Tyson Fury found out that there is no substitute in the boxing business for rounds when he was declared a controversial winner of the English heavyweight title against John McDermott last night at Brentwood Leisure Centre.
Fury entered the ring having only completed nine full rounds in seven quick fights since turning professional last December, and McDermott made him look like a raw novice at times. McDermott's last two fights were for the British title and he lost both on disputed decisions over 12 rounds to Danny Williams, but last night at the completion of 10 rounds he looked like a clear winner.
However, the referee, Terry O'Connor, raised Fury's hand and declared him the new English heavyweight champion by a staggering score of 98-92, which left even Fury with a confused look on his face. McDermott's promoter Frank Maloney is expected to seek an immediate rematch.
It was, as hoped for, an exceptional fight from the opening bell and it was clear after two or three rounds that McDermott, the veteran, had no fear of Fury and was able to push him back.
Fury, who is still only 21, had never been beyond four rounds and showed tremendous heart and variety of punch from the first bell until the dramatic last bell, but he was simply beaten to the punch by the wiser, older fighter.
In the weeks before the fight McDermott had been called McMuffin, McDonut and Big Mac and he fought from the opening bell like a man seeking justice with his fists. He walked through Fury's punches, landed both short and long shots of his own and never once looked in trouble.
"What do I have to do?" asked a tearful McDermott at the end. "He's a brave kid, a nice boxer but I won the fight clearly. It was not even close - even his fans know that I won the fight."
The win will slow down Fury's rapid progress, which will be a blessing at his tender age. However, his future on the British, European and world heavyweight scene will be determined not by last night's fight, not by his mouth, not by his previous seven wins, but by how he fights when he gets McDermott back in the ring to clear his name.