crowd with the confidence of a seasoned pro before leaping the top rope and shadow boxing his way across the ring.
Eubank Jr, with only 26 amateur fights behind him, oozed confidence in the first. Carrying his left hand low, he showed lateral movement, heavy hands and lightening quick reflexes.
Eubank backed this up in round two, showing punch variety - stiff jabs, powerful hooks to the body, uppercuts, with not much coming back from his defensive opponent.
By the end of the third, Psonko was showing signs of fatigue, the body shots beginning to take their toll. Psonko was eventually stopped in the fourth, after taking a sustained period of pressure and offering nothing in return.
Not quite 'Simply The Best' and comparisons with his Father would be unfair, but this was certainly a promising performance and a very assured professional debut from the Brighton based fighter. Post- fight, Eubank Sr described the performance as 'almost perfect'. Eubank Jr, gave out his Twitter username for the nation to follow his progress in the professional ranks.