Big upset, bad fight: Tyson Fury outpoints Wladimir Klitschko
Can a fighter clown his way to the heavyweight championship of the world? He can if the defending heavyweight champion doesn’t throw any punches.
That’s what happened on Saturday when unbeaten challenger Tyson Fury out-hustled Wladimir Klitschko over 12 sloppy and lackluster rounds in Dusseldorf, Germany, to earn THE RING, WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles by scores of 116-111 and 115-112 (twice).
It was a historical upset given Klitschko’s near 10-year title reign and impressive streak of title defenses (third all time behind Joe Louis and Larry Holmes) but it was not a fight to remember.
Fury (25-0, 18 knockouts), who threw a total of 371 punches and landed only 86, according to CompuBox, did very little. However, Klitschko (64-3, 53 KOs), who threw 231 total punches and landed a dismal 18 power shots, did even less.
As far as heavyweight championship bouts go, Klitschko-Fury was the exact opposite of Ali-Frazier, Holmes-Ken Norton and Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe. There was no sustained offense from either fighter. There was no ebb and flow in the action. There was very little action, period.
Most observers blamed Klitschko for the lack of fisticuffs (but it says here that it takes two NOT to tango). What was wrong with him? Did the 19-year pro get old? Was he distracted by family happenings (the birth of his daughter, his actor-wife Hayden Panettiere’s battle with postpartum depression)?
Maybe it was just a case of styles making fights. (Or in this case NOT making fights.)
Credit must be given to Fury, a 27-year-old Englishman of Irish and Roma descent, for boxing the right fight against the defending champ and future hall of famer.
Fury’s herky jerky boxing style, which included a lot of feints from the outside and lateral movement, nullified Klitschko’s long-range offense from the start of the fight. Klitschko was content to patiently stalk Fury during the first half of the bout, but he did not let his hands go while doing so. Fury didn’t punch much, but he managed to pot shot the 39-year-old champ while doing his share of “schucking and jiving” (mugging with his hands down, but also using head- and upper-body movement to befuddle the odds and home-arena favorite).
Whenever Klitschko was able to get in punching range, the Ukrainian grabbed and held rather than work on the inside. Fury didn’t throw many punches when in close (in fact, most of his close quarters shots were illegal rabbit punches, which cost him a penalty point from referee Tony Weeks in Round 11).
Less than 10 punches – combined – were landed per round over the first half of the bout.
Klitschko, who had lacerations around both eyes, was visibly frustrated during the second half of the bout. He simply could not get any offense going against his tall (6-foot-9), rangy and supremely confident challenger. Fury, on the other hand, was completely relaxed between rounds and very comfortable with the slow pace that he dictated during the fight.
Roy Jones Jr., who was part of the HBO commentary crew that called the fight for the U.S. broadcast, perfectly summed the bout up by declaring “This is a case of the better fighter not having the better fight plan.”
Klitschko needed to do a lot more than he did in order to hold onto his titles. He tried to go on the attack down the stretch of the bout, but every time he nailed Fury with a hard right cross, the bigger, younger man smacked him back with a sweeping hook.
The result was the upset of the year for 2015.
It wasn’t entertaining or dramatic, but fans might get that from Fury next year. The new heavyweight champ possesses a polarizing personality. If the measured and mature manner of Klitschko bored many casual boxing fans, they’re going to love (or love to hate) the uncensored wackiness of Fury.
Hardcore fans will appreciate the Englishman’s willingness to challenge himself, his undeniable self confidence and his underrated boxing ability — all of which helped him lift the heavyweight championship of the world.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer