Posts Tagged With: Tyson Fury

Giants of the Times

Image result for nikolai valuev

A lot has been made in the past week of Tyson Fury’s return to Trump-style communication, that is, harassing people on Twitter without using factual statements.  He used this strategy before with Klitschko, and it worked.  He got his shot at the title, and the big lazy manic-depressive actually pulled it off somehow.  He won.

Hey, it shocked me too–but now people who claim to know boxing are making a big deal about Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder avoiding Fury.  They treat a potential rematch between Klitschko and Fury as a foregone conclusion, that Klitschko will lose.  I’m pretty puzzled as to why anyone would feel that way.  Have you not been following heavyweights for the last 11-14 years?  Because that’s how long the Klitschko name has adorned the top of the division.  Sure, it was a lackluster era for the heavies, but the same was said about Floyd Mayweather before he started fighting Cottos and Pacquiaos.  While the first fight between Fury and Klitschko was one-sided, the sheer absurdity of the circumstances (Fury sang “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” after his victory) made it clear that a rematch would be worth seeing.  Joshua-Klitschko will undoubtedly be less exciting to watch than that fever dream was, but it brings gravity and competition back to the division.

We have to keep in mind that Wladimir Klitschko turned 41 a few weeks ago while Tyson Fury is still only 28.  The older Klitschko gets, the less he’ll be able to compete with any young, large, skilled opponent, and the more likely it becomes that his successor will be just another pudgy Russian or technical Slavic fighter whose name will fade as quickly as it appeared (we’re looking at you, Ibragimov).  Remember Nikolay Valuev?  Do you remember how big he was?  A 7-foot tall 330-pound monster with enough chest hair to weave a bathroom mat.   He lost to David Haye (a man with a 100 pound weight disadvantage) 8 years ago.  Haye went on to fight Klistchko just 6 years ago, and was humiliated, unable to compete on any level.  In other words: just because you’re the biggest, or have the biggest mouth, doesn’t mean you’re competitive.

Fury is slightly less bound by his lumbering physique than Valuev, but no more talented.  It should come as a shock to everyone if he manages another win over Klitschko, and an even greater shock if he gets a match and can even compete with the other two, younger, more talented, more physically impressive champions.  Joshua probably isn’t as skilled as Wilder, but both are so far beyond Fury physically that skill won’t be as much of a factor, if they ever meet him in the ring.  It’s certainly impressive that Fury managed a win over a Klitschko, at any age, and he did it while suffering from mental illness.  I’m not saying Fury got lucky, but there’s a reason no one expected the fight to go the way it did.  Just as it was for Lennox Lewis-Oliver McCall II, the rematch is a clean slate for the more talented, and more physically and mentally fit fighter.

That being said, Joshua and Wilder are no small potatoes themselves.  I would expect either of them to handle everyone in the heavyweight division easily, except each other and Klitschko.  There are others on the periphery; Luis Ortiz comes to mind, but then so do the allegations of doping and use of banned substances.  As far as I’m concerned, however well it was concealed, there’s as much likelihood that Fury was using PEDs leading up to Klitschko as there is that Marquez did leading up to the last fight with Pacquiao.  As far as Helenius and Price, the behemoths seemed to have a better shelf life than Fury, but have faded out of the picture so completely that it’s not worth speculating about the reasons why.

When Klitschko and Joshua meet this Saturday, expect a real test of Klistchko’s viability and his skill.  If he can get past Joshua or even put up a convincing fight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him solidly defeat Fury in a rematch at some point in the future.  If not, and they never meet, it’s very likely that Wilder and Joshua, in that order, will lead the division head and shoulders (no pun intended) above everyone else.

