By Alan Hubbard
Tyson Fury’s 56 year-old dad, himself a former heavyweight who fought a modest 13 times under the name of Gypsy John Fury, is a pretty good judge of boxing. Certainly more so than some of the adjudicators we have seen at the ringside recently who should’ve gone to Specsavers.
So when Fury senior tells us that his lad is the best heavyweight Britain has ever produced, I, for one, am not inclined to argue with him.
The Gypsy Giant’s twice winning of world heavyweight titles away from home, against Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder respectively, plus his comeback from the depths of mental despair, surely rank high among the most remarkable achievements in the annals of British sport.
In his current form it is hard to think of any home-grown heavyweight who might have got the better of him, though I believe Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno and Welshman Tommy Farr, aka the Tonypandy Terror who went 15 rounds with Joe Louis at New York’s Yankee Stadium back in 1937, would all have given him one hell of a scrap.
But when Tyson’s straight-talking old man proffers the view that his first born might even be the greatest heavyweight who ever lived, well, maybe that’s something we should pause and think about.
No doubt about it, Tyson is a brilliant exponent of his trade, highly skilled with a massive fighting heart and a new-found punch which could put any heavyweight in history to sleep – if he caught them.
Yet certain names spring to mind who even John Fury must think might just have been just a bit too strong or clever even for Tyson at his peak. Would he have got the better of all, or any of the following: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, namesake Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes.
I don’t think so, but I accept that better judges than I might beg to differ. But I will never be out-argued that neither Tyson Fury, nor any heavyweight in history, could have beaten the Muhammed Ali who fought Cleveland Williams and Zora Folley before being forced into exile aged 27.
He was then as near perfection as any fighting man can be, truly uniquely floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.
Truly The Greatest of all time.
The world had never seen anything like him, then and I suspect never will again, though fair do’s, the Fury who so brutally dissected Wilder in their second contest, a beating after which the American may never be the same again, may be the nearest to Ali we have seen.
Johnson, Louis, Ali and Holmes all had the sort of piston-like jab that could keep Fury at bay and I have included Marciano, Frazier and Mike Tyson because from what we have seen of Fury he seems less comfortable against opponents considerably shorter than himself.
Of course everyone the 6ft 9in Fury faces is smaller than him but this trio, all under six feet, were genuine fierce-hitting pressure powerhouses.
Such speculation is actually meat and drink to the fans and this argument will continue to rage – socially distanced of course – in the pubs and clubs that have that have escaped the Covid clampdown.
Interestingly John Fury was asked if there is any heavyweight around at the moment who might trouble Tyson. His reply came instantly: “Yes, Usyk.”
No wonder he is a sound judge. Olexandr Usyk, the former unified world light heavyweight champion, is a classy fighter and unquestionably the most serious threat to Fury now that he has moved up to heavyweight. According to John Fury he is “skilful, smart strong puncher and an intelligent boxer who moves well.”
By chance he appears in this country next weekend when I anticipate he will severely chastise that old warhorse Dereck Chisora. No doubt Fury and son will be watching with great interest.
For who knows how the future will map out in heavyweight boxing next year. The most anticipated domestic fight ever would be between WBC champion Fury and fellow Brit Anthony Joshua who holds the remaining belts.
But Joshua is no racing certainty to overcome his mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev, next month. The Bulgarian can box and bang, is big and awkward and certainly no pushover. He is promoted by Top Rank and as we know Bob Arum doesn’t mess around with mugs.
In boxing, applecarts have a habit of sometimes being upset rather inconveniently.
However come what may, boxing in general and the heavyweight scene in particular are certainly doing their best to lift the pandemic blues and brush away some of the gloom and doom that he’s been forced upon us.
The fistfuls of closed door shows have been a real tonic for fight fans and, indeed, it seems Christmas has come early for those who follow the sport via BT. For on November 28 the tasty heavyweight showdown which, apart from Fury-Joshua, whets the appetite most finally comes to fruition.
Dynamite confronts The Juggernaut; Daniel Dubois against similarly unbeaten rival Joe Joyce. It can’t fail to be explosive, and Queensberry’s pre Xmas present to the BT fans is that the biggest heavyweight fight here in years won’t be ppv.
Then, the cherry on the Christmas cake. At the Royal Albert Hall on December 5 Queensberry will feature another classic clash, the much-awaited light heavyweight battle between Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur. Plus the return to the ring of mega star-turn Tyson Fury.
Whoever he fights, his very appearance is certain to be fun as he is by far Britain’s prime fistic entertainer. I also hope we will hear from his dad as pundit because, as I said, he knows his stuff when it comes to appraising fighters and analysing fights.
And refreshingly, he tells it how it is – even if his own flesh and blood is involved.
Remember how he castigated Tyson for his off-colour performance against the undistinguished Otto Wallin a year ago? The Swedish southpaw inflicted an horrific eye wound on Tyson who, according to his dad was terrible – the worst performance of his career, he said.
Big John made it clear he thought Tyson’s training had been all wrong and said he needed a change of approach, and different trainer. No verbal punches were pulled.
Tyson got the message, In came Sugarhill Steward, nephew and disciple of the Kronk’s late, legendary Manny, and the end result was a new, ultra-aggressive Fury and the humiliation at his heavier hands of Deontay Wilder, the man they said was the biggest puncher the world has ever seen.
Sometimes in boxing as in life, father does know best.