Britain’s undefeated Tyson Fury dethroned heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday. Klitschko had been unbeaten in eleven years, and held the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles all at once.
Standing at 6ft 6 inches and weighing in at 17 stone, he entered the ring; even at 39 the Ukrainian was still heavily muscled and seemed to have very little, if any at all of his athleticism. At one point in time he and his big brother Vitali held all four of the heavyweight belts between them.
Wladimir had won 64 fights, 53 by KO, and with his brother and WBC-holder Vitali retiring in 2013; the fourth title was up for grabs. It was assumed by most that Wladimir would pick up the WBC title and accordingly hold all four belts until he retired.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Wladimir – many pundits labelled him a boring fighter as his hit and hold tactics, while effective, had little appeal to the masses. He was even blacklisted by two major American boxing networks because of his repetitious style. HBO and Showtime both stopped screening his fights for nearly five years and it was only this year that HBO finally began screening Wladimir Klitschko fights when he took on American boxer Bryant Jennings – a fight that was a lot closer than expected.
So with that background, it’s no surprise that so few were willing to predict a win for Britain’s Tyson Fury when the pair went knuckle to knuckle on Saturday November 28. Fury stands at 6ft 9 inches tall and weighs 18 stone; he is an undefeated fighter that has won 25 fights. The 27-year-old Manchester born boxer is a bigger man in stature than the already huge champion.
Shockingly in the first four rounds it was the champion that looked scared. He usually enjoys his height and weight advantage and more importantly, with an 81-inch reach, he can usually rely on the luxury to punch without having to worry about what is coming back. But this fight was different. With his challenger’s 85-inch reach, there was a clear tentativeness on Wladimir’s behalf to commit offensively, which had him losing the first four rounds – not the start anyone could have imagined.
By Round 5, Tyson seemed comfortable in the ring and as the right hooks started flying he wasn’t landing everything, but his increase in activity wasn’t going unnoticed by the judges.
Tyson’s increase in activity undoubtedly contributed to his win.
In the 9th round, the champion (at the time) Wladimir landed his best punch of the fight that connecting cleanly on his challenger’s cheek and followed through with another to the neck. Not to be out done during his title shot, the Manchester man fired back with a huge left hook that pushed Wladimir on to the ropes and back on the defensive.
In the 11th and 12th it seemed like Wladimir Klitschko finally conjured up a bit of urgency about him and tried to punch more, knowing that he needed to knock his challenger out to keep his titles and have his eleven fear reign continue indefinitely.
But it wasn’t to be as the two wrestled the time away. At the final bell everyone in the stadium and watching on TV knew there was going to be a new heavyweight champion crowned that night, with many new and exciting fight possibilities being opened as a result of the belt passing over into new hands.
The face of a defeated man, Klitschko’s eleven years of being unbeaten came to an end on the 28th November, 2015.