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Fates and Furys

In his recent interview with Rolling Stone, Tyson Fury came clean about the delays in the fight with Klitschko, and provided some insight into his state of mind.  This was just after having tweeted an announcement that he was retiring, and then retracting the statement, also on twitter.  Actually, words like “statement” and “announcement” are somewhat overly generous terms for the incoherent regurgitation he posted online:

Boxing is the saddest thing I ever took part in, all a pile of shit, I’m the greatest, & I’m also retired, so go suck a dick, happy days. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Then, just hours later…

Hahahaha u think you will get rid of the GYPSYKING that easy!!! I’m here to stay. #TheGreatest just shows u what the Medea are all about. Tut tut

So, ignoring the incomprehensibility of this thoroughly unsettling rant, tweeting something so strange and then hysterically retracting it hours later, especially when it concerns his career, ought to be enough indication that he’s in no condition to fight.  It’s almost redundant when, during the interview, Fury admits that the doctors diagnosed him with “…a version of bipolar.”  His followup, however, was far from redundant: “I’m a manic depressive. I just hope someone kills me before I kill myself.”  Whatever that is, it’s not redundant.  These disturbing, semi-lucid comments only confirm the kind of mental instability we’ve speculated about in the past.  Klitschko has made statements to the effect that Fury’s mental health issues account for his behavior since long before their fight in November of last year.  It was around that time, when Fury managed to defeat Klitschko, that even Fury’s own family made comments indicating that he was suffering from psychological issues.

The Fury camp claimed two setbacks that have delayed the rematch with Klitschko as being due to injury, but this interview reveals otherwise.  As if by some mysterious intervention of fate, the potential disaster of the rematch has been avoided, as after repeatedly testing positive for cocaine, and refusing to defend his championship, he’s likely to be stripped of his titles.  Most boxers probably sit somewhere below the threshold of ideal mental composure, but putting someone with serious issues in a ring with Wladimir Klitschko would be criminal.  With shades of the infamous Lennox Lewis-Oliver McCall rematch, Fury, in his current condition, against Klitschko, would be even more catastrophic.  Fortunately for McCall, he was in decent physical condition for the rematch against Lewis, and his immediate collapse signaled his opponent early enough not to use full force.  For Fury, it may not have turned out so well.

If, by some miracle, these events lead to the eventual signing of a legitimate opponent for Klitschko, then this embarrassment of the sport may serve some purpose.  For example, rumors indicate that a fight between Klitschko and American Anthony Joshua might be possible.  That would not only mark the long-awaited return of Americans to the top of the heavyweight ranks, but also the first exciting Klitschko match in years.  With Deontay Wilder also waiting in the wings, there is always potential for a rejuvenation of the heavies, but if Klitschko’s last 20 fights are any indication, the fights just won’t be made.  In all likelihood, Fury’s stain on the sport will be merely a shameful episode people reference less and less as time goes on, but maybe a power vacuum in the sport’s glamor division could be the catalyst for something positive.  We can always hope.

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Fury Fight Off Again

Still in recovery from the disappointment of the first canceled rematch between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko, fans are now enduring yet another delay, as Fury has presented a letter from his doctor stating that due to mental health issues, the fighter will be “unavailable for the foreseeable future.”

Now, beyond the obvious possibility that the out-of-shape behemoth only managed a victory over Klitschko by some stroke of luck, this delay is perplexing for many reasons.  For one thing, this will be the second time Fury has canceled the fight for health issues in about three months.  The first injury was probably legitimate.  After all, an overweight man who brags about not training wouldn’t be anyone’s top choice to survive a heavyweight-title-fight training camp.  But come on, who among us was familiar with Tyson Fury and thought he did not have mental health issues?  Wladimir has said that himself in interviews and at press conferences.  Dressing up in a five dollar batman outfit and knocking over a display table in front of the press doesn’t exactly speak to a person’s mature, stable demeanor.

Are we really expected to believe that this diagnosis by Fury’s doctor is some kind of revelation?  Even if it were, could it possibly be a coincidence that Fury has just now reached the absolute pinnacle of his career, or, more to the point, that not calling off the fight would mean putting his reputation on the line?  Fury’s accomplishments, up to the Klitschko fight, were minor and unimpressive, for a 7-foot-tall man, at least.  Now, he could lose all the respect and admiration in 36 minutes or less, if he can’t perform the way he did in the first fight.  He’s even been accused, along with his brother Hughie, of using PEDs.  So maybe the success against Wladimir was a direct result of doping, or maybe he needed the drugs to sustain his oversize frame and (probably) enlarged heart.  But all of a sudden, he has health problems that prevent him from fighting for the foreseeable future?

