Almanac Boxing: Bigger than big – The Fighting Fury

 

TYSON Fury – that’s Tyson as in Mike, the old king of heavyweight boxers after whom he was named, and Fury, as in a raging force – is possibly the most appropriately monikered sportsman on the planet.

 

He is also one of the best at what he does, one of the most entertaining, almost certainly the most colourful, probably the biggest in at least the physical sense if not necessarily as in “the greatest” —  and well on the way to becoming one of the wealthiest.

 

Certainly, he got his share of my 60 bucks so that a couple of guests and I could watch via pay-for-view – oops, I mean we could have and would have if that hadn’t been severely frowned upon by our saviour and protector, Dictator Dan  – as he destroyed Deontay Wilder in the third and last chapter of their spectacular trilogy.

 

And we all would have agreed that it was the best heavyweight fight in memory, unless you want to go all the way back to the days of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and company.

 

It was a compelling mix of brutality and bravery as two of the heaviest hitters ever seen knocked each other down twice before Fury finally finished it with a crashing blow to the head that felled Wilder a third time, all of which would have dismayed those who believe boxing is barbaric and should be banned. Which, for better or worse, is never going to happen – and that’s fine by me because I’ve always been fascinated by it.

 

Fury, 33, is the personification of why. You don’t necessarily have to admire everything about him – and he does have his rough edges, to say the least — but there’s no denying the magnetism of his powerful presence.

 

The Irish Gypsy King’s 11th round tko doesn’t quite make him the undisputed king of the heavyweights – traditionally, one of the most coveted and valuable crowns available across the entire spectrum of world sport – because its for the WBC title only, with boxing bible Ring in furious agreement.

 

The only real argument is on behalf of  Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, 34, unbeaten in 19 fights and who holds the WBO, WBA, IBF and WBO crowns since his recent demolition of Briton Anthony Joshua, who has insisted on a rematch in March. Whichever way that goes,  Fury will be waiting in order to unify the division for the first time since Lennox Lewis held all the belts 21 years ago.

 

If he does that, stand by for debate about whether he’s not just the best in the world now – but the best ever. The GOAT. In fact, it’s already cranking up.

 

 

You won’t catch me joining in, if only because I grew up in awe of he who truly was the The Greatest and who will be forevermore, the one and only Muhammad Ali.

 

Admittedly, nothing lasts forever – although we’ll all grow very old waiting for someone to unseat Don Bradman as the best cricketer ever, for instance – but Ali’s pre-eminent place in posterity has never seriously been challenged, in my opinion, since his last fight 40 years ago or his death in 2016.

 

Searching the internet, it didn’t take long to find expert confirmation of what I was wanting to hear, with American writer Anthony Stitt declaring: “Only a deranged fan-child would believe Fury to be greater than Muhammad Ali.”

 

Why so, Anthony? Discuss.

 

“Fury has beaten two marquee fighters in Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko. Ali scored 11 wins over six different Hall-of-Famers. And two of Ali’s victims, Joe Frazier and George Foreman, are boxing immortals,” he writes.

 

“But this is the compelling tidbit: Fury’s record (31-0-1, 22 Kos) is nearly identical to Ali’s (31-1-0, 22 Kos) at the same point in Ali’s career. But then ‘The Greatest’ went on an incredible 24-0-1 run during the golden era of the heavyweight division, with the only loss coming in a split decision defeat by an absolute destroyer, Ken Norton, whom Ali beat twice.

 

“Beyond their records, other similarities between Ali and Fury cannot be denied. The unparalleled footwork, the masterful cutting of angles, the impervious chin, and an Einstein-esque boxing IQ – it’s those skills that defined Ali and define Fury now. And just like Ali, Fury owns a fighter’s greatest intangible – the ability to rise off the deck and win a fight.

 

“But none of this means Fury is the GOAT.”

 

Perhaps hedging his bets a fraction, Stitt adds that Fury’s greatness is “becoming more and more indisputable and the case could be made that he is the No 3 heavyweight in history” – No 2 being Joe Louis. And it is possible, he says, that if Fury does unify the title, he could leapfrog the Brown Bomber. But never Ali.

 

Like all boxers, Fury is not shy about talking himself up but this is one argument he is, very sensibly, staying out of.

 

“I’ve always been one of those people who’d say I can’t fight anyone from the past, so I’d never disrespect anybody (by saying I’d beat them),” he said. “I can only beat whoever is in my era and I’ve done that all my life.

