Tyson Fury was always destined to be a boxer. The rest of his family have names like Peter and Hughie, more associated with rabbits and guys who bring you the news in musical form than men who make their livings destroying the faces of other men of a similar weight, but Tyson – that’s a name you give a guy who is going to be a fighter.
He might have been destined to make his career in a ring but could fate hand him a world title in Dusseldorf on Saturday? Standing in his way, of course, is Wladimir Klitschko – a man who hasn’t been beaten in over a decade.
Fury has alluded to a belief that Klitschko is scared of him more than once but I doubt even he really thinks that. I reckon the only person that scares the champ is his tiny and ridiculously hot fiancée, because everyone is a bit scared of the Mrs – it doesn’t matter if you’re a rank average writer struggling to scratch together enough money to eat or the heavyweight champion of the world.
That said; why did he never fight Nikolay Valuev? Or even Shannon Briggs (who still wants a crack)? I don’t know, there are a few theories out there, but boxing is a strange world and the way it works at the moment is the top dogs get to avoid the guys they really don’t want to take on, until it becomes impossible.
Think Floyd Mayweather Jr for example, he dodged Manny Pacquiao until he was way past his prime and signed off against Andre Berto, again a few years too late. I don’t really blame Mayweather, he was old himself he just wanted that 49-0, he’d paid his dos against the likes of De la Hoya, Marquez and so on earlier in his career. Strangely, I see Wlad as basically a heavyweight version of Pretty Boy at the end of his career, no real razzle dazzle, any desire to entertain long gone, but technically superb – and really fucking hard to land a clean shot on.
Granted he did fight David Haye, but he didn’t really fight David Haye. Haye isn’t a natural heavyweight, having unified the cruiserweight division before stepping up, a fact many seem to ignore when they talk of the returning Londoner nowadays. Klitschko had a big height and reach advantage and stayed at range for the majority of that fight, picking him off with jabs as the smaller man tried to find a way in – to me he never really had any intention of knocking Haye out, there was no way he was going to risk a hayemaker coming in.
But now he finds himself fighting Tyson Fury, who is somewhat of an enigma in the ring despite his 24 fights. The clownish behaviour, the Batman imitating, the pseudo political ambitions and the sauna story, which I’m still not sure I fully comprehend, it’s all a smokescreen whether he realises it or not – my suspicion is he does.
I’ve watched loads of Fury fights and I have no idea how he’ll approach this. He says he needs a knockout to get a win in Germany, basically Klitschko’s home arena, but maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll stay at range and use his longer reach to maximum effect, like he did to Dereck Chisora – twice.
In the second Chisora fight he switched to southpaw for long periods, as he has done in other fights, he’s a better boxer than people give him credit for – the man comes from a long line of traveller fighters and if you’ve ever been lucky (or unlucky) enough to see some of those guys firsthand you’ll know they’re about as tricky as they come, there’s no way that isn’t in his locker. He has a 24-0 record with 18 KOs but the vast majority of those stoppages are TKOs or his opponent has retired – essentially his relentlessness rather than sheer power has forced his opponents into submission, they’ve been ground down by the size and weight he possesses or they’ve subconsciously (or even consciously) thrown in the towel as they can’t get a knockout and know they have been beaten in every round.
If he does go for the knockout can he get it? Wlad has been taken down before by Lamon Brewster and, prior to that, the late Corrie Sanders – a hero both in and out of the ring. So it isn’t impossible, but I just don’t see Fury as a guy who can land one killer shot and take Klitschko out, Sanders sent him down four times before he was awarded the win so it could well take more than one and his game’s changed since then, the defence has become almost impregnable.
If Fury does go in for some big shots you would imagine Klitschko will get a few chances to land some blows himself, certainly to the body and if he’s lucky he might open up the chin. He’s got faster hands than you’d expect, Haye conceded that after their clash, and gets stoppages most of the time, with 16 in the last 22 (since the loss to Brewster) and 53 in 67 overall.
Height has become a big factor in this fight and it could work both for and against Fury. On paper he’s got the advantage, but Klitschko’s speed could count for more against a bigger man and we’ve not seen much of that in recent years, as he hasn’t really needed it. Fury has fought guys the size of Klitschko fairly recently, in the shape of Nicolai Firtha and Neven Pajkic, but they were nowhere near the same standard and the comparison or whatever experience that gave him perhaps isn’t worthwhile.
Maybe it comes across that I don’t really like Klitschko here but that’s not really true, I do like him as a guy and I respect him hugely as a boxer but he’s never really entertained me. Like most I’d like to see him beaten at some point just to shake up the heavyweight division a bit. I’m not a purist, I do put the spectacle ahead of the technical standard but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate that he is a master. I give Fury a chance, not a huge one but he could do it. He’s surprised me before – the first time he beat Chisora for one (Fury was the bookmaker’s underdog, just) – and I wouldn’t necessarily bet against him doing so again on Saturday.
The general consensus is a Klitschko win, probably by KO. Fury is an outside bet by any method but the KO is considered the more likely. Most, it seems, aren’t expecting this to go the distance. I’ve got a funny feeling Fury may attempt to outwork and outbox his older opponent this weekend though, whether it will work or not is the big question.
I had hoped to work my way to some kind of conclusion but I’ve ended up more confused than I was when I started out. My head is telling me Klitschko will stop him, perhaps even quite early, which is how I felt when the bout was confirmed but the beauty of the sweet science is you never really know. Come 10pm on Saturday in Germany it will just be the two of them in a ring, having the most honest conversation two men can have.
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