And how about that for phrasing?  “Foreseeable future” implies that the condition is serious enough that Fury may never fight again, much less return in time to fight the aging juggernaut who challenges his place at the top of the division.  At this point, Wladimir could hold on for a couple more years, with great success, but to give any meaning to that time, he would have to fight the biggest guy (physically) in the division.  If Fury did come back, and finally made the fight, and kept the date, he’d win or lose to man who had passed his prime a decade earlier.

Based on the tests of character, displays of talent, and the statements made by Fury in the past, it’s hard to believe that these delays are pure coincidence.  It’s not very plausible that his mental health issues were unknown up until this diagnosis, either.  We were all very impressed by the performance Fury put on during and after the match against Klitschko, but now we all have to face reality.  Turning one fight into a circus of novelty is one thing, but to associate the heavyweight championship with a farce is another thing entirely, one boxing fans won’t tolerate.  We won’t cater to his ego or his warrior mentality; we won’t acknowledge his accomplishments to soften the blow of this exposure.  Fury is a phony.  We suspected before, and now we know.

It’s not that there aren’t other interesting fights to be made at heavyweight, there are, but protected prospects will likely never meet a close-to-prime Klitschko.  We’ll have to wait for another cycle to run through before we get an active heavyweight scene again, and by then, we may have already said farewell to Klitschko’s glimmer of greatness.

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And then He Sang

This past weekend Tyson Fury dethroned an aging Wladimir Klitschko in a one-sided decision win.  Klitschko was number two in history for his title reign right behind Joe Louis, but he threw fewer than ten punches per round for most of the fight.  Klitschko hadn’t lost a fight in eleven years, but he looked like he didn’t remember the part of boxing where you keep your hands by your chin.  Klitschko was in impeccable condition, as he has been for all of the major matches in his 68-fight career, but he looked rattled when a lazy, looping hook from Fury grazed him occasionally.

Fury somehow managed to look almost impressive, with undeniably quick movement for such a huge frame.  He came in almost thirty pounds lighter than just three fights earlier, against Joey Abell.  It must have helped, because he seemed more ready to go the distance that I’d ever seen.  His punches weren’t voluminous, powerful, or accurate, but they were often well-timed.  He caught his opponent unprotected once when Klitschko spun around and expected the referee to stop the action.  After the fight, Fury, shockingly, was polite and almost humble.  His words in the post-fight interview were uncharacteristically cogent and logical, and he even claimed that all his antics leading up to the fight were nothing more than that.  He had won a fight against a superior athlete and, impossibly, he did it so convincingly that many people don’t expect Klitschko to win the rematch.  Klitschko has since exercised his contractual right to that rematch, and Fury has accepted for a date yet to be determined.

Fury had done all this in Germany and managed to even maintain a level of decorum, and then he sang.  One of the most outrageous and questionable claims of Fury’s maniacal pre-fight campaign was that he would sing a song after taking Klitschko’s championship.  After all that had happened, he kept his word, and sang “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” to his wife, and it was even romantic (on some level).  I don’t know what else to say.  Unexpected.

Tonight a much-anticipated fight between Daniel Jacobs and Peter Quillin will determine who moves ahead and who becomes a gatekeeper in the middleweight division.  While Quillin has faced marginally better opposition in his career, Jacobs is always a solid bet for an action-packed fight, and his heart and determination are evident every time.  I expect Quillin’s superior technique to make the difference early in the fight, with Jacobs struggling to get into a rhythm.  Quillin better have a good lead by the middle rounds, though, because if he gets too intimate with Jacobs after his own defense has loosened a bit, Jacobs’ expertise in achieving knockouts could be on display.