 

“It’s fantasy, not reality. I can only beat the best of my day and I’ve done that. I’m the best fighter of my era. I’m a one in a generation fighter. I feel sorry for those guys who have to fight me.”

 

As well as being such a formidable warrior, Ali was, of course, a showman, a fascinating personality, instantly recognisable anywhere in the world.

 

But Fury is also hard to beat when it comes to sheer colour, a sportswriter’s dream subject.

 

His Gypsy background is one thing, his physical appearance another. It is frightening. He stands 206cm (6’9”) and weighed in at 124kg for the Wilder fight, his red beard, shaved skull and implacable stare adding to the aura of intimidation and danger.

 

Four years ago he blew out to 178kg – that’s about two ruckmen in one enormous frame – because, battling a few mental demons, he admits he was drinking 20 beers a night with whiskey and vodka chasers, snorting cocaine, and gorging on pizzas, kebabs and chocolate – the breakfast of champions, as they say. He then lost 63kg of it as he got back into fighting shape.

 

He and his wife Paris have six kids, mostly exotically named – Prince John James, Venezuela, Prince Adonis Amaziah, Valencia Amber, Tyson Fury II and Athena.

 

He gets around in style with a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Rolls Royce and a Land Rover in the garage of his enormous mansion.

 

And at the end of every fight – like a pantomime villain suddenly revealing himself to be the good guy — he serenades the fans from the middle of the ring while his vanquished opponent has little choice but to sit and listen, provided his ears have stopped ringing.

 

He might not be the new Ali, exactly, but for entertainment value he’ll do until we get one – and I’ll have my 60 bucks ready for his next appearance.

 

 

Two books will be published in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  as will the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season (title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries  HERE

 

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Comments

  1. Excellent Ron. This was one of the best fights I’ve seen for many a year. The best because it was beautiful boxing, mixed with raw courage, and yes, some brutality. Fury is a ripper. He mixes power with cunning like the great fighters too. Balance. The balance that boxers keep under fire is quite extraordinary.

    There will be the usual chorus of boxing is brutal and should be banned. Blah, blah, blah. Ignore it. These contests are arguably sport at its best.

    When asked who are the bravest athletes I have three – boxers, big wave surfers, and jockeys. They all face their own dangers. And they’re all beautiful to watch in action.

    I’m not really into the comparing of sporting giants because context is everything. Joe Louis is arguably the greatest. But Fury is the best modern boxer I think I’ve seen. In the heavy weights anyway.

  2. Bravest athletes? Interesting talking point. No argument with your three but I’d have road cyclists somewhere in the mix, at least those who are prepared to go flat-chat on mountain descents wearing very little protection and often with nothing to prevent them leaving the road and plummeting into space.

  3. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for this Ron.

    Fury is certainly an exciting presence in a heavyweight division that these days, overall, isn’t what it used to be.

    I wonder how Ali at his peak would have dealt with this 6 foot 9 inch giant – I can’t help but think he would have found a way to prevail, primarily through ring intelligence and speed. That said, it is basically impossible to compare sportsmen from very different eras – however, it is always tempting to speculate.

  4. Tyson Fury, undefeated after 32 bouts is one hell of a fighter. I was looking forward to reading this article.

    However a few paragraphs in I saw the term Dictator Dan. The tone was set. No point reading any more.

    I’m aware of this rubbish in the murdoch media. After contributing to this website for over a decade, I’d hope for better. Sadly not in this case.

  5. Best heavyweight bout for many a year.

    Congrats to the two combatants. They not only provided a great contest,
    but also brought plenty of respect back to heavyweight boxing.

  6. Hayden Kelly says

    Good read Ron ,great fight . Comparing eras and who would win is fraught with danger particularly given physical evolution . Not sure John Nicholls would have handled Max Gawn but I agree Muhammed like Bradman will stand the test of time .
    i did enjoy your note about what you might have done if Dan had given you permission as it’s exactly what i might have done or probably did do .

  7. Fury has amazing reflexes and is an incredibly good boxer for a man of that size. His jab is like GGG’s. (Needs to lose a couple of pounds, but so does Dan Andrews. Just joking Glen!)
    But that said, Wilder is one of the most ungainly big men ever to hold a title. His legwork is street level, virtually always off balance, until he gets set for that one big right hand he has ridden to glory. Sadly for him that right hand has meant he hasn’t had to learn a lot of other skills. So when he meets a man he can’t knock out, he’s clueless.
    As well, in this fight he was over-muscled and gassed out pretty quickly. But, my goodness he has some heart. They both do. Wilder made more fans in this loss than most of his wins I reckon.

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