Tyson Fury v Wladimir Klitschko: Greatest Hits
November saw Tyson Fury defeat heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on points to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF belts. Right now the world of boxing is primed for the rematch: currently postponed but on the cards for later on this year.
So how do these two fighters compare? Especially given he’s on home turf this time around, does Fury have the re-run in the bag? Here we’ll look back at each boxer’s greatest hits. We’ll also review what’s been happening in each camp since November for any clues on what to expect…
Head to head: who’s the greatest on paper?
Klitschko has turned 40 since November. Anyone who thinks he might be past it need only look back at the likes of George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins, both of whom won or recovered their belts when well into their 40s (the latter beat Tavoris Cloud when he was 48).
With 64 wins (53 by KO) and four losses to his name, the Ukrainian has one of the most impressive records of any heavyweight in history. In terms of longevity as a champion, he was second only to Joe Louis.
Klitschko might have the pedigree, but of course, that counts for little in the ring. The big question is over whether he is now to be regarded as a faded giant.
Following his amateur career, the British/Irish Mancunian made his professional debut in 2008 when he appeared on the undercard of a Carl Froch fight. On that occasion, he beat the Hungarian, Bela Gyongosi to launch a run of 25 wins out of 25 (and counting). 18 of those wins were KOs.
While David Haye was the underdog when he met Klitschko in 2011, the Brit’s speed and power made him, at the time, the most viable pretender to the crown. After such phenomenal hype, the fight itself proved to be a workmanlike one-sided affair: Klitschko dominated throughout to come out overwhelmingly on top in a points decision. Technical ability, stamina, a killer ramrod jab: the bout underlined all of the qualities that made Klitschko a champion and served to cement his position as one of history’s greatest champions.
“The best fight since Ali beat Liston” was how Tyson’s uncle and trainer, Peter Fury summed up his nephew’s win in November. Exaggeration aside, Fury kept his nerve in an intimidating arena, took the first three rounds and demonstrated a combination of tenacity and guile, even after a punishing fourth and fifth round when the tide could so easily have turned. Yes, he may have come up against his fair share of journeymen in the past - but this was the moment where he proved he could beat champions, too.
The outlook for the rematch: revenge - and possible retirement?
One big question is whether Fury’s heart is in it this time around. He has spoken of his disillusionment with the sport - and not long after the Manchester fight was arranged, he took to Twitter to announce that it would be his last one. Peter Fury has a different take on this: laughing off the idea, and claiming that his nephew will be around for a long time yet, not least in order to cement his reputation.
It’s also difficult to work out how Fury is progressing on the training front. At the April press conference (where he said that he “hates boxing”), he also took off his shirt to demonstrate just how much weight he had piled on since November. He does appear to be training though: it was a running accident in the Lake District that caused the sprained ankle that has led to the fight originally arranged for July to be postponed until October.
Klitschko, predictably, speaks of revenge. At his press conference following the rematch announcement (but before Fury’s ankle mishap), he took the opportunity to mock Fury’s controversial ‘social commentary’ before summing up his game plan: “I will knock Tyson Fury out. Period.”
Yet as we’ve seen, Fury’s original win wasn’t a fluke: nor was it a ‘close shave’ in the end. Objectively, it was a comprehensive points victory by an on-form fighter over a veteran opponent. If Klitschko was to overturn November’s outcome, this would almost certainly go down as his “greatest hit”.
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