Tyson Fury eased to victory on the occasion of his first fight in Las Vegas as he furthered his reputation as the world's finest heavyweight by stopping Germany's Tom Schwarz in the second round.
Fulfilling a lifelong ambition of finally fighting in the Sin City, at the revered MGM Grand, he showed a destructive edge he has rarely previously demonstrated to justify the significant interest he has generated in the US since his fight with Deontay Wilder.
Fury had perhaps re-established himself as the world's leading heavyweight with December's thrilling draw against the American, when his performance deserved victory, and his reputation grew to such an extent he signed a lucrative contract to fight on ESPN out of the US against an unremarkable opponent.
Concerns persisted that the rounded abilities he traditionally favours over power and strength meant he would win without the sense of drama generated against Wilder and instead effortlessly out-jab Schwarz in the same way he once did Dereck Chisora, but he instead fought to make a statement and succeeded in doing exactly that.
Wearing the US stars and stripes to and in the ring in an obvious attempt to further his growing popularity among Americans, he made a typically fast start to highlight the extent of the challenge the 25-year-old Schwarz faced.
He landed with two strong left hands, and then began to regularly land with the jab to both head and body while using his range and mobility to negate Schwarz's ineffective aggression.
So comfortable was Fury that he remained on his feet instead of sitting on his stool at the end of the round, and when the second started he just as effortlessly intensified his efforts to ruthlessly and swiftly secure the stoppage.
After hurting Schwarz with a combination, the 30-year-old landed a powerful left hand, danced his way out of the corner to resist his opponent and then leave him vulnerable, and then landed another hurtful combination and a left uppercut.
Schwarz's face and nose were by then already bloodied, and his struggles increased as he continued to take powerful punches.
Fury's fine reflexes and head movement meant the German's last attack made no impact, and he then went down for the first time when he took a straight right while trapped against the ropes.
The Briton pursued victory the instant Schwarz returned to his feet, backing him into a corner where he continued to hurt him to both head and body and attracting the close attention of referee Kenny Bayliss until, with only 10 seconds of the round remaining, his trainer Rene Friese rightly threw in the towel.
If his main rival as the world's best heavyweight had been Anthony Joshua, the former IBF, WBA and WBO champion's recent shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr means he will not be considered a realistic contender until he avenges that loss, and his latest convincing performance means he no longer has such a rival.
It is little secret Fury expects to fight Wilder in a rematch next year, and having planned to fight at least once more before the end of 2019, he revealed he already has dates of September 21 or October 5 agreed in principle before continuing to play the showman by singing a song for the 9,000 present in the arena.
"The key was to enjoy myself," Fury said.
"I used the jab. I was slipping with my hands down and sliding, shifted to southpaw and caught him with a straight left. It was a good shot; it would have put anybody away.
"I put on an extra 12 pounds. I really feel it. This time I had a few malts out of the ring.
"The Mac is back. The lineal champion is back.
"I came here to put on a show for Las Vegas and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
"Bob (Arum, promoter in the US) will tell you we have September 21 or October 5, then next year we are going to hold down Deontay Wilder to give me that green (WBC) belt."
Joseph Parker's ringside verdict
The former world champion from New Zealand tells the BBC:
It was a great welcoming fight for him in Las Vegas and I know Tyson Fury has a lot more to give in the future of boxing.
He is the type of fighter you have to chase down to get to his body because he is very good at not getting hit. Th next time he face Deontay Wilder I think it is a great chance to get the win.
The heavyweight division is alive and well and there are some big fights to be made in the future.
I came here to have fun and enjoy myself to put on show and I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did.
I want to thank ESPN for putting on a great show. I have never seen promoting like this. I'm glad I have signed with the best team in the world. We have either 21 September or 5 October booked and next year we will hunt down Wilder and make him give me that belt.
Fury switches to southpaw landing uppercuts, Schwarz lands a right hand and the crowd roars and they engage, Furty lands heavy responses. Fury has broken Schwarz nose with right hook and left hands, there is blood on his face. Brilliant work on the ropes as Fury avoids four, five, six punches... The Fury lands heavily. Schwarz down on his knees, genuflects from a right hook. Eight count. They resume. Fury goes after the finish and the German is under pressure and hurt on the ropes. The towel comes in from the younger man's corner on the bell and referee Bayless steps between them.
STATEMENT FROM FURY. ROUND 2 TKO WINNER. EXACTLY WHAT THE GYPSY KING NEEDED TO DO,.
Tyson Fury stops Tom Schwarz in the second round!
Fury's backed on to the ropes, but plants a rock-solid left on to the chin of Schwarz! The first big hit of the night, and Fury enjoys it. And then a combination! Schwarz is covered in blood already. Back comes the German...and Fury just dances around it. And then a right hand puts Schwarz to his knee!
Into the corner, Fury winds it up...and in steps the referee! It's all over in the second round!
