Having spent the weekend so engrossed in the Mayweather vs Ortiz card, I missed the UK boxing on Saturday afternoon and now aim to fix that. We'll start with British and Commonwealth heavyweight titleholder Tyson Fury taking on American club fighter Nicolai Firtha in a non-title bout, which aired Saturday on Channel 5, Fury's second date for the network.
I heard this one was a good scrap, so let's see what's what.
Dave Farrar and Al Bernstein calling the action. Fury pumping the jab right down the pipe to start. Right hand by Firtha, but then a left hook counter from Fury. Jab, jab, jab. Bernstein discussing Firtha's fight with Povetkin. Firtha with a nice uppercut. Right to the body by Firtha, who looks a bit more nimble than expected of his size, build, and skill level. Pretty much constant action for the first two minutes. Fury really using that jab very nicely. Uppercut by Fury REALLY lands on Firtha, and Firtha looks in trouble. Big right hand! Left hook! Firtha ties him up. Those are some solid shots from Tyson Fury. Very nice combos from Fury to start the fight, as good as he's looked. Of course Firtha is no defensive master. You've got to love that jab just thudding off of Firtha's nose to end the round. Fury 10-9
Back to the jab to start the round, Firtha's nose just gushing blood already. Fury with a right hand as Firtha comes in. Then jab, jab, jab, and a right hand. Right hand again. Jab. Jab. Goddamn, I am LOVING that jab. Real dedication to it. Firtha eats a left hook. This is fairly masterful stuff for what it is -- obviously, Fury is a better fighter than Firtha, younger and bigger, but Fury is really fighting here, and constantly looking to do damage. Firtha getting his jab in, but Fury drills him with a right hand counter. Fury 10-9, Fury 20-18
Fury looking to sell out on his right hand after the jab at times. But still just pouring that jab in. Firtha looking for counters, and lands a right hand. Bernstein notes Fury bringing the jab back very quickly, and he is right. HARD right by Firtha and Fury is staggered badly! Firtha pouring on the pressure! Tied up, but Fury still wobbly and lots of time to kill. Great job surviving by Fury, you have to say that. Nice ring awareness. Firtha's corner screaming for the referee to take a point, which serves more to distract their own fighter. Fury hurt again and just getting beaten up for much of this round. But Fury also starting to land back counters. Firtha 10-9, Fury 29-28
What the referee said to Fury after the bell is a mystery.
Fury back on good legs to start the round and jabbing again. Crowd in Belfast is absolutely mad -- what a great fight crowd this is. Big right from Fury! Another one! Fury with a right and a left! Both guys showing big chins. Firtha tiring a little bit. Referee warns both for wrestling around a bit, they touch gloves and nobody hits the other guy before he's ready. Fury jabbing once again. Just sticking it in there, getting the nose flowing again. Great bounce-back round for Fury, and he punctuates it with another hard right hand, with Firtha holding on to Fury and falling. Referee calls it a knockdown. Fury 10-8, Fury 39-36
On replay, the way Fury can put together a right, left hook, and right uppercut really does put him in rare air in today's heavyweight division. Hard right again from Fury. Firtha has lost all momentum from that third round. Right hand Firtha, but a HARD one comes back from Fury and shakes Firtha! Two minutes left in the round. Huge right from Fury, and the referee stops the fight. What? Oh, come on. Tyson Fury TKO-5
Well, lousy and way early stoppage aside, this one is a should-see. Not a must-see, but especially those who are looking for good heavyweight fighters to watch, check this one out. Fury (16-0, 11 KO) has a nicely varied toolset in terms of the punches he can land for power, and his jab is just getting better and better, which should be alarming for other heavyweight prospects given Fury's 6'9" frame and 85-inch reach.
Fury, 23, is never going to be a Klitschko. That's both good and bad. The good news is that he might easier pick up dedicated fans, because he's an exciting fighter to watch, and I don't just mean exciting for the heavyweight division. But he's also never going to be as dominant as they have become, because he's not near as cerebral, and he never will be. He's a born fighter, not a born boxer, not a born athlete. He has overcome his early career awkwardness as he settles into his frame and doesn't look near as clumsy as he used to, and again, the way he can put punches together is so nice to see from a heavyweight.
I thought the stoppage here was pretty atrocious, and obviously Fury had his moments of doubt, particularly when he was seriously rocked in the third, and Firtha (20-9-1, 8 KO) is no big puncher despite his size. Tyson Fury is going to lose fights in his career. But I can say with confidence that I believe this is a heavyweight star in the making. He's got personality, he's got a quickly-growing fanbase, and he believes in his own ability, and in his own toughness. He's not yet shown any fear of getting hit or mixing it up in the ring. Firtha is no major scalp for him, but looking just at Fury in this fight, he continues to improve pretty much every time out.