Tyson Fury was equal part bombast and brutality — his message was firmly communicated across the pond but will have sent shockwaves back home, too, where Anthony Joshua is licking his wounds.
The Fury show was the only extravaganza worth seeing on the Vegas Strip last Saturday night.
It had colour, it had charisma, it started with a fight, featured a sing and a dance, and ended in a nightclub. What matters most was that Fury looked spectacular in his two-round blowout of Tom Schwarz.
Gloves by his side, a playful Fury bobbed and weaved away from eight consecutive punches from Schwarz, each thrown more desperately than the last. It was class, and a reminder of what Fury can do. He was visibly impressed by his own footwork when he pirouetted out of a corner when he looked stuck.
The finish came just moments later. Schwarz no longer knew where the punches were coming from. He fell, got up, still could not defend himself, and was saved. Unlike Fury’s brilliant reflexes earlier in the fight, this kind of brutal stoppage is not what he is associated with. It was jarring.
It was also a stark reminder of the lengths that Joshua must go to rebuild, and to climb the mountain again.
Reclaiming the world heavyweight championship from Andy Ruiz Jr and rectifying his nightmare US debut is the necessary first step but the paradigm has not just been shifted by that result — it has been torn up, to be started again.
Fury began this month as the only one of the ‘big three’ heavyweights without gold around his waist but ends it with a legitimate claim to be the best.
This is Joshua’s new reality. For the first time since 2015 when Fury ended Wladimir Klitschko’s world title reign and Deontay Wilder was already the WBC champion, Joshua is staring up at his foes.
It is not unassailable for Joshua, despite Fury and Wilder needing less than three combined rounds to dispatch their most recent opponents. The quality of his rivals must spur him on. A placid Fury victory at the weekend would not have lit a fire in Joshua’s belly. Perhaps now, there is one.
Schwarz, an opponent with a significantly less notable resume than Ruiz Jr, was not able to expose any holes in Fury’s game but that does not mean that none exist. Fury has been on his floor before, not just against Wilder, and Joshua knows this. Fury has got up every time so far but unbeaten records among the heavyweight elites have rarely seemed so vulnerable as they do in the days after Joshua lost.
That is something for Joshua to use as inspiration but, for now, it is Fury who has the right to crow. In this ever-changing landscape, how long will that last?