Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and the Resurgence of Heavyweight Boxing
I know this is an MMA channel and ‘Boxing Dive’ would be an absolutely atrocious name for a YouTube account, but I’m in the business of appreciating a good narrative, appreciating fighting skills, and celebrating those who can really flip the script and make something of themselves in the face of what could have been a set of insurmountable odds.
And no, I won’t be covering the Olympics, or previewing the NBA finals any time soon - but give me Fury/Wilder and that’ll do.
Because while MMA is my go-to sport, I do love boxing - and when it comes to keeping up with its most significant clashes each year, it’s hard to beat twelve rounds of action for a championship belt.
And Tyson Fury has been on my radar for years and years now.
Obviously the man has Irish heritage - and both his father and grandfather lived in the Galway town of Tuam, which is less than an hour from where I was born and raised.
And it’s been hard for me not to like Tyson as a person - there’s something about how completely and utterly unapologetic he is that has made him a constant source of laughs over the years, and all in all, he seems like the type of person I’d get on well with in a pub - which is a big litmus test for celebrities on these shores, obviously.
But when his viability as a genuine force within that heavyweight division really started to shine through - as he shocked the world by defeating Wladimir Klitchsko, slowly building off from his foundation and perfecting that odd jerky style we know him for today - I was definitely surprised to some extent.
And I could sit here for the next half hour and speak about his return from the depths of depression and addiction - and how inspirational I continue to find that, especially when his achievements continue to stack up.
But that trilogy with Wilder contained within the perfect three-prong summary of who Tyson Fury is.
Because as that first bout with The Bronze Bomber came around - and Fury had laboured his way to a pair of decent, but not truly mindblowing victories to get his long-awaited comeback underway, I thought that there was a good chance that we were looking a big name lamb being led to the slaughter.
Not because I thought that Wilder was such an unquestionably bad matchup for Tyson - but just because of that inactivity, because of how ridiculous the notion of fighting for a world title was at that point for Fury.
And with Deontay’s power being what it was, I, along with a lot of you no doubt thought that Fury’s comeback was about to receive a very rough setback.
But he went in there and performed admirably - clearly winning the fight, in spite of the knockdowns he sustained.
And in that moment, he became something of an icon for his ability to so conclusively deal with his adversity - and when he came back to thoroughly beat down Wilder in the rematch, this time as a much more polished and in-form version of himself, the rise, fall, and eventually rise again came full circle.
And for that reason I didn’t think too much of this trilogy bout - or at least I didn’t see Wilder as a real threat coming in.
Obviously his power is a truly ridiculous weapon - but like most of you, the manner in which he handled the result of that second fight definitely brought up a few red flags.
And even on fight night itself, when it was already a ridiculous time in the morning to be awake, the delays that came from Wilder’s corner as he seemingly complained about his gloves.
Yea it seemed as though this was destined to be an even greater walkover than the second fight.
But damn, that assumption was so far from the truth.
Fury vs. Wilder III was a riveting contest, a fight so good that you’ll have to jump back years upon years to find a heavyweight title matchup as electric.
Both men handled themselves admirably - even if the technical gulf was increasingly prominent as the fight went on.
And I think that Wilder gets a lot of unfair criticism. Obviously he brings most of it on himself through his inability to accept defeat - but I do think that he has more self awareness than most believe him to.
Is he outright playing the heel here?
Maybe not, but he’s unapologetic in his character and as the boogeyman of the heavyweight division for so many years, the guy was always the hammer and never once the nail, I think there’s a lot that I can understand about Deontay - in any given moment - needing to hype himself into retaining his identity as The Bronze Bomber.
Because I’ve heard in the time since, from his coaches, that he does, in fact, respect Fury - and all in all, though I know that many will be quick to chime in and state that such a lack of self-awarness is not the hallmark of a champion boxer - but I suppose nothing about Wilder, aside from his power, screams championship level boxer.
Or at least that’s what it seemed like ahead of that soon-to-be-iconic matchup.
Because Wilder showed grit in that fight that I didn’t know was there - grit that he felt like he didn’t have the chance to show us in their second fight.
And yea, I do think that Deontay’s comments about this trio of bouts come from a place of frustration, come from a place that is quite alien to him given his role as the hammer and not the nail.
But I do think that the notion that his inability to accept defeat without any asterisks is a bit overstated - or at the very least, not overly important.
The man is a big hitter and as long as he remains within the sport of boxing, that’s all he needs to be.
And Tyson Fury is without question the best heavyweight on the planet right now.
And look, coming over from MMA where we’re constantly getting the best fights when they really should happen, I’m definitely not expecting to see Fury in there with Oleksandr Usyk in a hurry - especially because of the always-frustrating rematch clauses that just take the spark out of any type of immediate interest we might have in a future matchup.
But look, as things stand, even if he doesn’t ever get in there with Anthony Joshua - or it takes another 18 months to match him up with Usyk - Tyson Fury is the best heavyweight fighter of his era - and after something of a dull, or at the very least, uneven period in the weight class since the turn of the century, fights like these prove that the most historically significant division in all of combat sports is in good health.
And for me, the rate at which it has improved in the last three or four years has been a joy to behold.