What Now on Fury Road?

By Timothy Seaver on November 30, 2015
What Now on Fury Road?
If Klitschko were to lose again, or win again, fans might notice, or they might not. (Getty)

Klitschko has always felt like a B-level movie star who was cast as a leading man, not quite made for the spotlight…

In the wake of Tyson Fury’s upset victory of Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday in Germany, three questions prevail. What now for Klitschko? What now for Fury? And most importantly…What now for boxing?

Klitschko’s place in history is secure, but it might be preserved in the cold pages of record books, and not the warm confines of fan’s adoring hearts. He is unquestionably a Hall-of-Famer. He goes down in history as one of the longest reigning heavyweight champions with a remarkable eighteen title defenses.

And yet, few Americans know his accomplishment. When asked to name the heavyweight champion most sports fans on this side of the Atlantic are at a loss. As far as they know, boxing has been a wasteland since about the time first Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Klitschko has always felt like a B-level movie star who was cast as a leading man, not quite made for the spotlight. But it is possible that his image will be well-polished by time. This often happens. Many champions get an image-boost though the years and their careers age like wine. In decades to come, some young fan pouring over the old records might just marvel at Klitschko’s streak of title defenses. They’ll note that Wladimir has more victories than all but a few heavyweight champs. And his highlight reel of dynamic knockouts will prevent anyone from having to endure the sight of his actual ring battles.

So his next move is almost irrelevant. His story feels complete as it is. He looks like a man whose age has caught up to him. And this loss to Fury could be blamed on aging legs and waning reflexes, as could any subsequent defeats. And at this point he might have a difficult time beating anyone else at the elite level. So if he were to lose again, or win again, fans might notice, or they might not. History might notice, or it might not.

Tyson Fury, by contrast, could prove to be an interesting character with some appeal for the American fight crowd. Every fact learned about him begs to be explored a little deeper.

He’s from England, a country far more familiar to Americans than Klitschko’s home of Ukraine. But he’s not the Downton Abby kind of English. His clever insults aren’t tucked inside thick, elegant language. They are definitely clever, but there’s no mistaking their intent. He hurls his insults like his wild punches, only with less subtlety.

Fury comes from the Traveler People who hail from Ireland. They live as Gypsies, moving from one temporary home to another. They’re a people who live life without apology; they curse, they fight, they’re loud and proud.

Fury likes to talk, he likes to boast, to brag, to shoot his opponent down with words. Or maybe he’ll take the mic from Lennox Lewis after a fight, take over as MC and dedicate an Aerosmith song to his fans and to his wife.

When an athlete talks like he does, the media listen. There is a story to hear even when he isn’t fighting. A few brash words can be used as a thirty-second filler on a sports show. Which is thirty more seconds than most actual fights have received in recent years. No one has wanted to hear from Klitschko. He has an Eastern European stoicism, devoid of passionate bragging, or put-downs. Qualities we all pretend to admire, but which we never reward with ticket sales.

The heavyweight champion should be someone who people want to listen to, either because of fascination, curiosity, or because they can’t stand him. Mike Tyson was such a champion. And that brings up the question of Fury’s name. He was indeed named after the first Tyson. This victory in Germany, he says, fulfilled the destiny he received when his parents gave him that name.

Tyson Fury’s life reads like an author’s creation. He’s a character of the kind who live in the chapters of a great novel. His style might not lead him to eighteen title defenses, but it will make people watch his fights and follow his career.

As for the sport itself…this fight might be the best thing for boxing. Klitschko has been the symbol of why the division has been so uninteresting since the retirement of Lewis. And when the champ has a mouth big enough to attract attention before a fight, more seats will be filled when the fight rolls around. It doesn’t hurt that Fury comes from England, a country where a super middleweight fight between Carl Froch and George Groves was held at Wembley Stadium and sold 80,000 tickets. If a super middleweight bout can attract that many people without the best fighters in the world, how many could a heavyweight contest draw with the highest ranking man in the division?

There are only a handful of opponents who are legitimate threats to Fury right now. That means he can sit back and wait for someone like Deontay Wilder or Alexander Povetkin to make their case as a clear number one opponent (rumors suggest that those two will meet sometime in 2016). Until then Fury can take a fight or two against a reasonable fighter and build his case as a great champion. Fury doesn’t seem shy about facing anybody, so we won’t live through years of a Mayweather/Pacquiao scenario where the best are constantly kept apart.

Of course rumors also suggest that a rematch is possible between Fury and Klitschko. While Wladimir has certainly earned it based on all he’s accomplished, a rematch could just postpone the inevitable. His time on stage has ended. Let him take his bow. But more importantly, get the spotlight off him and illuminate the next star.

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  1. mo 02:33pm, 12/01/2015

    he fought scared. all he had to do is let his hands go. i don’t want to see it again. let him fight george forman. yeah i sound stupid. at least it will generate a tiny bit interest. wow i sound foolish don’t i. please no rematch !

  2. Don from Prov 10:02am, 12/01/2015

    Fury doesn’t even know how to punch—

    Wlad is certainly gun-shy but someone should be able to convince him that if he were to assert himself it is possible that he might be stunned or even knocked down by Fury but that he would prevail in a blow-for-blow.

    I hope that he takes the rematch and wins—go out on a higher note.

  3. Jethro's Flute 02:37pm, 11/30/2015

    No, that was the one with ‘Danse Macabre’ in the title.

    On that thread, it was explained that it only counts when Klitschko loses and none of his wins ever count.

    Not only that, cruiserweight Marciano would beat Tyson Fury in 5 rounds, far quicker than Rocky beat Don Cockell. Joe Frazier would also beat him easily with one eye.

    Also, let’s gloss over the fact that, at the same age as Wlad, Ali had brain damage from fighting too long and being too easy to hit. Indeed Sports Illustrated said he had never really learned how to fight.

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:06pm, 11/30/2015

    Is this the thread where we take turns shitting on Klitschko’s grave?

  5. Jethro's Flute 01:32pm, 11/30/2015

    It may well be that Wlad’s time is up.

    If so, there is no disgrace as Father Time always wins in the end.

    Regardless of how the rest of his career goes, win or lose, Tyson Fury is a disgrace as a person.

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