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Fantasy Boxing Matchup: Tyson Fury vs Vitali Klitschko

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Tyson beat Wladimir, but what if he faced a prime Vitali Klitschko?

Photos by Al Bello/Getty Images and Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images

It’s time for another fantasy boxing matchup! We’re doing this Monday through Friday for the time being, and there’s a page where you can follow along and look back on anything you missed. All votes are open for one week from the day they were posted, so if you missed anything within that last week you can still vote on those, too.

Today! We’re back to the heavyweight division for a matchup of modern giants: the current WBC and LINEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! champion Tyson Fury against the Klitschko he didn’t face, Vitali.

Tyson Fury vs Vitali Klitschko

Tyson Fury famously upset Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015, officially and truly ending the Klitschko Era of the heavyweight division, which was largely snoozed through by the mainstream public but has gained some hindsight acclaim with hard core boxing heads because the two were technically sound gentlemen — well, the latter more depending upon whomst one asks about some of their practices in the lead-up to certain fights, but that is neither here nor there for the moment.

Fury (career record of 30-0-1, 21 KO, and counting) absolutely deserves full credit for beating Wladimir. After all, it really was an upset, no matter what anyone says now. Wladimir was the favorite and had not just beaten guys, but pretty much dominated every challenger in his path from the day he won the IBF title from Chris Byrd on Apr. 22, 2006 in Mannheim, to that Nov. 28, 2015 evening in Düsseldorf.

Fury didn’t win pretty, but Klitschko often didn’t, either. And while Wladimir was 39 years old and winding down his career, he remained in great condition like always, and my gut feeling is he’d have beaten anyone in the game at that point except Tyson Fury on that night.

Wladimir had glaring strengths and weaknesses, and over time, with the help of Emanuel Steward, he learned to fully accentuate the positives and nearly entirely eliminate the negatives, at least as far as putting himself in real danger of losing fights. If he could wear a guy down and finally drill them with the right hand or left hook, he would. If he had to win boring over 12, he would.

Vitali was not Wladimir. Vitali was never Wladimir. Many have felt over the years that while Wladimir may in fact have been the more skilled boxer — he was — he almost certainly would not have beaten Vitali head-to-head in a world where they were the exact same fighters but not brothers.

Vitali (career record of 45-2, 41 KO) simply had a toughness and aggression that Wladimir often lacked, which some may now argue with, but that’s how they were seen in the moment for the bulk of their careers. They were simply of different in-ring mindsets and demeanor; Wladimir was at his best playing it extremely smart and not taking risks. Vitali didn’t mind taking a risk.

When you look at Wladimir’s losses, you will find three legit stoppages to Ross Puritty, Corrie Sanders, and Lamon Brewster. All those guys — even journeyman Puritty — could bang, and it’s the heavyweights, shit happens. And Wladimir certainly wound up living up to his early hype and then some.

But Vitali? Two losses, both with some amount of asterisk. In 2000, he was well ahead of Chris Byrd on the cards before a shoulder injury stopped the fight after nine rounds. In 2003, he was ahead on all three cards when a gruesome cut stopped him against Lennox Lewis, and that fight was enough for Lennox to call it a career. He didn’t want a rematch.

Vitali wasn’t always some thrilling Fight of the Year guy or anything, mind you. He had some methodical nature to his style, too, and I always thought of him as a more thudding puncher than Wladimir; both had huge power, but Wladimir’s was sharper, from somewhat better technical form, while Vitali just had that rawboned strength and pounded you down.

At 6’9”, Fury is listed two inches taller than the 6’7” Vitali, who was a bit taller than his brother but also had the slightly shorter reach, at 79 inches to Wladimir’s 81. Fury has the 85-inch reach which has served him well, and served him extremely well against Wladimir.

Fury may well be able to stay on the outside, use his awkward and tricky movement, put some little combinations together to make sure he’s busy enough to win rounds even if he’s not doing a lot; in other words we might see him try what he did with Vitali.

But is Fury peaking now? Because if so, he just fought like a destroyer in his last outing, pummeling Deontay Wilder. Vitali probably wouldn’t bring any surprises, but also probably would not fight with the sort of confusion Wladimir did against Tyson. When Fury flustered Wladimir, Wlad lacked for answers. Maybe Emanuel Steward being in the corner would’ve changed that, but also maybe not. They hadn’t faced a guy like Fury before. This was not Calvin Brock or Eddie Chambers, David Haye or Ray Austin.

If Fury were able to control Vitali from distance, which is quite possible, then Vitali would simply try harder to close distance, more likely than not, and get into Fury’s chest. Vitali never lacked for confident if it came time to slug it out.

But it’s up to you: who wins, best form vs best form, peak condition (whatever you think that is for each), Tyson Fury or Vitali Klitschko?

Poll

Who wins, Fury or Vitali?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Tyson Fury
    (950 votes)
  • 47%
    Vitali Klitschko
    (848 votes)
1798 votes total Vote Now