You know the best thing about the brilliant Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder fight? Not that I was right when I wrote in my preview that Wilder would have to work behind the jab to set up the big right hand. And that even if he managed it, that wouldn’t be enough
That was nearly the best thing.
The best thing was in round 2, when it was clear from the concentration and methodical feel that Fury was working out the new Wilder work. That’s a brilliant boxer. That’s a true champion.
A Different Wilder
Yes, as expected, Malik Scott had set Wilder up to fight differently. He used his jab, which is not a ramrod smacking into the face. It’s more a pest to stop opponents doing what they wanted to do and acted as a range finder to set up the right hand.
And he used it. More than many thought he would.
He also used his speed. Wilder is not as slinky and speedy as Usyk, but Scott made him use his feet to move, even to stick and move.
And he did it early too, turning it on in the very first round and using another feature he promised, those jabs to the body, which were scoring punches
The first round ended with Fury just reminding Wilder what he could do as he winged in a right hand which connected.
Wilder’s Work Wins The Day?
It may have had more chance if Wilder had stuck to it. But he didn’t. The movement didn’t continue in the same way, Fury seemed to spend round 2 working Wilder out and then decided to rather smother him.
What Wilder did manage to do was connect with those right hands, he went close in the 3rd. There was a nice counter shot in the 6th and a lot more, oh, a lot, lot more, but more of that in a while.
And Wilder allowed Fury to drag him into his game, making it a bit of a shootout in the 3rd, which is when Wilder leant into a right hand to the side of the head, stumbled against the ropes briefly and went down. They were both trading when this happened, both on the front foot and you can’t do that with Fury.
The Clinch Game
Wilder’s trainer Malik Scott has talked about the clinch, an art which heavyweights can utilise to achieve an advantage. Those who love the Klitschko brothers should marvel at their clinch game which unsettles opponents. It breaks the flow of their work and makes them start again. Plus saps the energy and the spirit. In fact the former champs could be called the, wait for it, the Clinchko brothers. Yes, I did do that.
As the fight ground on, it wasn’t Wilder that used the clinch game. Oh, the Bronze Bomber might have held on sometimes becaue he needed to, but it was Fury who enfolded him, pushed down on him, used his bulk and bullied him. And he was lucky to have a referee who allowed them to fight out of them. Those clinches made their mark. It was a weapon. Fury made it his own.
Being tired out, knackered, exhausted, helps to bring on danger later in a fight. Wilder looked plumb tuckered out later on. That hastened the end and prevented Wilder from continuing the movement he started the match with.
Fury can seem a little slow, lumbering even. He isn’t. It’s working towards his game plan. The Gypsy King is indomitable. Unshakeable. And that constant coming forward, mixed with the feeling that this man is some sort of cyborg who just can’t be put down for a ten count, that can hang heavy on an opponent, sap the spirit. It can make a man seem spent before he’s out of gas.
He just keeps coming. I can’t stop him. Must try harder…
Fury’s Self Belief
Tyson Fury is a wonder. He has oceans of belief in his own ability. There are few pugilists like him. He appears to make a decision about his actions –
I’ll get up off the mat
I won’t be beaten
And just does what he says he will do. It sounds so simple. And yet it’s the most difficult thing a boxer can do. As I wrote in the preview piece, boxing is partially a confidence trick that fighters play on themselves. Boxing is a dangerous and sometimes deadly sport and those who risk their health in it need to be absolutely sure of their abilities. But some boxers have extra reserves of faith, self belief, certainty. Lennox Lewis was one. Usyk is another. Anthony Joshua, in my view, doesn’t possess it. Of all those men, Tyson Fury is perhaps the strongest of all of them.
And that works for him fantastically well.
In fact, in this match, considering the battle they were engaged in, it was extraordinary to see Fury in the 7th and 8th round with more certainty that he was on the right track and even a spring in his step. I can believe I’ve just written that.
How do you argue with a man who is so sure he is right?
This is what people want. Isn’t it? Well, not all of us but there’s always that visceral thrill.
There were 5 and one touch down which was not counted by referee Mora, that’s a goodly amount and they seemed crushing.
Wilder first, leaning into a right hand and wobbly, then Fury down twice in one round, the 4th, a right which no one could have seen coming and then rather a fall than a knockdown, helped on his way but less from a single punch than the after effects of that Wilder right.
And then by the 10th when Fury was hitting Wilder cleanly, a sickening thud on the side of the head and a remarkably clean punch by Fury in the 11th to end it.
These were big, hammering blows and the kind that shiver that is felt to the very nerve endings and carried for days. It was wonderful and horrible to watch.
And the terrible toll of knock downs was seen in Wilder’s responses. He virtually hopped up after the first knock down, but the later ones took their toll, the mouth open, the eyes glazed, the slightly missing sense of where he was. Little pieces of him were left on the mat each time he hit it.
Even Fury, that remarkably clear-headed boxer, was down twice and the second time from the cumulative effects of Wlder’s right hands.
Fight Of The Year?
One of them. Remember, there was a heavyweight performance just as good from a Mr O Usyk recently. That was a fantastic display of boxing. This was a no quarter given battle.
Wilder came to fight. Fury always does. That made it a fight for the ages. Wilder varied his approach, Fury didn’t always handle it and he got through with many crunching rights. Fury landed twice as many punches as his opponent, but Wilder had him in trouble.
They traded with a sense of recklessness, defence was a thing of the past half way through the match, Fury had Wilder on the ropes in the 7th after a doubled jab steered him unto a right hand but Deontay came back with a 1-2 only to see Tyson eat them and crash in 2 big rights.
Oddly, the doctor was in the ring at the start of a phenomenal 10th and even thought the commentary team floated the idea of a hurt Wilder right hand, Fury landed the jab at will but Wilder would not stop throwing the right. Even at the end they were trading shots.
This was a battle of attrition. It was clean. It was clear. It was a full stop. And it was brutal. It wasn’t particularly technical, but it they meshed so well and had such a will to win, it was essential to see.
What Happens Next?
Fury won’t be drawn on anything. Gareth A Davies asked about retirement. There were questions about the 2 next opponent options, Usyk or the winner of Dillian Whyte and Otto Wallin, but he rightly pointed out that after the last fight, he just got on a plane the next day and went home. He wanted a few beers. He wanted to see his family.
He’s in the catbird seat with nothing to prove.
Wilder? He refused to follow expected sportsmanlike protocol afterwards, apparently, causing Fury to describe him as ‘a sh*thouse’ and that won’t help him. I wrote in the preview that if he was knocked out badly in this fight, he might not want to scrabble up to the top again and might not even be able to get back.
He was knocked out badly. But he left the door open. He showed heart. He showed skill. He got to round 11. And a match with Joshua sounds tasty…
Fury is one of the best powerful heavyweights of his and any generation. Why is he so good? I don’t know. His fundamentals are sound. He’s a big puncher. But more. He’s awkward. He doesn’t come at you in the way you expect. He uses his unpredictable personality to gain an advantage. And then, in the ring, if he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next, how can his opponent. A singular, extraordinary talent. They some along once in decades.
What a time to be a boxing fan. What a fight. What opportunities for fantastic future fights.