Tommy Fury once more overcame the challenge of a game YouTube fighter by claiming a majority decision win over KSI in a scrappy cruiserweight headliner at a packed-out AO Arena in Manchester.
Fury has concentrated on lucrative crossover contests in recent months, seeing off Jake Paul in Saudi Arabia in February and now dispatching British foe KSI to extend his record to 10-0 as a professional.
With brother Tyson, the WBC heavyweight champion, at ringside, Fury landed several eye-catching blows but the bout underlined the relative novice status of both combatants with multiple clinches.
Despite being docked a point for repeatedly punching to the back of KSI’s head while on the inside, Fury was given the nod 57-56 by two judges with a third scoring the contest 57-57 after six rounds.
KSI has built a substantial following on his YouTube page, becoming a successful entrepreneur and musician, while his Misfits promotion has sharply divided opinion between those upbeat about the fresh audiences being brought in and those who view the antics between raw fighters as an affront to boxing.
The build-up to the card has verged on farcical with unseemly insults flying amid the occasional brawl, which would have drawn short shrift with the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC). Instead its jurisdiction falls under the umbrella of the Professional Boxing Association.
The upsides were evident from the first bell of the evening with few spare seats to be seen and those that were vacant filled up long before Fury’s entrance after 11.30pm to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
KSI, who came into the arena in a green Lamborghini alongside rapper Giggs, might have been the away fighter but his fans roared in support when he landed a solid overhand right early in the first round.
Fury responded with a decent left hook but his habit of landing a few rabbit punches when the fighters were tied up led to him being docked a point in the second after several complaints from KSI, who brought the crowd to life with another winging right hand.
Londoner KSI, whose real name is Olajide William Olatunji, was proving elusive from distance as Fury attempted to establish a jab, but in the clinch the Manchester fighter followed up a couple of blows with a swift left hook, right hand that momentarily seemed to stun his opponent.
Fury was using his left-hand jab to try to set up his best work and another combination drew shouts of encouragement from his fans but by this point the fight had already descended into a scrappy affair.
The pair traded punches while on the inside in the penultimate round but spent much of the round being separated by the referee, after which Fury found a stinging couple of blows to end the fifth.
KSI, whose previous wins have been against fellow YouTubers, was still sprightly in the final round and did find Fury with another big right hand but his rival responded in kind, then followed up with a short left.
Fury climbed the ropes, raising a fist at the final bell, and his confidence was rewarded after the judges narrowly sided with him.
On the undercard, Logan Paul was awarded a disqualification win over mixed martial arts fighter Dillon Danis, who lost all of the first five rounds before shooting for a take down in the last three minutes.
Danis, who made his name as Conor McGregor’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sparring partner, was docked a point then attempted a guillotine choke in the final few seconds before tumbling to the floor.
Paul threw a punch on a grounded Danis, who ran straight at his adversary in retaliation prompting security to storm the ring. Because of Danis’ two infractions, he was disqualified.