Currently riding high after his quite magnificent stoppage win over Deontay Wilder this past Saturday, heavyweight king Tyson Fury does not say the February 22 win is the finest of his career. No, that distinction goes to his big November 2015 upset over the long-reigning Wladimir Klitschko. To Fury, that night will always be one he remembers with great fondness – how he went to Germany as a hefty (4/1) underdog, only to pull off the upset with a technical performance that though dull, was effective enough in getting Fury the decision.
But would Fury have done what he did to a prime Wladimir Klitschko? To quite a few fans, there was something not right with Klitschko when he fought Fury. Unable, or unwilling, to throw anything like enough punches, Klitschko looked terrible. Gun-shy, intimidated, you name it. But Wlad was 39 years of age at the time of the fight with Fury, he had been on top of the world since right back in 2006 and there were suggestions, whispers really, that said Klitschko had shown signs of slowing down, of being a little easier to hit, in his fight with Bryant Jennings, who he defeated prior to facing Fury.
Nothing can be taken away from Fury’s title-winning moment, but Fury was 27 years old at the time of the fight, Klitschko was almost 40. Had Fury met the 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013 version of Klitschko – the version of “Dr. Steel Hammer” that dealt with the likes of Samuel Peter, David Haye and Alexander Povetkin with relative ease – would he have had as much success? We will of course never know, but the timing of a fight, when it takes place with regards to where both men are at in their careers, can prove crucial. Did Fury catch a past his best Klitschko?
A rematch between the two never happened as we know, so it’s a mystery when it comes to whether or not Klitschko, having turned 40, could have come up with a game-plan suitable to avenging the Fury loss. But again, prime for prime, who would have won out of these two? Fury never hurt Klitschko in the 2015 fight, in fact, neither man generated anything big in terms of punches landed. It really was an odd fight, where Fury’s herky-jerky movement basically won him the decision. That and Klitschko’s odd passiveness when it came to throwing punches.
Fury got into Klitschko’s head in the run-up to the fight, of that there is no doubt. Maybe Fury would have done so against a prime Wladimir. Or maybe youth was served on the night of November 28th, 2015. It sure would have been great seeing Fury and Klitschko go at it when both men were at their peak. Fury took over from Klitschko, he was the young tiger and he defeated the old lion. The timing of the fight was indeed perfect for Fury. Indeed, Father Time might have been the unseen adversary Klitschko was fighting that night.
Or maybe Fury’s style, either the one he showed in 2015 or the one he showed in dismantling Wilder on Saturday, would always have been too much for Wladimir.