Tyson Fury is your new favorite fighter!
Maybe he's not. Maybe for all his "fun" goofiness you are a bit weirded out by his very serious and very obvious personality issues. I am not condemning the man for his beliefs or for being part of the 97% of pro fighters that I probably wouldn't enjoy listening to speak about much of anything in a real life setting, but I am admittedly a little hesitant to start glorifying how zany and wacky he is when he also says a lot of things that I just completely don't agree with in any way.
But whatever, let's talk about his fighting. I've been saying for a couple of years now, genius that I am, that Tyson Fury was underrated, that he was not getting the respect he deserved for improving, that people too often thought not just first, but only of that time he uppercutted himself in the forehead. (Do we have to retire that now that he's world champion? I say no.)
Still, even though I felt Fury was a little underrated by some and Klitschko obscenely overrated by many, I didn't think he'd beat Wladimir Klitschko. And until the scores were read and Michael Buffer said "and the new," I wasn't convinced he was going to get the decision. I thought he deserved it, and that he'd earned it, but I wasn't sure he'd get credit for enough rounds in what was a plodding display in terms of punch output on both sides.
The way that Fury (25-0, 18 KO) won the world heavyweight championship didn't exactly back up all his trash talking about breaking faces and knocking people out. That's because Fury is, once the bell rings, a whole hell of a lot smarter than he might lead one to believe. At 6'9"(ish), he's not a fighter who has just relied on his size, and he's not a huge puncher, so he doesn't overly rely on his power, either. He uses abnormally good footwork and movement for a guy his size to control fights, along with a long jab, even if it's just a range finder, or just for show. Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO) never really figured out how to attack Fury, and given that Klitschko doesn't love to attack in the first place, he wound up looking lost.
I don't think Wladimir Klitschko looked particularly old in this fight, other than he was ineffective and he's 39. What I think is that Wladimir Klitschko's weaknesses once again got exposed. I wonder a bit if Wladimir changing his style to protect an iffy chin has made him so rigid and so locked in to what he does that he no longer has the ability to truly adjust. When fighters don't just give him openings with recklessness, or because they're just so unskilled in comparison to him that they can't help but screw up and eat his fists for dessert, he has problems. We saw this in 2013 against Alexander Povetkin, a brutally ugly fight that I said at the time was the greatest proof ever that Wladimir Klitschko was not an all-time great heavyweight.
This fight was similar proof. Povetkin moved his head and had some sort of idea of what he wanted to do. But Povetkin is 6'2", and when he tried to rush his way in, Klitschko could very easily grab hold of him, which he did. All night. Nobody's ever looked worse winning 12 rounds against a world class opponent than Klitschko did beating Povetkin. Fury, with height and reach and movement, was in hindsight kryptonite for Klitschko. He outboxed him, he outthought him, he outfought him, at least in spurts here and there.
I was incredibly impressed by Tyson Fury on some levels. On the other hand, he won the world heavyweight championship in just about the dullest possible fashion. That he sang the silly Aerosmith song after the fight and that he was emotional and that the atmosphere and event were incredible is all good stuff, and helps give the early memories of the fight a rosy tint. But it was an awful fight, too. We complained about Guillermo Rigondeaux's terrible work rate and punches landed last week, and he outpaced these guys combined in many rounds.
Wladimir Klitschko can win a rematch, though!
One of the more popular thoughts out there right now is that when they rematch next spring, it will be more of the same, that Wladimir simply can't beat Fury. That it's just a horrible matchup for him.
Yeah, it is, and we saw proof of it. But of course Wladimir Klitschko can beat Tyson Fury next time out. Not saying he will, or that he should be favored to -- he won't be any younger, after all -- but he can, certainly.
Klitschko never got untracked in this fight. Like I said, I wonder if maybe he just can't do anything differently than what he learned to do while Emanuel Steward rescued his career over many years. If he can't change, Fury will beat him again. But if he can show a bit more aggression, uncork his right hand, and find a comfortable way to lead the action a bit more, yes, he can beat Tyson Fury.
Maybe this fight will serve as a hunger booster for Klitschko. Maybe he's just not as invested as he used to be. It would make sense. He's almost 40, he's made a ton of money, he's been doing this professionally for 19 years, and his life isn't the same as it once was. He's has a fiancée, he has a child. Boxing taking a backseat more often is natural in that situation. But for a fighter, it's not ideal to continued domination.
