Arriving in Germany as a 4-1 underdog, unbeaten heavyweight contender Tyson Fury finally had the fight he himself had said a number of times he would never get. It was Fury’s challenge of heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko, the man who had been on top for a decade, who had beaten all comers since losing in that bizarre and exhausting fight with Lamon Brewster back in 2004.
But Fury felt Klitschko would not fight him, that “Dr. Steel Hammer” was afraid of him and would avoid him. On this matter at least, Wladimir proved Fury wrong, this by virtue of fighting him in Dusseldorf on the evening of November 28, 2015. It was Klitschko’s 68th pro fight. It was Fury’s 25th pro fight.
In the lead up to the fight, Fury alarmed Klitschko and possibly convinced the champ he was crazy, by turning up at a presser dressed as Batman and then proceeding to roll around with a stooge who was also wearing fancy dress. Klitschko simply didn’t know what to make of it all (it has of course been a most effective psychological weapon: one fighter making his opponent think he was crazy – see Ali-Liston for perhaps the most famous example).
What would happen when the two men got into the ring? Well, as it turned out, not a whole lot. At least not in terms of punches thrown or landed. Klitschko was almost painfully frugal with his punches, either choosing, or being forced, this due to fear of something big coming back – to throw hardly anything. Fury wasn’t that active himself, yet he did throw out more leather (according to punch stats, Fury landed 86 punches, with Klitschko landing a paltry 52 punches). It was, though, Fury’s feinting, his herky-jerky style of movement that so befuddled Klitschko.
The odd time Wladimir did get home with his vaunted right hand, Fury was able to take it fine. The fight was no classic, in fact try watching it right the way through once again today and chances are you will either doze off or turn it off. But the enormity of Fury’s win was deservedly the big talking point afterwards. Fury’s combination of height, reach, speed, defensive ability and, most likely, his pre-fight getting into Klitschko’s head, got the job done. Fury was the new king by way of a unanimous decision.
Soon after, all hell broke loose. Fury was swiftly stripped of the IBF belt he had taken, he was, in his opinion, hounded by the media, and then the 27-year-old suffered from terrible depression. Fury piled on a ton of weight, he didn’t fight for two and a half years. There was supposed to be a rematch between Fury and Klitschko, yet it never happened; and as a result those Klitschko fans who maintain Wladimir had an off night against Fury and would have put things right in a rematch, were never proven right or wrong.
A lot has happened in the life and career of Fury since that big night of five years ago; the fight and win Fury says he will always place at the top of the list in terms of his career highlight. We saw a great comeback, with Fury shedding something like 100 or more pounds in weight and then beating up the feared Deontay Wilder. Fury has boxed just six times since giving Wladimir absolute fits, this due to his enforced layoff and now, the legal battle with Wilder – will there or won’t there be a third fight. But 2021 could, should prove to be a big year for Fury. We all know what we want, and that’s an all-British showdown for all the marbles, between Fury and Anthony Joshua. Even a win there will not top the Klitschko win, not for Fury it won’t.
Despite the fact that Klitschko was nearing his 40th birthday, not too many people were giving Fury a chance five years ago. But Tyson Luke Fury made a proud, long-reigning, all-conquering heavyweight champion look like nothing. And that sure takes some doing.