A boxing upset is one thing but to shock the world is quite another, Muhammad Ali did it, Buster Douglas did it, in 2015 Tyson Fury did it and in 2020 he did it again! Fury is a boxer who has polarised opinions for much of his career for his outspoken views and eccentric behaviour. After defeating Wladimir Klitschko and unifying the heavyweight division he was ignored by the UK public and scorned by the media. It wasn’t until pictures emerged of the bloated 27 stone former champion that scorn was replaced by concern.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine Fury revealed a harrowing battle with alcohol, drugs and depression that lead to him quitting the sport and almost ending his life. When he announced a comeback in 2018 it was met with a muted reception, on his day Fury was a world beater but to most it seemed his day had come and gone.
To the surprise of the boxing world in just his third comeback appearance he took on the WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Until that point his level of opposition had been less than impressive despite the padded records of Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta. Fury looked lean on the scales at 18st 3lbs but few gave him any real chance of victory. In what turned out to be an engrossing chess match Fury boxed beautifully on the back foot, making the champion miss frequently despite being knocked down mid way through the fight. As the contest entered the final round most pundits had Fury ahead.
What transpired has gone on to define the legend of Tyson Fury as a boxer and a man. Wilder hit Fury with a punch from the Gods and the Gyspy King rose up like a phoenix and went on to win the rest of the round. The fight ended in a split decision draw but by morning time in the UK all anyone could remember was that Fury got knocked down and Fury got up!
In the 12 months that followed, Wilder’s stock grew with two devastating knockouts over former adversaries Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz. Fury on the other hand looked to plateau, despite signing a multi-million dollar deal with Top Rank promotions he faced little known fighters Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin. His performances were mediocre and he was lucky to survive the Wallin fight for 12 rounds having suffered a savage cut over his right eye. Nevertheless Tyson Fury was still undefeated and there was a score to be settled with the Bronze Bomber!
The rematch was signed for February 22nd in Las Vegas and speculation was rife in the build up. Fury left trainer Ben Davison and replaced him with Kronk protégé Sugar Hill Steward which sparked intrigue amongst the boxing fraternity. Wilder no longer seemed fazed by the taunts of the lineal champion and proclamations of an aggressive knockout performance by Fury despite injury rumours left pundits with more questions than answers.
When both men tipped the scales over a stone heavier than their first encounter no one could pick a winner and the general consensus said; hearts want Fury but heads say Wilder.
Why oh why didn’t we learn to trust Tyson Fury the first time?
When the bell rang for the first round it was clear to see that it wasn’t all talk from the Gypsy King. He came forward with purpose, leaving behind the back foot tactics that aided him in the past and stuck it on the most feared puncher in the sport. Rounds one and two went to Fury and early on the WBC champion struggled to gain momentum. In the third round Fury turned up the heat with combinations, decking the champion in the last minute with a right hand to the side of the head.
Wilder hit the deck again shortly after but referee Kenny Bayless ruled it a slip. Three rounds in and Wilder, usually formidable began to look beaten up. The beating continued in round four as Fury piled on the pressure. Wilder desperately looked for an opening for the right hand but was unable to find one. As he slumped in his corner between rounds it was clear to see his bottom lip and left ear were bleeding badly.
The fifth round followed the same suit and even though Fury had a point deduction for hitting behind the head, there was a growing sense that it wouldn’t matter! Wilder hit the canvas again after a gut wrenching shot to the body. Lucky to survive the round the weary champion made his way back to the corner. As the sixth round began any hopes of a come from behind knockout began to dissipate, Wilder sought refuge on the ropes and was unable to muster a stance to throw any meaningful shots.
The writing was on the wall after the sixth round when Wilder’s corner looked to share their concerns with the champion rather than urge him on.
Like a true warrior he rose to his feet and made his way back for the inevitable beating to follow. Luckily for Wilder his corner saved him from himself and after taking a fierce straight right to the face in the seventh round they threw in the towel. Wilder protested, Fury celebrated and the second coming of the King was clear for all to see.
For those of us that doubted him, he made fools out of us all and proved that not only is he a masterful boxer but he is one of the great ring strategists too!
Fury completed the event by serenading the 15,000 capacity crowd to an in tune rendition of Don Maclean’s American Pie.
Are we witnessing greatness unfold?
One thing’s for sure there is a lot for to Tyson Fury than fast hands!
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