Tyson Fury is the best of his era, but missed opportunities keep him out of the GOAT discussion

The eye-opening nature of Tyson Fury’s one-hit knockout of Dillian Whyte last weekend in front of 94,000 fans in London reminded boxing fans of two things: ‘The Gypsy King’ remains the face of this heavyweight era of Renaissance, however many titles he has, and Fury could be on his way to being included among the greatest in sports history.

However, Fury’s historical relevance has become a much-debated topic this week in and around barbershops and boxing podcasts.

Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) defended his WBC and lineal crowns with relative ease against battle-tested Whyte (28-3, 19 KOs), finishing him off with a magnificent right uppercut in Round 6. The performance fully presented the the continued evolution of champion from pure boxer to powerful puncher under the tutelage of trainer SugarHill Steward and only increased Fury’s excitement level to finally face the winner of this summer’s Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch for undisputed supremacy.

Victory was also just another feather in the hat for Fury, a native of England, whose life and career have become almost Paul Bunyan-esque for their improbability.

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Look no further than Fury’s lost weekend throughout 2016 and 2017 when he vacated his trio of world titles after upsetting Wladimir Klitschko and bulking up to 400lbs amid depression and depression. substance addiction. The fact that Fury even recovered from that, let alone returned to capture the heavyweight title, feels like a story in its own right. Add to the fact that Fury fights like a middleweight despite his 6-foot-9 frame while sporting a full-time “daddy bod” only adds to the growing legend of this atypical fighter.

So, it would be fair if the 33-year-old Fury’s case for possible inclusion in the upper house of boxing’s greatest heavyweight champions was equally anomalous.

On the face of it, no, it remains far too premature to include Fury in any kind of top 5 or 10 list due to his lack of resume on elite names since turning pro. in 2008. The demolition of Whyte certainly pairs well for Fury with his upset of Klitschko and his 2-0-1 record against Deontay Wilder (including two by stoppage) as career highlights. But backing up wins over Steve Cunningham, Dereck Chisora ​​(twice) and a tougher-than-expected case against Otto Wallin just aren’t enough.

Fury’s career so far might be just as notable for the fighters he didn’t end up fighting as the ones we’re lucky enough to have seen.

In addition to the three-year gap between Klitschko and Wilder fights, he lost 2019 to soft matchmaking before sitting out another 18 months during the pandemic between the second and third fights with Wilder. Even before fighting Klitschko, Fury lost most of 2013 when a scheduled challenge against former champion David Haye fell apart several times due to Haye’s injuries.

And then there’s the Klitschko rematch from 2016 which Fury initially withdrew from due to a sprained ankle until it was later revealed he had failed a drug test. cocaine before the fight. Fury was also suspended after testing positive for a banned steroid in a 2015 test that was only made public after it was announced he was quitting the sport.

Although the division is deeper than it has been in two decades, Fury’s side traps have kept him from facing a number of title contenders and former champions who could have strengthened his case, like Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, Joseph Parker, Andy Ruiz Jr.., Carlos Takam and Kubrat Pulev, to name a few. Fury has never even fought talkative rival David Price, a 6-foot-8 puncher who defeated Fury in the amateurs and once held great promise as a pro prospect until his chin issues forced him to retire.

Fury may have been masterful in his biggest wins, especially in his post-long exile period, but that doesn’t change his inconsistency in his initial rise to the title as his weight and commitment fluctuated regularly.

Heavyweights considered among the best of all time

*Fighters are listed in no particular order

Mohamed Ali

56-5 (37 KOs)

Joe Louis

66-3 (52 KOs)

Rocky Marciano

49-0 (43 KOs)

Wladimir Klitschko

64-5 (53 KOs)

lennox lewis

41-2-1 (32 KOs)

Jack Dempsey

64-6-9 (5 KOs)

Jack Johnson

68-11-11 (34 KB)

Joe Frazier

32-4-1 (27 KOs)

George Foreman

76-5 (68 KOs)

Evander Holyfield

44-10-1 (29 KOs)

But that’s only half the argument. And while the other side of the coin is a bit more of a hipster argument given the unknowns involved (and the imagination to be trusted in the eyesight test), Fury’s case is still pretty solid in that regard. concerning the mythical confrontations.

Forget the debate over whether a 6-foot-9 heavyweight with fast feet and an 85-inch reach could compete in any given era. Fury is a unicorn even by the standards of the current super heavyweight era, which former champions like Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe helped usher in in the 1990s.

Fury can switch stances at will and dispatch an opponent just as deftly as he can rely on his tenacity to stand up and trade for bigger punchers. If there was ever a weakness in Fury’s game beyond his self-sabotaging tendencies outside of the ring, he even filled that hole by improving his power and figuring out how to become an elimination threat. direct.

The juxtaposition of Fury’s size mixed with his great pound-for-pound skill and IQ means he’d be a handful for just about every heavyweight from Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey to Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, even if you don’t favor it outright. to win everyone. It’s a currency that goes a long way in boxing debates and could help Fury’s long-term chances, especially if he were to retire undefeated.

Rocky Marciano already achieved the same feat when he retired in 1956 at age 31 with a 49-0 record and has consistently made the top 10 list of best heavyweights in history. Yet at 5-foot-10 and just 188 pounds, no one would believe Marciano could ever compete with modern stars who are so much taller.

It’s a problem Fury just doesn’t have, which is why he needs to focus from now on and try to match or surpass the resume of greats like Marciano that he would need to pass to get in. in heavyweight immortality.

Which brings us to Fury’s most recent flirtation with the walking path. While his intentions to keep a potential promise to his wife Paris to retire seem pure, it’s hard to believe Fury would go through with it.

A fighter at heart who claims to be a descendant of bare-knuckle champions within his Irish voyageur heritage, Fury is too much of a contender to void his titles after coming this far to see someone else become the first champion. undisputed of the four. -era of the belt.

Fury seems much more interested in going the exhibition route, likely for the alleged windfall of money that could come from a mixed-rules fight against UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. But somewhere along the way, Fury will have to make his own decision about completing the unfinished business that still awaits him.

While he can’t do anything to change the past as to who he’s fought, Fury could so much better improve his all-time argument by committing a few years to active competition to add as many elite wins. remaining as possible. It starts with the undisputed championship fight which simply cannot be overlooked as a negative strike against him if he decides to hang up.

Knowing Fury’s history against the grain, his next move is really anyone’s guess. But make no mistake, he’s on the cusp of the story thanks to his recent run, and he might be the only one who can derail if he decides to max out his remaining time.