If there is one thing we’ve learned about Tyson Fury “the Gypsy King” over the past few years, it’s that he is a man of his word.
In 2015 when Fury took on reigning unified world champion Vladimir Klitschko, no one gave him any credit. He subsequently made the famously clinical Ukrainian look tired and slow, beating him by unanimous decision and claiming his world titles. After taking 30 months away from boxing and dealing with depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, he announced his return.
Again, no one took him seriously – until he thoroughly out-boxed the infamously hard hitting WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder throughout most of their thrilling 12 round fight in December 2018. The only reason the fight was controversially declared a draw was because Wilder knocked Fury down twice – but those knockdowns only served to prove the Manchester-born fighter’s determination.
Boxers, fans and pundits alike were in awe as to how he managed to get up from the second knockdown, with Frank Bruno quipping “I would rather be hit by a bus than by Deontay Wilder.”
Now this year, on Saturday night, Tyson Fury proved his doubters wrong once again. After the ferocious demonstration of Wilder’s punching power in their last bout, as well as his brutal knockouts of Gerald Washington and Luis Ortiz, many did not think Fury would make it through this time. Fury however, roared back at his critics that Wilder would have to “nail me to the canvas to keep me down” and promised to KO his opponent within the first few rounds.
In a move which puzzled many he also replaced his trainer Ben Davidson with the Detroit-based Sugar Hill Steward, who is well known for training boxers to deliver knockouts.
Although he didn’t get the early victory he’d set out too, the “Gypsy King” still stuck to his word – he completely demolished Wilder over their 7 round battle, ending the Bronze Bomber’s five year reign as WBC champion and delivering him his first loss in 44 fights.
Fury came out the aggressor, something Wilder isn’t used to as most of his opponents have started out defensively, wary of his powerful right-hand.
Although Wilder was able to land a few big hits of his own, Fury completely overpowered and dominated him, striking him repeatedly with lightning fast and hard hitting punches. In the third round, a left-right combination from Fury sent Wilder to the canvas.
From then the knockout artist from Alabama was unable to regain any momentum, slipping before the end of the third round and being sent down by another powerful combination from Fury in the fifth. By the time Wilder’s corner threw in the towel in the 7th round he was barely throwing any punches back at Fury, his legs were buckling and blood was pouring from a deep cut in his ear and mouth – which at one point Fury licked from his neck while in the clinch.
This bizarre mid-fight movement was likely part of the psychological strategy Fury had been following before the match even started. Once he stepped into the ring it was clear he was in the best shape he had been in for years, and towered over Wilder – who for the first time in his unbeaten career looked nervous.
Fury now holds the WBC heavyweight and lineal titles and his record stands at 30 wins and 1 draw, with 21 wins by knockout. He has proved he is fast, powerful, a master of both defensive and offensive boxing and has a granite chin.
What will happen next in his career is very unpredictable, however. Most boxing fans want to see a unification fight for the undisputed championship with WBA, IBF and WBO titleholder Anthony Joshua, which would arguably be the biggest heavyweight match since Lennox Lewis beat Mike Tyson in 2002.
However, Deontay Wilder has already stated he wants a third match, and the WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte is also a potential contender, whilst Joshua could have to dealwith Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev. Regardless, the variety of talented fighters and potential matchups prove that the heavyweight division is the most exciting it has been for almost two decades, and the coming years should be just as thrilling for the sport.
Image credit- ITV.com