Fury wants title date with Klitschko
The fans wanted more blood and thunder, Tyson Fury was intent on handing out a boxing lesson and he did just that.
In the bowels of the Odyssey Arena Kevin Johnson was still talking a good fight and out of the thousand words that swirled around his tongue like New York coffee he paid Fury the ultimate compliment, even if he didn't realise it — the crafty boxer had been outsmarted.
Fury, as promoter Mick Hennessy insisted, is “now in pole position” for a shot at WBC World heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko after his 12-round domination of Johnson in their WBC World heavyweight title eliminator. The last man to do such a job was the big Ukrainian himself three years ago.
Yes, Fury had to listen to a few boos along the way to victory over Johnson but this was a night to reveal to the world a new dimension to his repertoire which in the past had all been about natural guts and heart.
Fury was deducted a point for hitting on the break in the seventh on the way to a unanimous decision (119-108, 119-108, 119-110) which saw him largely dominate with his jab, refusing to be drawn into the traps being set by Johnson and when the moment came such as in rounds eight, 10 and 11 he uncorked some fine combinations to body and head.
“You know 12 months ago Kevin would have stopped me inside seven rounds because it would have been attack, attack, attack and after five rounds I would have tired and then I would have got stopped for sure,” said Fury.
“I studied Kevin, we knew that he was a slippery guy. I promised Peter I wouldn't go hell for leather and let the heart get the better of me and I didn't, I stuck to the game plan.
“This fight takes me to another level.
“There's a big difference between domestic and world level. You can go in there and blow away some domestic journeyman but at world class level you can't just go in and throw shots, you have to set them up.
“Credit to my uncle Peter he has turned me into a machine, into an athlete. Look at the shape I was in tonight, my fitness, my workrate.
“If I can get the Vitali fight I'll take it and if his brother is ready to step I'll fight Wladimir too.”
Johnson offered no excuses and even his coach Jeff Mayweather, who had derided Fury's potential, had to reassess his view of the 24-year-old.
Johnson said: “I thought he was going to bring the fight but he didn't, he boxed. When I tried to engage him he did something that I never expected. He landed some real clean shots but I have one of the best chins in boxing so I knew that I could press.
“They had a brilliant strategy, if this had been months ago he would have fallen for a few booby traps that I had set. He did stuff tonight that I normally do, he worked beautifully up and down the body.
“He can be world champion, I would say that he has a seven and a half chance out of 10 and that's a bigger chance than I would give anyone else.”
As for Fury's so-called British rival, Johnson scoffed at the suggestion that the Scouser would be a threat. “Price is a piece of s***. You can't compare the two, no way.”
Fury will now take the number one challenger position in the WBC rankings, while next month Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverene box in a final eliminator for a shot at Klitschko. That leaves promoter Mick Hennessy to work out when and where his 6ft 9' warrior will challenge for the biggest prize in sport in 2013.
That could mean a date at Croke Park as Hennessy revealed that he has been in talks with the promoter of the Klitschkos about an outdoor event.
“If Vitali keeps fighting then he has to face the winner of Arreola and Stiverene but that doesn't meant that Tyson cannot face Vitali in a voluntary defence if we can agree the business end of things,” said Hennessy. “What I do know is that the Klitschkos people want the fight with Tyson.”
When all the talking ceased, Fury rounded off the night with a song for the media. “Did you ever know that you're my hero...” crooned Fury.
If those keys were a little suspect, he was on song when it came to keeping his world heavyweight title dream alive.
Meanwhile, Lurgan’s Stephen Haughian was left gutted by his 77-76 points defeat at the hands of former Commonwealth champion John O’Donnell. Haughian had O’Donnell down in the first and in some trouble and wants an immediate re-match.
Chris Eubank jnr extended his unbeaten record to eight when he outpointed ex-Commonwealth light-middleweight champion Bradley Pryce, 80-73 with some flashy combination punching.
Darren Corbett, 40, retired midway through the first round of his fight with Conall Carmichael with an ankle injury
Other results: Light-middle: Phill Fury bt Joe Hillerby 78-74; Feather: Marc McCullough bt Michael Kelly 40-36; Middle: Matthew Wilton bt Jozsef Garai 40-36; Middle: John Hutchinson bt Gerard Healy 40-37; Feather: Daniel McShane bt Janis Puksins 40-35 (Puskins was down in the first); Feather: Paul Quinn bt Tibor Mezaros 40-36.