Tyson Fury’s WBC heavyweight title fight against Deontay Wilder may not have had the fairytale ending that his incredible comeback deserved but the undefeated lineal champion has certainly become the people’s champion.
Throughout his career his loudmouth style and controversial comments have led Tyson Fury to split opinion whilst his boxing style has not always made for the most exciting fights but on Saturday night he put all of that behind him.
There was no doubting that Fury’s performance to beat Wladimir Klitschko three years ago was impressive in its delivery, if not enthralling, but his controversial comments in the aftermath about homosexuality and women led to high profile figures coming out against him, especially to win the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. Those comments remain abhorrent and should be remembered but shouldn’t stand against him in his turnaround of character.
The following three years saw Fury go away from the ring and fall into a depression that led to suicidal thoughts and alcohol and drug addictions, the latter leading to a ban from the sport.
At his heaviest the Gypsy King ballooned to nearly 400 lbs but he did incredible work for his comeback, having two fights before the Wilder bout, and shed around 150 lbs to weigh in at 252 lbs against the Bronze Bomber.
In defeating his demons, getting back in shape and being able to get into the ring against Wilder the lineal champion had already overcome so much, arguably more than most fighters do.
Fury spent most of the 12 rounds making Wilder miss. Image: PA Images
As if all that hadn’t been enough Fury out boxed his undefeated opponent for much of the fight and even got off the canvass twice, the second time when he looked out cold, and went the distance with a man who had only once before been in a fight that had gone to the scorecards.
Despite the knockdowns most people had the 30 year old ahead at the end of the fight and there was outrage on social media when the split decision draw was announced.
Fury rose from the mat twice. Image: PA Images
The heart and spirit that Fury showed in the fight, plus his refusal to really go in on the judges and the comeback from man’s lowest possible point put the controversial boxer in the hearts of everyone and made him into a true champion.
Several people put it perfectly on social media, including promoter Frank Warren and former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand:
After the fight Fury was pretty magnanimous, considering what had just transpired, saying, “I’m not happy with the draw but I’m a realist. I’m not going to cry over spilt milk. Both men got out the ring healthy and we go back to our families. We’re behemoths of men and anything can happen in there. I should have won but I’m not going to complain.”
It might not have always been easy to love, or even like, Wilder but right now he is lineal champion of the world and is certainly the fighter we call our heavyweight champ!