Manny Pacquiao is rumored to have set his final opponent.  Speculation is that he’ll choose either Amir Khan or Terence Crawford.  The former would be a good send-off, while the latter would be a challenge worthy of Pacquiao’s incalculable reputation.  Here’s hoping.

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There have been a lot of exciting developments in boxing in the last few months, but in this holiday season there’s one fighter who should be more grateful than anybody else.  Tyson Fury will get his chance to fight Wladimir Klitschko tomorrow, despite the fact that he hasn’t really overcome any impressive competition (the same could be said for most of Klitschko’s previous opponents).  In one night he’ll get a huge paycheck and more exposure than he ever could have hoped for otherwise, and all of it will come to pass because he managed to be one of the most obnoxious athletes on the planet for several years in a row.  Even topping David Haye for belligerent British blabber, Tyson Fury has spent as much time in the past few years saying something outrageous and provably untrue in front of a camera as he has training and fighting as a “professional” boxer.  The most professional thing about Fury is his size, actually standing three inches above Klitschko, and being the primary reason for his past success.  His technique is atrocious and his regard for the sport is similarly lacking.  People have so long been incredulous of Klitschko’s ability to take a punch, that a huge behemoth, no matter how obnoxious and undeserving, seems like a good opponent.  Many Klitschko opponents have seemed like they ought to provide good competition, but almost all of them failed.  In this case, fans are wondering if an aging legend might miss a step and get hit with the wrong shot from an enormous man who could stagger any normal heavyweight.  Unfortunately, being huge only marginally increases Fury’s chances of outperforming past Klitschko victims like Alexander Povetkin and Sam Peter.  Even if he were as skilled as these other fighters (which he’s not), Fury would have to get very lucky, and Klitschko would have to make a big mistake, similar to his fights with Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster.  At this level of the sport, technique and talent always withstand what the fervor and drama cannot.  Klitschko will walk Fury down and have little trouble landing, as Fury’s not known for head movement or defense, and Fury will run after he’s tried flailing at Klitschko’s head a few times.  Maybe after getting his payday, an undeserved spotlight, and a chance at a real title, Fury will be humble for the first time in his career and accept the superiority of the better man.  Klitschko can retire, satisfied that he silenced even the largest and most absurd critics, and Fury can fade into the melodramatic obscurity that his name implies.

Check out my Fight Predictions page to see my thoughts on the result.

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Things to be Grateful for

The long wait is finally over for Saul Alvarez, who this past weekend defeated Miguel Cotto and won a middleweight championship.  While Cotto, at 35, must reassess his career and reconsider his next move, there won’t be much change in his immediate future.  Having already reached his peak in the sport and enjoyed multiple high-level showdowns, Cotto’s only option was to strategically pick fights that would enhance his legacy until he met opposition he couldn’t handle.  Alvarez, as many fans expected, turned out to be that opposition.  Cotto fought well and, as famed trainer Freddie Roach promised, his legs were a great asset.  Alvarez was more accurate, powerful and had faster hands and head movement than Cotto.  Using his slick style, (only evident against certain opponents) Alvarez was able to execute Mayweather-esque moves, landing shots while almost simultaneously slipping one from his opponent.
If Cotto had won, on the other hand, Alvarez is the only person who would have been significantly affected.  With abundant criticism of his unbelievably one-sided loss to Mayweather, and even of his wins over top, but not elite-level opponents, Alvarez needed to prove that he wasn’t just a gatekeeper at 154 pounds.  Given his size (he routinely rehydrates to the size of a super middleweight), Alvarez needed to make a big statement in the division before time ran out and making weight cost him his ability in the ring.  Cotto, being a key name in the sport, presented the perfect opportunity.  Alvarez is now recognized as one of the top fighters in the sport both for skill and entertainment value, and with Mayweather’s transition to retirement, the new star is right on time.

