By Jackie Kallen
As much as US boxing fans are holding their breath for an American to top the heap in the heavyweight division, one of the most compelling contenders is actually from the UK. Despite that fact, a lot of fans see Tyson Fury as the man to possibly replace Klitschko.
At 25 years old and standing at a sizeable 6’9″, he is undefeated in 22 bouts. More than half his wins were by KO and he is a handsome man, cut from the same mold as Klitschko. If only he could keep his weight down and look more fit, he’d be a more intimidating foe.
It would also help if the man named after Mike Tyson could boost up his defensive skills. Offensively he is strong and aggressive but he sometimes gets hits too easily and too often.
He recently fought 32 year-old American journeyman Joey Abell and stopped him in the fourth round. But Abell isn’t a Top 10 candidate to begin with so it wasn’t necessarily a meaningful win. It was just another step toward the title.
Boxrec.com lists Fury as the #4 contender in the division. He is one spot below Tomasz Adamek and two below Bulgarian Kubrat Kulev (19-0). Klitschko is still #1. Fellow UK heavyweight Dereck Chisora (20-4) is #6 and he and Fury are headed toward a title elimination fight. But Fury already beat Chisora in 2011 and since then Chisora has been beaten by both David Haye and Kitschko. He is not really very much of a threat.
It would help a lot of Tyson Fury’s physique looked more like Evander Holyfield’s than Buster Douglas’s. He seems to beef up easily and needs to work a bit harder to uncover his six-pack. Against Abell, he appeared soft and mushy. Cute for a teddybear, but not so cute for an athlete.
Weight problems have been an issue for Fury for years. In 2012, his weight ballooned way up and he blamed his bouts with depression as the source of his eating disorder. He went away to a strict training camp and slimmed down. But it appears that the weight has crept back on.
The All-American contenders in the Top 10 are Adamek (born in Poland), Bermane Stiverne (born in Haiti), southpaw Tony Thompson who is 42 years old, and Chris Arreola (who was beaten by Klitschko, Stiverne and Adamek.)
This leads us to Alabama’s Deontay Wilder, who is 32-0. but has basically been very well-protected and untested. I would love to see how he would do against Fury. He’s 6’7″ and is fit and cut. Also on the horizon is Philly’s Bryant Jennings, who is only 6’2″ but is undefeated at 18-0 (however with no really impressive names on his resume.)
In the near future, the heavyweight division should start to shake out. Klitschko will face 30-4 Samoan Alex Leapai in Germany in April. Kevin Johnson stopped Leapai a couple of years ago, so the Klitschko camp is not quaking in their boots.
There is something appealing about Fury besides his name. He seems like a sympathetic Rocky-like character. He was born prematurely and weighed only a little over one pound. His father (Gypsy John Fury) is in prison for gouging another man’s eye out and the family has gypsy ancestry and a love of fighting.
Fury admits to having a cocky attitude at times and says he has no desire to be a role model, except to his wife and two kids. He is a born-again Christian and claims his wife is lucky to be married to a “handsome stallion like me.”
I kind of like the guy. He is colorful, considers himself a pretty decent singer (check youtube.com for his post-fight performance in the ring last April) and he is highly quotable and controversial. Maybe he’s just what the heavyweight division needs.