Best Heavyweight Fighter Ever?

If you are not familiar with Tyson Fury, he is a British boxer currently rated the best heavyweight in the world. He weighed one pound when born prematurely in 1988. His father nevertheless named him, optimistically, after Mike Tyson. Fury’s ancestry is mostly Irish and he is a gypsy; one of his nicknames is The Gypsy King. His family has included a number of fighters.

Fury started out small, but he grew to be 6′ 9″. In 2015 he won the unified world heavyweight title by defeating long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in a unanimous decision. Unfortunately, Fury spiraled downhill from there. He vacated his titles in 2016, suffering from mental health problems including severe depression, along with excessive alcohol and cocaine use. His weight ballooned to 400 pounds and his career appeared to be over.

But Fury made a comeback, capped when he fought Deontay Wilder in December 2018 for the WBC heavyweight championship. The fight was scored a draw, but most observers thought Fury won. He seemed to be well ahead on points in the final round when Wilder, considered the hardest puncher in the division, floored Fury and appeared to knock him out. But Fury miraculously got up off the canvas and finished the bout. He remains undefeated at 28-0-1.

Last night, Tyson Fury fought a German heavyweight, Tom Schwarz, who was lightly regarded despite coming into the bout undefeated. The fight was in Las Vegas, and Fury entered the ring dressed as Apollo Creed in Rocky, apparently as a tribute to the U.S. Fury has talked about moving to America, as he believes he is looked down on in Britain as a gypsy.

Fury scored an impressive second round TKO. While the fight didn’t last long, he displayed impressive speed and defensive skill, at one point bobbing his head to dodge punches against the ropes in Ali style. He came out for the second round fighting southpaw, and overwhelmed Schwarz. At 6′ 9″, Fury’s 85 inch reach is impressive to say the least. Here is the fight in its entirety:

I haven’t followed the heavyweights closely in recent years, as I find the welterweight and middleweight divisions generally more interesting. But watching Tyson Fury fight, and comparing him to Muhammad Ali, nearly all of whose fights I saw, as well as Mike Tyson and other more recent heavyweights, I find it hard to see how any of them could have beaten Fury.

I think a Tyson Fury who is in condition and clear headed, as he was last night, would have crushed Ali, Joe Frazier and even Larry Holmes. He is just as clever and almost as fast as Ali and Holmes, and punches harder with a far longer reach. I don’t see how shorter heavyweights, like Frazier and Mike Tyson, could have contended with the 6′ 9″ Fury. No doubt they would have tried to burrow in, but Fury’s impressive skills would, I think, have kept them at bay and punished them when they came in close. How do you think a 4′ 11″ boxer would have fared against Tyson? That is the same height advantage Fury would have over Iron Mike.

In short, I think Tyson Fury at his best could have beaten any modern heavyweight champion, and maybe any champion of the past, including Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano. A controversial view? No doubt. But Marciano was only 5′ 11″, 10 inches shorter than Fury. Louis at 6′ 2″ was seven inches shorter, while his 76″ reach was nine inches less than Fury’s. I think Fury’s skills are too formidable to overcome such disadvantages.

If you don’t agree, have at it in the comments.

One more thing: Fury can sing, too. After last night’s bout he sang an a cappella version of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” to his wife:

I don’t think Ali ever did that!

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