This weekend we can look forward to seeing Wladimir Klitschko face an opponent of similar size, if not similar talent, in Tyson Fury, whose most famed accomplishment in boxing so far has been punching himself in the face.  His shameful ranting and immature antics (dressing up as Batman at a press conference) have made this the most interesting Klitschko fight I can remember since Vitali fought Lennox Lewis.  Let’s be honest, we all wanted to see David Haye knocked out, but it wouldn’t have been quite as satisfying as seeing an enormous man, actually larger than Klitschko this time and even with some distinguishable talent, shut up for once and all.  We have all that to look forward to, AND a big meal.  Happy Thanksgiving.

I also want to highlight the success of my former trainer Mike Tata, whose Friday Night Fights Gym in New Orleans has been featured in Sports Illustrated and is enjoying considerable success after a humble beginning.

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Klitschko Kitsch

This week Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko held a press conference to promote their upcoming fight on October 24th.  In boxing, heavyweights are the glamor division, even when the talent all seems to be gravitating toward the middle divisions, so it’s no surprise that promoters will from time to time resort to vaudeville-style tactics to draw interest.  WWE has made an industry out of this strategy, and as I pointed out in a recent post, the debate about Floyd Mayweather fighting Rhonda Rousey is similarly undignified in its appeal to fans’ primitive instincts.  Tyson Fury may have taken the game up a notch in the recent press conference, however, with a low-budget attempt at buffoonery seemingly meant to demonstrate some unapparent sense of humor.  Dressed as Batman, he perpetrated a battle between himself and his cousin, cleverly disguised as the joker, contriving a struggle to knock over the display of Klitschko’s championship belts.  Fury is always less than elegant in his interviews and in his general behavior, but this was a new low in sophistication even for him.  He proceeded to rant about his reign as a “Gypsy king” and how Wladimir had fought weak competition.  It goes without saying, but just so we’re all on the same page: Fury has 24 wins while Klitschko has 64; Fury has had arguably three or four notable opponents, Klitschko is within two fights of the record for most heavyweight title defenses in history.  These histrionics from Fury are no different from the transparent, vulgar bravado put on by David Haye, which quickly dissolved once they were actually in the ring together.

On the other hand, doesn’t this cartoonish melodrama surrounding Klitschko’s next opponent seem eerily familiar?  It wasn’t long ago that Dereck Chisora and Shannon Briggs were staging water-throwing fights with Wladimir in promotional altercations before their respective fights.  Throwing water was an odd enough choice for Klitschko’s previous opponents, but if Fury was going to do a little Batman sketch, couldn’t he have invested more than $20 in materials?  They looked like the costumes you end up with when you go Halloween shopping on October 30th.  Then again, maybe that was the intention.  It makes you wonder, maybe this is Dr. Steelhammer’s cure for a boring division and waning ticket sales.  It would certainly make sense if the well-learned champion took a page from the world of professional wrestling in order to boost interest in his fights, which have often been criticized for his technical style.  The formula sure seemed to work with David Haye, who no one really believed could beat Klitschko, but everyone thought would be satisfying to watch get knocked out after incessantly running his mouth.

Either way, the upcoming fight is sure to interesting.  In terms of physical contrast, Klitschko will be lean and solid, brimming with technical ability, while his gargantuan opponent, at 6’9″, will be flabby and sloppy.  It’s not often we see Klitschko fight a larger man, and while Deontay Wilder is only 6’7″, the Fury match could be a good model to predict how that fight would turn out.  It could also be one of Wladimir’s last performances, with his brother having already retired, and little desirable opposition left in the division.  The Klitschko legacy is totally secure, but it’ll be fun to watch the aging champion show what his years of experience and dedication have produced, and whatever theatrics might ensue, I’m looking forward to tuning in for The Klitschko Show.

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Objectively Subjective

I think every boxing fan likes to attribute qualities to certain fighters based on our interpretation of their personalities.  Sometimes we want the close decision to go to the guy who wasn’t as effective, just because we don’t like the other guy.  Grantland has put together a great article analyzing the top most-hated boxers and their personalities.  Among them are great examples of loudmouths, outside-the-ring villains, and just plain frustrating fighters, as well as an arguably perfect ranking system.


