Monday, June 17, 2019

Tyson Fury Maintains His Position In The Heavyweight Division

The recent history of Boxing's Heavyweight division has revolved around three fighters that were regarded as the best in the division. Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury. All three fighters undefeated and each holding a claim to the World Heavyweight championship. Coincidentally, all three had bouts scheduled to take place in a little more than a month's time against separate opposition. The two world champions of the division Wilder and Joshua were the first of this trio of top Heavyweights to compete and defend their respective portions of the World Heavyweight championship.

As most Boxing fans know, Wilder scored a first round knockout over Dominic Breazeale on May 18th in Brooklyn, NY. Wilder simply made quick work of Breazeale in what was a statement making performance in defense of his WBC world championship. While some may have expected the outcome of Wilder scoring a knockout to retain his position atop the division, what would happen next was the definition of “Unexpected.”

This of course, is in reference to Anthony Joshua's defense of his unified IBF/WBA/IBO/WBO world championship on June 1st at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY against top contender Andy Ruiz, who had taken the fight on short notice. Ruiz made Boxing history getting off the canvas in the third round to score four knockdowns of Joshua to become the first Mexican-born fighter to win a World Heavyweight championship.

While Ruiz' victory over Joshua was not expected by some, it did become one of the biggest stories in Boxing in 2019. With Ruiz and Joshua heading toward a rematch later this year and with Joshua no longer among the top three fighters in the division, it was time for the third fighter in the trio of Heavyweights to return to the ring. Tyson Fury would do that on June 15th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV against undefeated German Heavyweight champion Tom Swarz.

Although Schwarz, who entered the fight unbeaten in twenty-four previous professional fights, the consensus was that the German Heavyweight champion was making a significant step up in caliber of opposition against the former World Heavyweight champion Fury. In previewing this fight,  I stated that it would come down to what Schwarz would bring to the table to combat the 6’9 Fury.

What can be overlooked due to his size is that Fury is a very skilled boxer who can be very elusive and difficult to hit cleanly. These traits would be on full display in this fight as Fury dictated the combat from the opening bell fighting behind a consistent jab and being able to make Schwarz be ineffective with the offense he did throw. This was demonstrated in the second round when Fury dropped his hands, but managed to slip and avoid four punches to the head that Schwarz attempted to land.

Moments later, Fury would knock Schwarz down with a combination to the head. Schwarz managed to beat the count, but had no answer for Fury’s follow-up barrage resulting in the fight being stopped. The fight could be summed up as Fury simply doing what he had to do against a “Game”, but ultimately overmatched opponent.

For Fury the twenty-eighth victory of his career allows him to maintain his position in this observer’s view as the best Heavyweight currently in the division that does not hold a recognized world championship. While some recognize Fury as a “Lineal” champion due to the fact that he won the unified portion of the World Heavyweight championship with his 2015 victory over Wladimir Klitschko and was not defeated for the championship, Fury relinquished his crown and walked away from the sport to deal with several personal issues. Although yours truly does not regard the term “Lineal” highly due to it’s subjective nature and how such labels are used more as a marketing tool, Fury remains the top fighter in the division not holding a world championship.

While a potential rematch for Fury with Deontay Wilder exists as a possibility for next year, this observer would like to see Fury face the winner of the upcoming rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua. In all truth and honesty, both fights are viable economically for Fury, I believe an encounter between him and the Ruiz-Joshua rematch winner might be the more viable of the two at the present time.

There are two primary reasons in my view. If Joshua were to regain the championship by beating Ruiz, both he and Fury are major stars in the UK Boxing scene and a fight between the two would likely fill one of England’s major stadiums. A win for Ruiz in the rematch against Joshua to retain his unified world championship would solidify his status as a world champion in the division and silence any and all skeptics who believe, despite Ruiz’ solid record and status as a top contender and former world title challenger prior to that fight, that he benefited from a world champion in Joshua having an off night. If Ruiz were to defeat Joshua a second time, that then opens a possibility for him to do something that has only been done once before in Boxing history. To stage a World Heavyweight championship fight in Mexico for only the second time following Sam Peter’s 2008 victory to win the WBC world championship over Oleg Maskaev.

A fight with Fury for Ruiz would further establish him as one of the stars in Boxing and if he were successful against Fury, it would then open the possibility for what the Boxing world has been waiting for. A fight to determine an Undisputed World Heavyweight champion.  Obviously, the two scenarios I have laid out in this column are for the time being hypothetical and not anything set in stone. If however, some of it were to come to fruition it would further cement the belief of many that the Heavyweight division is back at the forefront of the sport. There is a lot of intrigue in these potential fights and definitely a lot of money to be made.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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