One of the most exciting aspects of boxing is the potential for unpredictability. When two trained fighters are throwing punches at each other, there is no way to know for certain what is going to happen.
So at the very least, we can say this much for Tyson Fury’s unanimous-decision win over long-time heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko this past weekend in Germany: It was unexpected. Klitschko had been one of the most dominant heavyweight champions in history. If Fury was going to win, the conventional opinion went, it could only be by a stoppage. The champion had lost three times in his career, all more than a decade ago, and all by knockout.
But almost nobody could have predicted that Tyson Fury might beat him by decision, winning round-by-round, over the course of the entire fight. Yet that is exactly what the new champion did.
I was one of the vast majority who picked Klitschko to win with ease. Still, in retrospect, Tyson Fury’s victory is not an utter shock. Great, but aging, champions have lost shockers in the past. It’s a perpetual narrative in the sweet science. Boxing is brutal, and sometimes a legend can seem to age before your very eyes.
Klitscko certainly looked old against Fury. The story here isn’t a great performance by the new champion, but rather a terrible one by the old. Klitschko, who is always cautious, was downright meek. He moved poorly and refused to pull the trigger to his famed right hand. He fell into his old habit of clinching, again and again, even as the fight was slipping away and he needed desperately to force space to unload.
Fury unquestionably deserves some credit in all of this. The brash young champion out-hustled Klitschko all night. His jab was the far more effective tool and he used it consistently to throw off Klitschko’s timing and rhythm. He fought an awkward fight and Klitschko seemed to have no answers or ability to adjust.
But it tells you everything about this fight that the most entertaining moment of the event was Fury’s in-ring, off-key serenade of his wife, after the bout was over.
Ultimately, though, Fury’s victory should be good for the division and good for the sport. Simply having some young blood at the top of the heap at heavyweight is refreshing. And the prospect of Fury vs. the rest of the young crop is certainly more interesting to think about than the matchups with Klitschko would have been.
How would Fury do against Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC strap? A domestic rivalry should quickly develop with Fury vs. 2012 Olympic champion Anthony Joshua, who I believe is the best young heavyweight in the world. And Fury’s old, erstwhile rival David Haye has been talking comeback of late, as well. Perhaps the two Brits will finally fight after all.