After months of confusion and anticipation, it was finally announced that Tyson Fury would defend his WBO, WBA and IBO World Heavyweight Championship’s against Wladimir Klitschko. It will take place in Manchester on July 9th, almost nine months after Fury defeated Klitschko over in Germany, becoming the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Having held the belts without any problems for almost a decade, the Ukrainian super-athlete was expected to comfortably retain his Championships in that first fight, with nearly every betting outlet and expert predicting Klitschko would prevail on points. But the Britain boxed a very smart fight, dancing around the ring, using his significant reach advantage to stay out of Wladimir’s range and picking off shots when they presented themselves to eventually claim victory by a unanimous judge’s decision.
Despite Fury’s convincing win in the first fight, and this second bout being held in Tyson’s home town of Manchester, early prices suggest the pair cannot be split, with most major bookies offering 10/11 on both boxers. However, there are a few things we can confidently predict will happen, both in the build-up and in the fight itself, which will make this one of the biggest sporting attractions of the summer.
Johnny Nelson recently wrote a piece for Sky Sports, which listed Tyson Fury as the best Heavyweight in the world. On ring skills alone, I doubt anyone other than “The Gypsy King” himself would put Fury at number one in those rankings, but boxing isn’t just about what happens in the ring and because of that, it’s hard to argue against Nelson’s decision.
Everything Fury says and does in the build-up to a fight is very cleverly conceived by the 27 year old and the rest of his team. All the outlandish claims, the ridiculous antics and the expletive ridden social media outburst are deployed with the sole purpose of gaining a psychological edge over his opponent before they even step foot in the ring. He’s as good with his mouth as he is with his fists and there probably isn’t a boxer in the world who is as good at self-promotion as Tyson Fury.
So, in some ways, the build up to the fight could be just as intriguing as the fight itself, as the boxing fraternity sits on the edge of its seat, waiting to see what Fury will come up with next.
An Improved Klitschko
There is no doubting that all the talk, all the Superhero costumes and all the impromptu X-Factor auditions got under Klitschko’s skin and as he entered that ring in Dusseldorf, Fury had the Champ exactly where he wanted him. The two-time and longest reigning Champion in the world of boxing put in an uncharacteristically cautious and impotent display, holding back his shots and failing to cause Fury, who has been knocked down by much weaker opponents in the past, any significant damage.
He will don the same serious and respectful demeanour he and his brother Vitali perfected during their decade of dominance, but it’s between the ears where we will have a different Wladimir Klitschko. There will be no underestimating Fury this time and he will not allow himself to be caught up in the whirlwind of razzmatazz the new Champion is going to hurl at him. This fight will not just be about business, the belts or the boxing, it will be about revenge.
Wherever Fury goes, controversy isn’t far behind. Since winning those belts back in October, he has been sure to keep himself at the forefront of everyone’s mind, causing headlines on both the back and front pages.
Some sexist remarks almost got him banned from Sports Personality of the Year, he’s also been exchanging verbals with other boxers and toying with the press about the prospect of retirement, whether those claims were serious or not is anyone’s guess. He also raised a shocking, but well backed up query in an interview, suggesting reasons why Klitchsko may have lost their first fight on purpose.
However, I don’t think anything Fury says should be taken particularly seriously. It’s just one part of the tactical game he plays in order to gain an early advantage over his challenger, or any future opponent whose eyes and ears are sure to be pointed in his direction.
Challengers at Ringside
Two prospective opponents who are incredibly likely to make the trip to Manchester to watch the fight from ringside, are Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua.
Wilder is undefeated during his professional career so far, with 35 of his 36 wins coming by way of knockout. The 26 year old will be defending his WBC World Heavyweight Championship belt for the fifth time later this month, when clashed with the highly rated Russian challenger, Alexander Povetkin.
Fury was at ringside to watch his easy win over Artur Szpilka in January, entering the ring after to bout as the two Heavyweight Champions fired shots at one another, both claiming a fight is sure to happen in the near future and talking up their own chances of winning.
Fury and Joshua have been going back and forth with each other, both in the press and on social media, ever since the latter won his first ever World Title against Charles Martin last month. Despite all of Fury’s success, Anthony Joshua has become the poster-boy of British Boxing and since winning that IBF belt, which Fury vacated after beating Klitschko, a potential showdown between the two British World Champions looks inevitable and is just what the boxing world is clambering to see.
Joshua will defend his newly acquired World Title for the first time in June, when he takes on another undefeated American in the shape of Dominic Breazeale, but if he can come through that fight, he will surely be next in line to take on the winner of the Fury, Klitschko rematch.
Who will come out on top in that fight on July 9th, I have no idea. But one thing you can guarantee, is that this second fight will be much more explosive than the first.