Apparently Tyson Fury figures that the best way to boxing fans’ hearts is through HIS mouth. Another notable British pugilist advises strongly against it.
For a fighter whose two best pro wins have come against fighters who, together, were able to win just one round from all three judges in title challenges to Vitali Klitschko, Fury is quite boisterous indeed. At the same time, he is an undefeated fighter, and just one fight win away from boxing himself into the IBF’s #2 position in the ratings.
Just recently, Fury has referred to Wladimir Klitschko as a “bitch” and David Haye as a “pathetic loser” in interviews, and in the pre-fight buildup to his encounter with Steve Cunningham, which is billed an IBF “eliminator” of sorts, continued to exhibit the bravado, half-baked or not.
“I hit him, he hits the floor, Tyson Fury hits New York,” he says.
If it were only going to be that easy.
Fury’s mouth even has crossover venom.
Not content to bad-mouth those in his own chosen profession, Fury is taking shots at mixed martial artists. He’s also taken dead aim at UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and the sport he participates in.
“MMA, to me, is bullshit. It’s for people who can’t box and like wrestling on the floor. It’s rubbish,” he told ESPN.com, adding that while he has challenged Velasquez to a fight repeatedly, “He’s a little bot who doesn’t want to fight.”
This weekend, frankly, he will have bigger fish to fry if he plans to “bring back the glory days to heavyweight boxing,” as he puts it. .
On Saturday afternoon he will have a chance to show what he can do in front of live American audiences for the first time, as he takes on former cruiserweight champion Cunningham, who himself defeated another former cruiserweight champion (Tomasz Adamek) to get into this position. Fury says he’ll retire if he doesn’t stop Cunningham.
If that’s what happens, he’ll have the attention of many, because the bout is on the biggest stage possible: Madison Square Garden and the NBC network, the TV outlet on which Cunningham pulled out a controversial split decision win over Adamek that more or less established him in the heavyweight division. And Cunningham is fighting practically the biggest opponent possible, as Fury stands 6’9″ and should weigh about 250 pounds.
But Cunningham, who is “only” 6’3″, may represent a big step up in terms of pure boxing ability from recent Fury opponents like Kevin Johnson, Vinny Maddalone and Martin Rogan.
He also perfectly comfortable in going the 12-round distance, having done so in nine of his last eleven fights. Fury has seen the twelfth round only twice, against Johnson and Dereck Chisora, the two fighters who came, who saw, and who couldn’t score many points against the elder Klitschko. Let’s put it this way: if he were to fail in the latter rounds and drop from exhaustion, he wouldn’t be the first heavyweight who came into the fight with a lot of hype to do so.
Then again, if Fury were to muscle Cunningham around the ring, it wouldn’t be the first time a cruiserweight had overextended his reach and was overcome by pure size. For all his over-achievement in the heavyweight division, the aforementioned Adamek had an impossible time dealing with Vitali, who stopped him in ten rounds in September 2011.
To show you how old many of us are getting, Fury says he was actually named after former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Since he was born in 1988, shortly after the “other” Tyson retain his undisputed title with a first-round demolition of Michael Spinks, that would seem believable.
As for anything else he utters; well, let’s just say the jury is still out.
Fury has been able to talk himself plenty into the British tabloids, but reporters in America look upon visitors from overseas, particularly those who they suspect may be faking it until they make it, with a lot more skepticism.
Amir Khan, current WBC “Silver” champion at 140 pounds, who was worshipped by many in the U.K. before eventually being brought down to earth in the States, can speak from experience coming by way of observation, and he has tried to be of counsel to Fury, albeit through the media.
He told the U.K.’s Sun tabloid, “If he is in America early in his career and talking big like he is a world champion already or the best pound-for-pound people are going to hate on him and that could be a bad thing.”
It’s a VERY bad thing if he doesn’t perform. While Cunningham might not have the size or pure power to button up that lip for good, there are observers here in the U.S. who think he may just be able to send Fury back across the pond a changed man.