What next for World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury?
Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) became the unified heavyweight champion of the world on Saturday night with a shock unanimous points victory over Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Despite rows over gloves, hand wraps and the ring canvas which threatened the cancellation of the fight, both fighters entered the ring ready to do battle.
Fury dominated the first five rounds with his movement, switch hitting style and connected much better with his punches than the champion. Klitschko was subdued, he seemed to have his vaunted right hand cocked ready to throw at any time but he never pulled the trigger.
In the fifth round, a cut opened up on Klitschko’s eye, an indication that Fury was dominating proceedings. Klitschko was probing with his jab, but seemed overly cautious, lacking any commitment to throw his punches when in range. Perhaps Fury’s herky-jerky style was more than he could handle on the night.
In the ninth round, Klitschko connected with a right hand that wobbled Fury but the challenger retaliated with a left hook that opened another cut on Klitschko’s forehead.
By the twelfth round the fight was slipping away and Klitschko needed a knockout to win. It didn’t happen. The final round was indicative of the entire fight, Klitschko clinched and held at close quarters before throwing a solitary right hand which was taken well by Fury who jabbed and danced his way to victory.
The judges scored it 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111 in favour of Tyson Fury, the new heavyweight champion of the world.
…but what next for Tyson Fury?
Wladimir Klitschko has confirmed that he wants a rematch. His brother the former heavyweight world champion; Vitali Klitschko, told Boxing News, “My brother shocked me because I know how good Wladimir is.” He continued, “I know what Wladimir is capable of…I know his strength but I couldn’t see anything of that tonight in the ring. Maybe it was a bad day, maybe there were other reasons. We’re going to find out.” There are any number of potential reasons for Klitschko’s poor performance.
Maybe Fury’s size advantage proved too much, perhaps he still had a niggle left over from the calf injury or perhaps his partner; Hayden Panettiere treatment for postpartum depression weighed heavy on his mind during his preparations. Whatever the reason, a rematch seems imminent.
…If Fury wins a rematch, what then?
When Fury defeated Klitschko on Saturday amongst the many titles he captured was the WBA Super World Heavyweight title. The WBA can designate a champion in any weight division as a Super Champion if that fighter makes between five and ten defences of their title or if they hold unified titles. It allows for more time for fighter between titles defences, given the fact that they have to defend more than one world title.
The biggest hurdle for Fury going forward is keeping the world titles unified. In his post-fight comments Fury said he would rather vacate one of his titles than potentially defend it against former heavyweight champion David Haye. Fury has never forgiven Haye for twice pulling out of scheduled fights with him.
Haye is planning a return to the ring against the WBA’s number #10 ranked contender, Mark de Mori in January 2016. If he is victorious then we could see Haye eventually climb the rankings until ultimately he would have earned his right to a world title shot.
The scenario calls to mind the infamous 1992 press conference where undisputed heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe dumped his WBC belt into a trash can rather than defend it against Lennox Lewis. Bowe was subsequently stripped of the title and Lewis was crowned the new WBC heavyweight champion.
Going forward Fury will have to ensure he is fighting regularly and making successful defences of his WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO titles. In the case of unified champions, the governing bodies usually agree a challenger between them for certain defences. That may mean Team Fury have less say in who he picks to fight.
Potential future opponents for Tyson Fury may include; the former WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs, the undefeated hard punching Cuban; Luis Ortiz, the heavyweight division’s danger-man Alexander Povetkin or the apparent heir to the heavyweight crown; Anthony Joshua, to name but a few.
When the Klitschko brothers dominated the heavyweight division, they developed a habit of fighting regularly, making mandatory defences and keeping the sanctioning bodies happy. This is the biggest challenge for any unified champion.
There is also the potential for a unification bout with American Deontay Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs) who holds the WBC heavyweight title. Wilder has been quietly defending his title for the last year in his native Alabama but since the result at the weekend he has stated he would be willing to travel to Britain to face Fury.
There is a world of opportunity out there for Tyson Fury, but in some ways winning the title is the easy part, keeping hold of all the titles is the real challenge.
Credit must be given to Fury for going to Germany and winning the title. He may not be everyone’s favourite fighter but he has done something that no other fighter has done for some time now. He has created some much needed drama in the heavyweight division.