Round 1 of 12
Fury sneaks in an early left jab, and then a straight right through the guard, before Schwarz responds with a right-hander of his own. A fairly tame, tentative opening round, which Fury largely had under his spell.
Left hook, lovely jabs from Fury, alternating from being on the ropes and dominating with his armoury of punches. Schwarz face quite marked up already from the jabs pummelling him. Huge right hand from Schwarz flew by Fury who moved smartly - just a reminder that anything can happen in heavyweight boxing...
Gareth A Davies in Vegas...
Tyson Fury out to Winston Churchill 'We Shall Never Surrender', and bedecked in top hat and robe in the colours of the American flag, to the strains off Living In America - James Brown, of course. Funky...
Here we go, then fighters being called to the fight by Jimmy Lennon Jr
Light heavyweights Jesse Hart and Sullivan Barrera have just come to the end of an entertaining 10 round scrap and we begin to hear the strains of that 1969 hit of Neil Diamond... you know the one... Sweet... Caroline....
Attendance is 9,012.
The walkout music - I can reveal - involves Winston Churchill and an amazing rousing walkout... here... we.... go...
Shaq is here, Gordon Ramsey is here... it's time for main event action...
Shaq reveals he's a huge Deontay Wilder fan...
Tyson Fury must set off fireworks against Tom Schwarz if he is to truly conquer America
Here's Gareth's full scene-setter from Las Vegas...
Against Schwarz, Fury should follow the lead of the two greats, pressing home his advantages of height, reach, experience and class to help his paymasters ESPN build towards the proposed end game of a trilogy of super fights with Deontay Wilder, the World Boxing Council champion, after their disputed draw last December.
ESPN reach 87 million homes on this continent and Fury has had decent billing all week, among the NBA finals between the Warriors and the Raptors and the Stanley Cup ice hockey play-offs. It is time to turn it on. Big time.
While Fury’s face has been ubiquitous on the neon billboards at the southern end of The Strip in the world’s gambling capital in the Mojave Desert, throughout this fight week, Fury’s team have noticeably played down the Vegas vibe.
Pre-fight view from ringside
Gareth A Davieson how this one might pan out...
The entertainer Tyson Fury must flick the switch to ruthless executioner at the MGM Grand Garden Arena tonight and produce a statement performance against unbeaten German underdog Tom Schwarz tonight as the towering British boxer starts a heavily marketed USA career backed by broadcasting giants ESPN.
The time for showboating is over. Anything less than an emphatic display in Sin City's mecca for modern fight night classics against a big, strong opponent highly ranked by the WBO sanctioning body but in reality levels below the former world No 1 in skills, will not suffice.
Noise is needed, and twelve rounds of 'boxing' will not satisfy the craving for the self-styled Gypsy King to impose himself on American fight market.
I'd like to see Fury get this done inside seven rounds. But a third or fourth round KO would really hit the mark.
A family affair...
With Tyson topping the bill tonight, and Tommy Fury on the ropes on Love Island, another member of the dynasty was in action tonight. Gareth has the details:
Isaac Lowe, Tyson Fury's cousin, retained his WBC international title and unbeaten 18-fight career with victory over Duarn Vue. Unanimous Decision, : 97-93, 98-92, 99-91.
“This was a great experience. Look at me, 25 years old, fighting in Las Vegas on the undercard of the big fellow,” says Lowe after the fight. “I hurt my right hand in the fourth round, so I was limited as to what I could do in there.
But we got the job done, and we’re going to go back to the drawing board and see what it is next.” “I’m still learning in there, and I know that there’s room for improvement. On to the next one. It’s going to be a party tonight in Las Vegas."
Josh Warrington beat Kid Galahad to retain his world title - and then targeted an America fight next. Gareth A Davies reports...
After a tense build up in the week, Galahad slowed the pace of the fight with clever footwork, but it was the champion's work-rate that caught the eye of the judges as the all-Yorkshire affair went to the Leeds fighter rather than the Sheffield man.
With scores of 115-113 from judge Howard Foster for Galahad, and cards returned of 116-112 and 116-113 from Steve Gray and Michael Alexander respectively, Warrington made a successful second defence of the crown having taken the belt from Lee Selby last year and then having beaten Carl Frampton late last year in an all-action thriller.
This was by no means an exciting affair, scrappy at best with holding all the way through which nullified most of the champion's work. Referee Phil Edwards had to pull the two men apart time and again.
A British heavyweight going over the side of the Atlantic for a routine-looking fight against a relatively unknown - but unbeaten - challenger? Suddenly it doesn't look quite such a sure thing.
Anthony Joshua's stunning loss of his heavyweight belts to Andy Ruiz Jr have the division quite the wake-up call. And, having answered one of my own, here's live coverage of Tyson Fury's latest stage of his post-hiatus comeback against the German Tom Schwarz.
As ever, our man Gareth A Davies is in Vegas to bring you all the updates that matter. Like this one:
Still awake? Good. Fighters expected in the ring within an hour or so...