by James Oddy
It’s often felt that the health of boxing is measured by the health of its heavy weight division. Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Ali, Frazier, Tyson and Lewis were all household names during their peak. They broke box office records and transcended the sport.
The Klitchko brothers, Wladamir and Vitali, have made the division their own in recent years. Perhaps they’ve alienated American and British audiences, but they’ve become icons in Germany and the Ukraine.
However, Vitali has retired, and one quarter of the ‘richest prize in sport’ is now in the heavy hands of American Deontay Wilder, the undefeated Olympian with outrageous power.
A towering presence, both physically and psychologically, Fury has exhibited deftness both in and put of the ring. His occasionally abrasive style with the press has attracted as many as it has repulsed, but his honesty about his talents, limitations and desires is always interesting. His interactions with his opponents can be respectful, funny, foul mouthed and intimidating, and more often than not a mixture of all of the above.
In the ring, his defeat of Derek Chisora, a good quality operator, at the back end of the year was startling. He dominated the Londoner from the opening round, switching stances for long periods, looking relaxed and sharp. Many claimed following the fights conclusion that Chisora was ‘shot’, but the Londoner gave the likes of Vitali Klitchko and David Haye all sorts of problems in the past, and was in superb shape. Yet he barely troubled Fury, who punished him with his excellent jab.
His knockout of Christian Hammer was expected but Fury again showed his versatility and high ring IQ, minimizing Hammer’s limited yet still dangerous skills.
As the number one contender to a portion of Wladamir’s belt, it’s hoped Fury could earn that shot at some stage this year. In doing so, he would become the first boxer from a travelling background to win a world title.
Aside from the historical significance, Fury could ignite a domestic scene already bubbling under were he to become a world champion. Anthony Joshua, the Olympian with Sky sports hype machine behind him, is already exciting even the most casual of fans with his athleticism and knock out power. David Price and Fury have history, and the Liverpudlian regarded by some to be the biggest hitter in UK boxing. Boxing fans have already seen a fight between the mercurial David Haye and Fury fall through twice, but it still has all the elements of an explosive and lucrative occasion. Chuck in the likes of Lucas Browne, comeback kid Dillian Whyte, a still game Chisroa and Fury’s nephew, Hugie, and the possibilities are endless within the domestic heavyweight scene.
There seems to be something of a sea change in boxing match makers thinking, Heralded by the Mayweather Pacquaio announcement. Fans want to see the best fight the absolute best- and over the coming years perhaps the UK will have the best of the best when it comes to heavyweights.