Tyson Fury: The Furious One
By Navi Singh: We told you so. Now Tyson Fury has emerged triumphant from his highly-anticipated heavyweight showdown against Wladimir Klitschko, with a unanimous-decision victory in Dusseldorf.
In a sensational win for the underdog, that has left many who were predicting an upset feeling thoroughly vindicated (myself included! ), Tyson Fury wrested the WBA, WBO, IBO, and IBF championship belts from the 39 year-old Ukrainian’s grasp with a magnificent performance.
Klitschko, who was chasing Joe Louis’ record as the longest-reigning heavyweight champion and was undefeated for eleven years prior to this contest, was unable to establish his trademark jab in the manner that he has been accustomed to, against such a dangerous and awkward opponent who was constantly poised to counter with sharp jabs.
Controversy preceding the contest came in the form of a heated dispute between the camps regarding the amount of foam-padding that was situated beneath the ring, which Team-Fury alleged was a clandestine attempt to reduce Fury’s in-ring movement and mobility. Thankfully, this situation was resolved several hours before ‘kick-off’, at the expense of several fights on the undercard. Despite Team Klitschko’s evident bemusement and disdain towards Fury’s pre-fight antics and trash-talking in the months leading up to the big bout, the champion himself, a consummate professional, remained imperturbable and deadly focused. No-one (apart from myself, and a select few ) could have predicted what was coming next.
The opening rounds were a cagey affair, with neither fighter ostensibly dominant throughout the early proceedings. Tyson Fury himself began in uncharacteristically tentative fashion – presumably because of the sheer magnitude of the occasion – eschewing the blistering combinations that have become something of a hallmark of his recent victories in favour of quick pot-shotting whilst operating on the back-foot and drawing Wladimir in.
Many were expecting Wladimir to start extremely aggressively by pressuring Fury from the outset, and cutting off the ring against his bigger opponent. As a result, many were also expecting this fight to be a relatively quick and explosive encounter, similar to how Lennox Lewis eviscerated Michael Grant. However, Klitschko eventually became unstuck when confronted with Fury’s stinging hand-speed and unorthodox movements and instead resorted to his usual methodical techniques, attempting to intelligently manoeuvre Fury into vulnerable positions against the ropes where he could unleash his devastating right hand.
Intermittent displays of aggression and showboating from the upstart challenger further disconcerted the experienced champion, who was notoriously reluctant to become embroiled in an exchange with his in-ring counterpart due to his self-confessed ‘glass-chin’. Klitschko’s noted propensity for boxing on the outside from an upright, safety-first stance instead of trading with his opponent ultimately became his undoing, as Fury’s unconventional style and superior reach effectively took away Klitschko’s ability to control the range through consistently pumping out the jab; his key asset.
It was almost a reversal of roles. Klitschko was the one who froze up, so to speak, whereas the challenger’s heart, determination and imposing ring-generalship enabled him, quite frankly, to make a mug of the heavily-favoured champion at particular points in the fight. It takes a very special fighter indeed to deliberately drop his hands in front of one of the most concussive punchers on the planet; more so to put his hands behind his back and encourage the heavy-handed Klitschko to try his luck.
The fight became gradually less competitive down the stretch, as Fury looked increasingly comfortable picking Klitschko off with crisp, clean counters. Klitschko, apparently aware of the fact that the either fight was too close for comfort or that he was trailing on the scorecards by a decisive margin, attempted to press the action somewhat in the final couple of rounds but could not find a suitable opening to detonate his potentially fight-ending right-hand. Klitschko, a conservative fighter, is not the type to spontaneously throw wild, wide haymakers. Rather he is used to stringing two or three punches together in powerful combinations, using the lead jab as a foundation, against largely one-dimensional opponents who are considerably shorter and slower than him.
In this case, Klitschko was outjabbed, outfought, outfoxed, outboxed, outclassed and outworked by the switch-hitting, prodigiously talented Mancunian. This is primarily to Fury’s credit as opposed to Wladimir’s shortcomings, because the negation of Klitschko’s jab meant that he could not set up any other power punches.
It was a comprehensive victory for Fury and one that will irrevocably change the face of the heavyweight division for years to come. The current scene looks more exciting already, with numerous British contenders on the horizon. Fury and his team will no doubt be keeping an eye on the December-12 grudge match between the prodigiously talented Anthony Joshua and his former amateur opponent; the brash, pugnacious and dangerous Dillian Whyte.
The winner of that will probably assert themselves as a future opponent for the Wythenshawe native. A rematch with Wladimir is probably on the cards, due to contractual stipulations. Fury also has unequivocally ruled out any possible future bout with David Haye, as two scheduled fights with the Londoner astonishingly failed to materialise in 2013 and 2014. However, Tyson Fury facing off against the notoriously hard-hitting WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder would undoubtedly be a tantalising prospect to unify all the major belts and determine the undisputed heavyweight king. Fury also suggested last year that the heavy-handed Australian puncher Lucas Browne would be one of his voluntary title-defences, if he was to become a world champion. Amazingly, he has also hinted at a third fight with Finchley slugger Dereck Chisora, who has recently signed with the German-based Sauerland promotional company. We shall see. Fury remains, as ever, unpredictable and capricious.