Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Tyson Fury bulldozes past Otto Wallin and towards Deontay Wilder through blood, guts and cuts
Last Updated: 16/09/19 6:25am
Who knows how a previous incarnation of Tyson Fury might have dealt with the horrible slash that, for several minutes where we held our collective breath, might have cost him his unbeaten record.
A more volatile, less mature Fury might not have been able to remain calm with the warm sensation of blood gushing down the side of his face, a doctor pestering him, and an opponent in Otto Wallin who wasn't expected to win but suddenly fancied making a name for himself.
Like a game of Russian Roulette at dawn it seemed like Fury might fall foul of bad luck when the odds were on his side. A sleepy Sunday might have been interrupted with the hazy news of another big oak tree crashing down, much like it was when Anthony Joshua fell.
It seemed that way for more than a brief moment. The severity of the wound above Fury's right eye was shocking and, the morning after the night before, he owes a debt of gratitude to the generosity of the referee and the ringside doctor who inspected him by literally peeking half-an-inch inside his head. It was a horror cut and much, much lesser injuries have caused the end of fights, which would have meant a first defeat for Fury.
The referee ruled that it was the result of a legal punch although Fury, separately, complained of Wallin's headbutts. There is precious little etiquette inside the ropes and irrespective of how Fury's face was split apart, he was obliged to work through it or forever be reminded that he couldn't.
His crisis management should never be questioned after the heroics of the 12th round of the draw against Deontay Wilder last year, when he rose from the depths of despair to hear the final bell. Last night against Wallin wasn't quite as astonishing but the way Fury trudged through the blood, guts and cuts was a reminder that he is a heavyweight with no blueprint of how to beat him.
The next hurdle may be whether the wound allows him enough time to turnaround and rematch Wilder in five months, as expected. It could be a very long time before he can be exposed to full sparring, or the cut may become a more permanent weakness.
This was the fifth fight back after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus in part caused by his mental health issues, during which time his weight ballooned. But he has never appeared so robust outside the ring - we are seeing Fury with his head screwed on and, after a brief loss of composure on Saturday night when he was cut, he responded with a performance of seniority.
His weight appears to be under control. At 254lbs (18st 2lbs) he was at his lowest since winning the world heavyweight championship from Wladimir Klitschko four years ago - that is the result of a busy schedule of fights and staying trim whenever he's not under the watchful eye of trainer Ben Davison. That is a solid-looking number to post on the scale for a heavyweight.
Fighting Wallin in preparation for Wilder was supposed to be a showcase on Mexican Independence weekend - the funny-man heavyweight who is best mates with his opponents at weigh-ins was the perfect jester for a traditional carnival in Vegas. This was supposed to be about exposure, about spreading the word from Nottingham's National Ice Centre and Norwich's Showground, where his early fights went unnoticed, through the Vegas casinos and by word-of-mouth to Tijuana, Monterrey and Chihuahua.
Those slowly venturing south on Monday morning after too much tequila will forget the prankster who wore a poncho and remember the brave, vicious champion who spilled blood and responded by seeking his opponent's. That's what Mexican boxing fans want to see.
Andy Ruiz Jr, Mexico's first world heavyweight champion who faces Joshua again on December 7, live on Sky Sports Box Office, wasn't impressed. He tweeted: "After that performance there's no way he beats me with a hand tied behind his back," in response to a jibe Fury had levelled at him.
Wilder must next do his bit by progressing past the challenge of Luis Ortiz before an expected rematch with Fury, but what would he have thought of last night's fight?
Wilder would have looked at the moments that Fury felt Wallin's punches. Fury's belief will grow that he can't be hurt.
Just like that, the rematch becomes juicier.