FOR a few shocking seconds on Saturday night, Tyson Fury’s World Heavyweight Title dream looked over.
Morecambe’s Great White Hope was caught flush on the jaw by a devastating overhand right from Neven Pajkic and toppled hard on his back like a fallen tree. It was a heavy knockdown, the first of the undefeated Fury’s career.
But the 6ft 9in British and Commonwealth Champion was quickly on his feet. And within minutes, Fury landed his own clubbing blows to send Pajkic to the floor and end the fight.
As Fury raised his telescopic arms into the air, the relief was palpable among his supporters who’d packed Event City at Trafford Park to hail their hero’s return to his old Manchester stomping ground.
Two large TV screens flanked the ringside area so the crowd could watch Channel 5’s live coverage of Fury’s Commonwealth Title defence against the unbeaten Pajkic.
They cheered Tyson’s pre-fight interview from his dressing room, where he vowed to be too fast and too good for the plodding Canadian.
But once the bell rang, these words looked hollow. The fans’ cheers were replaced by a worried hush and gasps whenever Pajkic connected.
Although Fury enjoyed huge advantages in height and reach, his usually reliable left jab was sporadic and sluggish.
The rugged Canadian Champion had little trouble forcing the two stones heavier Brit to the ropes, where he whaled away with both hands to shade the first round.
Then in Round 2, Fury walked right onto a perfectly-timed Pajkic right and crashed on his back.
The charismatic giant was up at the count of four.
His legs looked strong and his head seemed clear, but he still had to take another hard right as he tried to smother Pajkic’s crude attacks.
Round 3 saw Fury suddenly spring to life. He let both hands go and held Pajkic around the waist as he thumped home a series of right crosses.
Pajkic stumbled to the floor but looked dazed as he beat the referee’s count.
Fury let loose with a barrage of punches and Pajkic went down again.
After Tyson unleashed another heavy combination, the referee stepped in.
Pajkic, now 16-1 (5), protested the stoppage but was surely on his way to being knocked out and can have no serious complaints with the decision.