Four Years Ago Today, Tyson Fury Battered Deontay Wilder In What Might Go Down As His Peak Performance

By James Slater - 02/22/2024 - Comments

For a fighter who shouts out louder than loud that he is the greatest of all time, Tyson Fury has a pretty thin resume with which to back it all up. So say the critics. And Fury has his share. It was on this day in 2020 when Fury might just have given us his finest performance, his career-best display.

Going into his return fight with Deontay Wilder – the two having battled to a draw in December of 2018, with Fury pulling off a stunning rise from the canvas in the final round – Fury told everyone he would go right at Wilder and he would knock him out. People mostly laughed or scoffed, putting this bolder-than-bold declaration down either to Fury’s sense of humor or his sheer bluster.

But, with new trainer Sugar Hill Steward passing on some Kronk magic, Fury was as good as his word. How ruthlessly one-sided was Fury’s hammering? While the world was shocked, Wilder was sent into free-fall, the seemingly endless list of excuses the monster puncher came out with in an effort at explaining his defeat making a ton of headlines. But Fury, who licked the dripping blood from Wilder’s damaged ear during the X-rated beatdown, looked for all the world like not only the best heavyweight in the world at the time, but maybe one of the best ever.

But what followed?

Fury, on top of his game at age 31 and with a now 30-0-1 record, had plenty of experts from numerous eras starting to believe he was a special heavyweight, one who would have ‘lived in any era.’ Maybe. But we will never know. Why? Because instead of capitalizing on his flawless win over Wilder, Fury was absent from the ring for some 20 months, and he never looked anything like as dominant again when he did return.

Yes, the third battle with Wilder was thrilling, but had the bell sounded a little sooner than it did after Fury twice hit the deck in heavy fashion in the fourth round, well, who knows? Fury recovered to stop a gutsy Wilder in the 11th round of a terrific slugfest. And then? Fury gets due respect for doing away with his WBC mandatory, the made-for-him Dillian Whyte. But since that April 2022 win, Fury has boxed just twice.

Fury gave us the utterly pointless (and ultimately hard to watch) trilogy fight with Derek Chisora, and then Fury got the shock of his life against boxing debutant Francis Ngannou. Again, it’s not an entirely impressive resume that Fury has, and four fights done since four years ago is just not enough for a primed and peaking heavyweight king. Certainly, it’s not enough for a man who bellows how he is the best ever.

So, have we seen the best of Fury? Will that brutal beating of Wilder go down as his finest showing? Plenty of people have said Fury has declined since that night of four years ago, and for sure, Fury looked poor against Ngannou. Then, amidst talk of Fury getting beaten up and dropped (maybe even stopped) in sparring ahead of his, we’re-still-waiting-for-it-to-happen unification showdown with Oleksandr Usyk, the fight was off. Fury was cut.

But what happens when (if) this fight happens on the new date of May 18? Has Fury still got the stuff he showed four years ago, or have his ‘legs gone?’ Has Fury lost the heart and stomach for fighting for greatness? Did Fury’s wins over Wilder, a banger of the highest order but a one-trick pony all the same, serve to flatter Fury?

There are indeed plenty of questions to be asked heading into (we hope) the Fury-Usyk clash. As have there been numerous questions asked about Fury since the magnificent showing he thrilled us with four years ago today.