Two of my favorites are the video of Tyson Fury punching himself in the face, which we would all like to see more of, and a shot from the infamous interview with gold-grilled Adrien Broner.  The best example of bias interfering with my own judgment has to be the fight between DC-native Lamont Peterson and the much-reviled Amir Khan.  Khan had just recently abandoned his technique in favor of showy combinations that he hoped would sway the judges when his punches had little effect, and his claims of supremacy were only increasing.  Peterson rallied with such heart in the last couple rounds, taking control from what would surely have been a decision loss, that the inspirational performance sent the crowd into a frenzy that actually did sway the hometown judges, who awarded the decision to Peterson.

Mayweather-Maidana II is coming up in two days, so check out my prediction and comment when you can.

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Un-momentous Moments

The heavyweight division closed a chapter in two important fighters’ careers this week as it opened a new one for two others. American Heavyweight contender Tony Thompson put on a mesmerizingly adequate performance in his eagerly awaited rematch with Brit David Price, and loud-mouthed self-promoters David Haye and Tyson Fury signed a fight against each other. These fighters’ promoters would have you believe that these were both important fights that should keep your interest in boxing’s glamor division strong and consistent. I would beg to differ. While Thompson is a venerable heavyweight who plays a significant role as a gatekeeper in the division, the second knockout of David Price only serves to further denigrate the quality of the entire weight class. Why has a prime 6’9″ fit heavyweight been knocked out twice by a much older and less-than-athletic fighter? There’s a simple explanation that boxing fans love to start arguments about but which never yield much insight: the heavyweight division is in a slump.  There just aren’t as many exciting matchups to be made as there were in previous eras.  Usually there are big fights that disappoint, big fights that just don’t live up to the hype, and then the fights that never get made.  That’s just not the case with modern heavyweights.  There are no big fights.  None being made and none to be made.  The big news in the division is when one of the only two skilled heavyweights has a match against some unknown who will play punching bag for as many rounds as he can handle.  The next farcical exhibition will feature one of the imitators sold to boxing fans as a developing legend, Alexander Povetkin, taking on Wladimir Klitschko.

Price was an intriguing name because of his size, but the gaps in his skill set were always painfully obvious.  Thompson becomes more inconsequential and less fun to watch every day he ages.  David Haye was virtually unknown to American viewers until he began turning his press-conferences into episodes of the Jerry Springer show, challenging the Klitchkos and being as inflammatory and as obnoxious as possible in order to draw enough attention to get a fight he didn’t deserve.  Haye demonstrated how embarrassingly out-of-place he was from the beginning of their fight, staying far enough away that neither fighter could possibly mount an offense and running away ungracefully every time Klitschko closed the distance.  Alexander Povetkin is an unremarkable fighter to be generous.  His physique is less than impressive and his technique is even worse.  Tyson Fury has managed to use his automatic size advantage and unrestrained arrogance to worm his way into public view, but just like all the other names listed here, his opposition has been incongruous to his fame.  Even the success of Klitschkos is much more a product of size and power than of technical ability.  To be fair, the wars between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe owed little to technical prowess, and Mike Tyson was nothing but power and athleticism.  But let’s be honest, Wladimir’s statistical longevity and accumulation of successful defenses signify nothing as impressive as such distinctions would traditionally bestow upon their honorees.  Only two heavyweights surpass Wladimir’s title for consecutive defenses and years held: Larry Holmes and Joe Louis.  I wouldn’t deny the Klitschko’s abilities nor would I trivialize their accomplishments, but I don’t think statistics like that fool any real boxing fans.

The bright side is that while every era has boring divisions, every era also has some exciting ones with endless wars to be waged between talented competitors.  Today those divisions are probably between welterweight and super-middleweight, but it’s only a matter of time before boxing sees another batch of brutal big men go to battle.

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