What next for the Gypsy King?

What next for the Gypsy King?

Evening all. I’m writing this tonight with the use of just nine fingers. The tenth, you will be wandering, is currently out of action after I cut it open on a broken wine glass over the weekend. It is still attached to my hand, just about, but for the time being it is about as useful as VAR. Several pints of blood and a couple of stitches later, all is now well, but please excuse the odd typo in this piece.

Now that the dust has settled on Tyson Fury’s stunning victory over Deontay Wilder, I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on that night and what might lie ahead for the Gypsy King as he sits atop the boxing castle.

On one of the most exciting sporting nights I can remember, the drama began before the fight had even begun. Fury enters the ring on a throne carried by gold bikini-clad women, singing along to the calm, soothing tones of Patsy Cline and blowing kisses to the crowd through his gloves. On his head, the lineal heavyweight champion of the world sports a plastic crown he picked up on a recent trip to Poundland. Fury is nothing if not a man of contrasts.

Then Wilder, the Bronze Bomber, arrives in a black costume, his face entirely hidden by a gem-stone encrusted mask, daggers dangling from the back of his neck. Rapper D Smoke leads the way to the ring, fist in the air to mark Black History Month. It’s hard to think of two more opposing ringwalks.

After trading jabs in the early moments, the fight was incredibly one-sided. In the third round, Fury dropped Wilder with a strong right hook to the temple. The American, already bleeding from the mouth and ear, got up but was never the same again. He moved sluggishly, slipping twice to the canvas as his legs lost their bounce. His punches – at their best capable of scything through opponents like a great white’s thrashing teeth – resembled the blades of a rickety windmill in need of maintenance.

In the fifth, he was knocked down again, this time by a left hand to the body. When does a heavyweight get dropped by a bodyshot?! He soldiered on for a couple more rounds, but his team eventually threw in the towel in the seventh, mercifully putting an end to an absolute battering. After the debacle of the first fight, when he was robbed of a clear victory, Fury vowed to take the decision out of the judges’ hands by forcing a stoppage this time around. As he led the crowd in an a capella rendition of American Pie, he had been true to his word.

Fury’s tactics were clear. Weighing in at 273 pounds, some 42 pounds heavier than his opponent, he was to impose his superior bulk on Wilder. From the first fight, it was evident that the Mancunian is by far the greater technician, and so all he needed to do was get Wilder on the back foot and negate the threat of the American’s right hand.

He achieved this to devastating effect, dominating with the jab from distance and sucking the life out of the Alabaman (and some of his blood) by leaning onto him when up close. Fury landed 82 punches to Wilder’s 34, with a higher success rate (31% to 24%), and was comfortably ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage. He utterly out-boxed, out-punched, and out-thought his opponent.

Ah, but Wilder only lost because his ringwalk costume was too heavy, right? I’m not going to give too much time to this claim, but you’ve got to admire his creativity. Its got to be up there with the most ridiculous excuses for boxing defeats of all time, right alongside Mike Tyson’s broken back and David Haye’s bad toe.

So where does this leave Fury and the rest of the heavyweight division? Well, I’m not sure there is much appetite for a third fight, to be honest. Fury has clearly won both so far and the second, in particular, was disappointingly one-sided. But it looks like Wilder is going to trigger that option, and he is always a threat with his raw punching power (provided he designs a slightly lighter suit this time).

Fury, however, is a better boxer and if he can keep his focus, he should beat the American again in the Autumn and in so doing pave the way for a unification bout with Anthony Joshua in London next year. What a spectacle that would be. Joshua, the good guy who always says the right thing against Fury, the maverick gypsy who has spent his life cast as the villain.

For what its worth, I think Fury would win that fight as well. He’s just such a good boxer, and when you throw in his size, its so difficult to see him being beaten. He has taken out two undefeated champions in Klitschko and Wilder, both in their own back yards. Joshua, meanwhile, showed his vulnerability in losing to Andy Ruiz and like Wilder, is uncomfortable on the back foot. Fury surely has the skillset to come out out on top.

A few years ago, as he was preparing his comeback after more than two years of depression, drug abuse and overeating, I wrote about why Fury is such a captivating figure. On the one hand, he is a bizarre, unfiltered individual who openly talks about how he wanks off seven times a day and plans to spend his winnings on cocaine and hookers. On the other hand, he is one of the best boxers in history with as much charisma as Ali.

Fury’s dad has called for his son to retire, and given his unblemished record, you wouldn’t blame him for calling time on his career at this apparent pinnacle. But I think there are a couple more ridges hidden on this particular mountain. I hope he sticks around for a few more years.

Right, that’s that. Hope you all have a pleasant Thursday. Back here soon with more.

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