They’re calling Tyson Fury’s victory over Wladimir Klitschko one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing but I’m not so sure.
Some have said it is the biggest upset since Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston but in my mind the biggest shock since that is Leon Spinks’ win over Ali, so there you go.
Fury went into it undefeated in 24 fights for one thing. Sure, some of the guys he’s beaten in the past aren’t necessarily big names but you can only take out what’s in front of you.
But what next for the new champ? David Haye has piped up, so has Deontay Wilder, but first there is the small matter of a rematch with Wlad.
I’ve heard a few people, the BBC for one, suggest the dethroned king could call time on his career at 39 and decide against using his rematch clause. I would be amazed if that happened.
Champions are not defined by how they win – everyone wins the same – they are defined by how they lose. Not my words, the words of Chris Eubank or a bastardised version of. Klitschko hadn’t lost for over a decade, he defended his titles over 20 times, he’s come back from defeats before and there is no way on this earth he’ll want to go out like that. No. Way.
What did Ali do when Spinks beat him? He went back and outclassed the rookie. I’m not saying that will happen here, nor am I comparing Fury to Spinks or Klitschko to Ali, but the former champ has the option of a second bite of the cherry and he’s going to take it.
My own theory is Wlad completely misjudged Fury, he didn’t expect those tactics, probably anticipated a fairly straightforward win and quite clearly he had no plan B. I thought he might try and work the body a bit but nope, he went upstairs every time and Fury was hip to that jive, constantly moving his head, ducking in and out of range and countering quickly and accurately. Few people predicted a points win for Fury, or that he’d even attempt to outbox the Ukrainian (I did incidentally, take a look at my preview…), and Klitschko himself seemed to expect the challenger to come out swinging.
The press, in Britain particularly, are taking it almost as a given that Fury will win the rematch but that could well be the real test. He had the element of the unknown on Saturday but that won’t be the case next time. Klitschko is a superb boxer, he’ll come up with a new plan and he won’t make the mistake of underestimating the British star the second time around.
Wlad got beat by Fury but he didn’t get beaten up; it was a tactical fight and he’s won contests that have physically drained him more, hell he’s probably had more draining arguments with the cheerleader from ‘Heroes’. I’m taking nothing away from Fury by saying this – he made Klitschko look average at best – but in terms of the physical toll on both fighters it was pretty minimal.
Klitschko has until January to activate the rematch clause but I reckon his mind is already made up, and he’s probably already thinking of a way to crack the Fury puzzle. Fury can win again, maybe using the same tactics – just because Wlad will have a new plan doesn’t mean it will work – but it could be a lot closer this time.
Fury and David Haye were supposed to meet in 2013 but the latter had to pull out. The ‘Gypsy King’ has now said there’s no way he’d give Haye a payday, he’d rather vacate his titles yada, yada, yada. The initial date in 2013 had to be put back due to a cut that required stitches and the second because Haye needed shoulder surgery. Publicly at least Fury blames former WBA champ Haye for those cancelled contests but what actually happened was the Londoner was told to give up by doctors, in all fairness he probably shouldn’t have come back now if he wants the use of his shoulder for the rest of his life but he has, so he is an option.
I’m going to suggest that Fury really does want to fight Haye, probably quite badly. I doubt he’ll duck any opponent – and an all British clash with the ‘Hayemaker’ would be a massively lucrative bout. This ‘no way’ stuff is all smoke and mirrors, he’s making the 35-year-old wait and work for a shot and why not? Fury is the deserving champion and if he wants to make Haye sweat a bit that’s his prerogative.
The big question is how good is Haye now? He’s been inactive for a while, and it remains to be seen if his shoulder issue is behind him or not. If Haye is the same fighter he was when he beat Nikolay Valuev and lost to Wlad this could be a cracker, if he isn’t he might not be able to get into a position to face Fury anyway.
I’m not convinced about Deontay Wilder personally. Yeah, he holds the WBC belt and has 35 wins, 34 KOs and no losses, but he’s not really fought anyone of particular note.
Wilder is right to say the WBC strap is the “crown jewel” of boxing and the “most respected” title, technically at least, but that jewel has needed a good polishing since Vitali Klitschko retired and vacated it and the only way he can do that is by taking on someone of real quality.
The guy was as quiet as a mouse when Wlad was the champ, but now Fury has taken his titles he wants a unification contest?
Maybe he thinks he can beat Fury, he has got punching power but I’m not sure he’s got the tools or the skills. It looks like he’s been well protected by his team, who kept him well away from Klitschko, and if he took on Fury it could be a Jeff Lacy against Joe Calzaghe scenario. Fury himself has suggested he isn’t that keen on a Wilder showdown (although his trainer and uncle says he is) but he’d take it if he gets through a rematch with Wlad, the temptation of unifying the heavyweight division would be too great to resist.
Another British option, and Anthony Joshua would be a massive step into the wilderness for Fury or indeed anyone who takes him on. The 2012 Olympian has 14 fights, 14 KOs and a total of just 22 rounds as a professional – not much to go on for any future opponents, other than he’s got some real power. The Joshua camp probably want him to face someone who is going to take him into the later rounds before they line up a Fury bout but if he keeps putting them down he is going to get a world title shot. Personally I’d like to see Joshua take on Wilder for the chance to face the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO king, but I doubt the American would go for that.
There are other contenders such as Kubrat Pulev and Ruslan Chagaev so Fury has a few options, first though he’s almost certainly going to have to beat Klitschko for a second time.
*Seven hours after this article was published Wladimir Klitschko confirmed he will use the rematch clause.