Still, don't totally write off Klitschko in a rematch. That's my advice. Particularly if, like me, you're thrilled that Fury has thrown the boxing world for a loop. The king is deposed, but he's not dead.
James DeGale and Lucian Bute light up Quebec!
Little was expected of Saturday night's James DeGale-Lucian Bute fight in Quebec City, because Bute, 35, hasn't looked like much of a contender in a few years, ever since Carl Froch beat the crap out of him in England in 2012. Since then, Bute had gone 2-1, but wins over Andrea Di Luisa and Denis Grachev didn't exactly make him a top candidate for a return to glory, and his loss to Jean Pascal was pretty one-sided.
Bute (32-3, 25 KO) came to fight on Saturday, though, and it may have been the best he's ever looked against a real top flight opponent. It's sort of easy to forget now, because who has the time to think about this stuff all day, but before Bute was waxed by Froch, his career-best win came in 2007 against Sakio Bika. Bika was a difficult opponent, sure, but not exactly an elite fighter. Once we saw Froch manhandle Bute physically and mentally, the idea of what Bute might have done in the Super Six World Boxing Classic didn't seem so worthy of extensive discussion.
Against DeGale (22-1, 14 KO), he stood his ground and fought back all night, and it's not as though DeGale came out there timidly, either. He rushed right to Bute, as he said he would, and tested whether or not the Romanian-Canadian really had the heart and grit to go a hard 12, or even a hard six. Bute did, though, which may have surprised some, and really, the body shots he ate over the course of the fight proved a toughness that we hadn't really seen out of him in the past.
This was a good fight, one DeGale clearly and deservingly won, establishing him as one of the top players at 168 pounds. But it also means that Bute still has some life, and he'd be a very interesting opponent for one of the division's younger guns in 2016, be it Callum Smith or (less likely) Gilberto Ramirez. He's also not exactly out of the world title race -- Saturday's version of Bute could be very tough for Arthur Abraham, Badou Jack, or Fedor Chudinov, the other titleholders in the division.
As far as DeGale goes, he's really turned a corner the last couple of years. He fought a bit arrogantly early in his career, often because he could, but he took that narrow loss to George Groves and a fairly tough follow-up with Piotr Wilczewski and learned from those experiences. When his career was languishing on Channel 5 with Hennessy Sports after that, he seemed like he was fighting bored a lot of the time. But he's proven his class and what he can do when focused and promoted well. He may be the best super middleweight in the world right now.
Amir Imam also got upset on Saturday!
By the betting odds, this was a bigger upset than Fury over Klitschko, and quite substantially so. Nobody thought that Imam, a top 140-pound prospect, a mandatory title challenger, Don King's latest Last Relevant Fighter, and a rising name for the Showtime boxing brand, would lose to Adrian Granados.
Granados, though, is a good fighter. And he didn't sneak by Imam on a decision, or just win enough rounds. After Imam (18-1, 15 KO) dropped Granados (17-4-2, 12 KO) in the first round on a bullet counter right hand, Granados kicked Imam's ass all over the ring until referee Alain Villeneuve was forced to stop the fight in round eight. It wasn't even competitive by the middle rounds, as Granados' whirlwind offense and fearlessness just wore Imam down and eventually out.
Imam, 25, has plenty of time to learn from this. He may have gotten overconfident in his power after flooring Granados so hard in the first round, which allowed Granados to build up some steam. And though Granados isn't a big puncher (solid KO rate, but not a big puncher), you get hit that much, it's going to take a toll.
This was a reality check for Amir Imam, but losses happen sometimes against good fighters, and I thought going in that Imam deserved real credit for fighting someone who was no easy out when he absolutely didn't have to do so. They would've put Imam on the SHO Extreme broadcast against any veteran stiff with 37 year old legs and no more fire in the belly. Instead, Imam fought a 26-year-old guy with a deceptive record who has given fits to some good fighters in previous defeats and draws. It bit Imam this time, but give me a fighter willing to risk being bitten over someone willing to cruise, and Imam likely learned a lot more losing this fight than he would have just steamrolling someone and waiting around for a shot at a title.
I won't be surprised if Granados becomes a player at 140 for real, either. Not long-term, maybe, because his style is one that's going to cut his prime years down, but at least in the short term he might be a danger to some name fighters.
And even if this just leads to defeats, like it did when Josesito Lopez beat Victor Ortiz, who doesn't want to see Granados against Ruslan Provodnikov or Omar Figueroa in early 2016?