Tyson Fury kept alive his hopes of a WBO world heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitchsko later on this year with a conclusive victory over Christian Hammer at the o2 arena last night, after the German-based Romanian retired after eight rounds.
Fury is the mandatory challenger for the Klitschko's title, and said after the win that he is "ready" for the Ukrainian, who has not lost sine 2004.
"I'm a much improved fighter and that's why I'm ready for Klitschko next," he said. Talks have begun over a fight between the pair in September with Wembley and the Emirates mooted as potential hosts.
The 26-year-old Fury extended his unbeaten record to 24 fights.
An Elvis impersonator sang Fury into the arena, and soon Hammer would be entering the Heartbreak Hotel.
A relaxed Fury was all smiles before the opening bell, and still maintained a cheeky grin for most of the first three rounds, boxing at range to dampen the enthusiasm of Hammer.
The 6ft 9in giant mixed up his array of attacks in the fourth, before a heavy right to the top of the head in the fifth knocked Hammer down the canvas. The 27-year-old beat referee Marcos McDonnell’s 10 count, but only more punishment awaited for the rest of the round.
Totally assured and in control, the next three rounds were more of a glorified spar for Fury. Wisely pulled out by his corner, Hammer did not emerge for the ninth.
Always the entertainer, Fury even delighted the crowd with rendition of "Walking in Memphis" from the o2 ring after his name was announced as the winner.
On the undercard, Chris Eubank Jr put in the most accomplished performance of his career to stop the resilient Russian Dmitry Chudinov after a devastating 12th-round stoppage to win the interim WBA world middleweight title.