Heavyweight contender Tyson Fury remains unbeaten after defending his Commonwealth title by stopping Canadian champion Neven Pajkic in round three of a rollercoaster clash in Manchester, Eng, on Saturday.
At the end of a week in which he had revealed himself to be a troubled soul outside the ring, the rising star of British boxing showed plenty of resilience inside it when faced with the biggest crisis yet of a short but spectacular career.
As a swinging right hook from 34-year-old Pajkic sent him crashing to the floor — with 58 seconds of the second round left — Fury, who had never been down before, appeared on the brink of his first defeat. Somehow, though, the 6-feet 9 giant hung on for the bell.
And having survived, he went on to thrive. Two minutes into the third, it was Pajkic’s turn to hit the deck following a stream of heavy, clubbing shots. He suffered the same fate immediately afterwards when the now-recovered Fury unloaded again, at which point the referee decided the challenger had taken enough punishment.
Fuming, Pajkic (16-1, 5 knockouts) complained the intervention was hasty. But referee Phil Edwards probably got it right. The Bosnian, who resides in Toronto, seemed ready to fall at any moment.
That was how Fury (17-0, 12 KOs) viewed it when discussing the latest thrills-and-spills encounter of his colourful climb up the heavyweight ladder.
“I gave myself a scare there for a sec,” said the 23-year-old Mancunian. “It shook the brain up a bit, but that’s probably what I needed. A bit of shaking up to wake up. You have to shake a leg to wake up. As I’ve always said, heavyweights are heavyweights. He got me with a good shot on the chin, I went down, got back up and stopped him.
“My legs were strong as soon as I got back up, so I was all right. It shows a true champion to get knocked down like that and get back up to knock a guy out.
“I have to give Neven full credit for coming here and putting on a terrific fight. Three knock-downs in one fight. As ever it’s always value for money with Tyson Fury. I thought the fight would continue longer and I’m now going to get more criticism for the referee jumping in.
“But he’s got a job to do and felt Nevan was in no fit state to continue. One more punch and it was all over anyway.”