By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
TYSON FURY’S FIRST TITLE DEFENSE
One has to wonder how Britain’s Anthony Joshua getting pummeled by the new unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine and losing all of his belts in a fight that many predicted would be a walkover for A.J., is going to affect the psyche of the current WBC champion Tyson Fury, the British compatriot of Joshua’s who (surprisingly to some) has actually never defended a world heavyweight title belt, despite being a two-time champ.
Fury first held the unified WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, and The Ring titles after defeating the aging, long-time champ Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. He twice failed to honor signed rematches with the dethroned Ukrainian champion due to a variety of personal problems, including narcotics addiction, alcoholism, and depression, and ended up surrendering the belts due to inactivity, failed drug tests, and failure to fight his mandatory opponents.
Fury later regained a world title belt in 2020 with his rematch victory over former WBC champion Deontay Wilder of the USA, who he faces again next weekend to complete their heavyweight trilogy.
Joshua’s devastating–and unexpected by most boxing “experts”–loss to Usyk only heaps more pressure on Fury, the man who many deem responsible for the scuppering of a proposed heavyweight mega-fight with “A.J.”–a bout that will now likely never have the same appeal as it would have before Joshua got blitzed and schooled by Usyk.
Joshua, of course, has come back from defeat before, after losing his titles to Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr., who dethroned him in June 2019, only to lose in a rematch in December of that year. Ruiz, however, had ballooned up to nearly 300 pounds and refused to train for the rematch. But it would be very foolish to assume that former undisputed cruiserweight champion and Olympic gold medallist Oleksandr Usyk is similarly going to let becoming the unified heavyweight champion of the world go to his head.
For now, Tyson Fury now has the weight of trying to keep at least one title belt in the UK–which has taken over from Germany, the home of the heavyweight division during the Klitschko brothers’ reign– on his shoulders. Joshua is apparently planning on an immediate rematch and might take a worse beating now that Usyk knows what to expect. Unless A.J. drastically changes his approach (and somehow finds a new chin!), it’s hard to see the result changing next time. Even Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn seems to recognize this. Usyk is just too good.
So the pressure on Fury next weekend will be IMMENSE. Deontay Wilder, love him or hate him, can stop not just Fury, but freeze out the entire UK heavyweight boxing scene, with one punch. And there is no doubt as to Wilder’s punch power.
Anthony Joshua dethroned: A stark warning for Tyson Fury?
TYSON FURY “MINDS HIS OWN BUSINESS” (!!!)
So how will Fury react to his now changed situation?
In a press conference this week, Fury struck an uncharacteristically reserved tone. He had very little to say about the Joshua loss, hilariously stating that he always “minds his own business” (anyone who has heard Fury’s ranting interviews, filled with put-downs of other fighters as “big dossers” and “bums” over the years, should have been roaring in laughter at that line).
Journalists in the presser tried in vain to get Fury to react to Joshua’s humiliation and Wilder’s angry pronouncements about their upcoming fight. Fury wasn’t having it.
It feels as if, having seen what happened to Joshua at the hands of Usyk, Fury is unwilling to further tempt fate. The shock of seeing his British compatriot lose his belts to Usyk has obviously made a deep impression. Fury kept bringing the presser back to the one thing on his mind: the danger the powerful Deontay Wilder poses as a man who only needs one punch to end any fight he’s in. Unlike Joshua, Fury wasn’t looking ahead. Any topic other than the Wilder fight would have to wait for another day.
If the build-up to the Joshua-Usyk bout was unusually quiet, the aftermath of the fight was the exact opposite. Boxing “experts” had already proven that they don’t know anything more than the rest of the world by almost universally writing off Usyk before he had even stepped into the ring. They reacted with a mixture of shock and embarrassment at Usyk’s dominant performance.
Red-faced scribes scrambled in the aftermath of the fight to try to ascertain why their pick had failed so badly. Some even found fault with Joshua’s ring walk, finding his relaxed air as he strode to meet Usyk while fist-bumping with friends and family unbecoming for a heavyweight champ. Lennox Lewis had his thousand yard-stare, Vitali Klitschko rang “Hell’s Bells,” but AJ lacked the proper seriousness, and wasn’t menacing enough for a heavyweight champion, according to some experts.
Perhaps closer to the mark was Peter Fury, uncle of Tyson and father of another heavyweight contender, Hughie. According to Fury, Joshua had misinterpreted Usyk’s previous bout against Dereck Chisora, where the Ukrainian looked a bit rusty after an injury layoff, and while winning, was at times pressed hard by the veteran British heavyweight (Chisora had also given a prime, pre-injury Robert Helenius a tough time, and even pushed Vitali Klitschko hard in their one meeting).
Joshua attended the Chisora-Usyk fight and in the aftermath of a tough win by the Ukrainian, indicated that Usyk would be no problem for him. How wrong he was.
DID JOSHUA BELIEVE HIS OWN PRESS?
In fact, the evidence going into the Usyk vs Joshua bout was that, as he was when he made his debut on American soil and got battered by Andy Ruiz, Joshua was once again looking past an opponent.
Even a few days before the fight, the boxing headlines read, “ANTHONY JOSHUA: I’LL DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO FIGHT TYSON FURY.” The UK press especially was stroking the champ’s ego, and once again he seemed guilty of believing his own hype — the press line that Usyk was a mere obstacle to be brushed aside on his way to the megafight with Tyson Fury that had once been so agonizingly close.
UK boxing impresario Eddie Hearn, who had just signed Joshua to a lifetime promotional deal, even got in on the act, dismissing Usyk as a blown-up cruiserweight who would never be an authentic player in the heavyweight division!
From early on in their meeting, when Usyk shocked the champ by knocking him across the ring, A.J. appeared to be shocked, if not fearful.. Usyk wasn’t listening to the press. He wasn’t the guy Joshua had been told by almost everyone to expect. He was, despite his often playful demeanor outside of the ring, what Peter Fury called a very “serious guy” and a brilliant boxing technician.
By the end of last Saturday evening, Joshua would again be an ex-champion.
He had failed on two of the biggest fight nights of his career: his American debut against Ruiz, and his meeting with the former undisputed cruiserweight king in front of 70,000 people in London.
Send this to a friend