Tyson Fury sensationally beat Wladimir Klitschko on points to claim the WBA Super, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in Dusseldorf on Saturday.
Klitschko’s era of dominance came to an end in a fight that started off as a cagey, tactical affair but ended with fireworks as Fury overcame the odds to back up his pre-bout bravado with a unanimous points decision – the judges scoring it 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111.
The triumphant Briton – who controversially had a point deducted in the penultimate round for punching to the back of the head – serenaded his wife in the ring after his shock victory, while the beaten Klitschko was downcast.
It is the first loss Klitschko – 12 years his opponent’s senior – has suffered since 2004, while Fury is now 25 unbeaten.
The 27-year-old from Greater Manchester had been full of confidence in the build-up to the contest, dressing as Batman, singing to Klitschko and boldly predicting an easy win.
But Fury’s respect for the seasoned champion was clear in the early rounds, even if some of the posturing was still in evidence. Fury – standing three inches taller than Klitschko – was hesitant and did little to trouble the formidable defence of his 39-year-old adversary.
Suddenly the Fury camp’s last-gasp mind games, which included complaints about the canvas and an interjection over the wrapping of Klitschko’s gloves, appeared as though they may have been the result of fear and not self-belief.
It was Fury who began to force the issue, though, and after a lively fourth round from the champion was followed by a comfortable fifth, the challenger began to make his mark.
In the seventh he was the clear aggressor, landing a flurry of shots as he started to demonstrate his prowess as a switch-hitter, adopting the southpaw stance to keep Klitschko on his toes.
A probing jab sent Klitschko’s head rocking back and Fury went back to his corner much the happier of the two, still frequently gesturing and mouthing to his rival.
The eighth looked to belong to Fury, too, his combination of jabs landing, while Klitschko failed to connect with anything meaningful.
With the contest so finely poised heading into the closing rounds, both fighters knew that a decision on points would be close so sought to turn up the heat, and it was Klitschko who initially fared better.
Having connected with two big rights in the ninth, the Ukrainian seemed to be timing his resurgence well, but Fury finished the round well and continued that pattern into the remainder of a thrilling climax, which ultimately ended with a new champion being crowned in Germany.