Dillian Whyte put down his brutal marker at the onset of a huge heavyweight fight week in Britain.
That statement was writ large in so much blood that even as he called out America’s WBC world champion, he may have goaded Anthony Joshua into making a rematch with him next on his violent dance-card, after his title unifier with Joseph Parker on the coming Saturday.
Whyte claimed the position of mandatory challenger to Deontay Wilder by his six-round demolition of previously unbeaten Australian Lucas Browne.
The Brixton Body Snatcher makes much of how, as the survivor of a stabbing, he has been has saved from descent into gang life and probable death.
Well, there was much of the street in the sadistic manner with which Whyte beat Browne to a pulp.
The Big Daddy Aussie bears a resemblance to Ayrs Rock. Unfortunately he proved no more mobile than that landmark in his country.
Browne was brave beyond the call of duty but his face was reshaped into a blood-soaked gargoyle, with the red stuff flowing from his cut left eye, his nose, his mouth and a cheek.
It could, perhaps should, have been stopped before the sixth, so much two-fisted punishment did this virtual punch-bag take.
Whyte took that responsibity out of referee Ian-John Lewis’ hands with a final onslaught of almost a dozen meat-cleaver blows, climaxed by a pole-axing left hook.
Browne plunged face first to the canvas and there was concern as the medics sent for oxygen and a stretcher. After several silent minutes there was relief around the O2 as he waved it and sat up talking.
Browne was able to walk to his corner, then down the steps from the ring. But he sank gratefully onto the stretcher for the longer journey to his dressing room.
But Whyte’s hopes of an early world title shot are complicated by Joshua’s ambition of becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
That requires him to add Parker’s WBO belt to his IBF, WBA and IBO collection, then close out the deal by taking on Wilder.
The authorities will also have to weigh the lumbering inadequacy of Browne, who never threatened remotely to add a second defeat on Whyte’s record, to go with his solitary loss to Joshua.
A flurry of early KOs on the undercard meant lengthy gaps between fights.
A turn-out of 8,000 had been predicted and the O2 did indeed look less than half full.
But many of those in attendance kept their peckers up in the bars while waiting for the two big men to make their entrances.
It made initially for an atmosphere more congenial than raucous as all waited in hope that patience would be rewarded by the promised Whyte and Browne slugfest.
The all-night running of the Tube on London’s party weekends has taken some of the angst out of the lateness of the hour for boxing on the Greenwich peninsula.
Even so, the audience needed some reinvigorating for the main event. Michael Buffer, the American granddaddy of ring announcers, was the man to get them Ready to Rumble.
Big Daddy Browne came in to a smattering of jeers. Body Snatcher Whyte got a home town reception.
Whyte was in need of improvement on his previous outing, against Robert Hellenius, on Joshua’s first Cardiff undercard. The left jab did look to be in better working order and that was enough to give him a cagey first round.
The Whyte right hook came into play in the second and promptly opened up a cut by Browne’s right eye. As more came from that direction Browne tried to laugh off the punishment but he was much to slow to take evasive action.
With only the occasional exception of right from Browne, the one-way traffic continued in the third, with the eye worsening.
Browne was painfully ponderous and Whyte was hitting him at will now, with big lefts as well as rights. It already looks as if the Aussie’s only hope would be a one-shot knock out.
Browne’s face was a mask of red, with blood flowing from his nose, mouth and cheek as well as that left eye. Whyte continued to work him over but Big Daddy was nothing if not tough, strong and extremely courageous.
There was already a case for a stoppage but Whyte took that duty out of the referee’s hands at the onset of the sixth. Another unanswered barrage of blows culminated in a murderous left hook which sent his challenger plunging head first to the canas and in need of urgent medical attention.
The medics sent for a stretcher but after several minutes Browne waved it away and sat up talking. There was relief all round as he was final able to walk back to his corner.