Tyson Fury’s sophomoric antics were kept in check tonight as the well-prepared challenger executed a game plan predicated on length and movement to convincingly end Wladimir Klitschko’s nine-year reign as heavyweight champion.
Was the fight exciting? Until the last two rounds, absolutely not. Although this won’t be a dethroning that goes down in the pantheon of great boxing victories, it does provide something the heavyweight division has lacked for years — intrigue.
WLADIMIR BECOMES THE SMALL MAN FOR A CHANGE: Although Fury and Klitschko appeared to be the same height at the weigh-in, it was Fury who was the “bigger man” tonight. He nullified Klitschko’s jab by leaning back and constantly moving to keep Klitschko from getting set. The latter prevented Klitschko’s right hand from landing (on 18 power punches landed all night). And with his longer reach, Fury was able to jab without consequence.
NO PLAN B: Klitschko struggling with Fury’s awkwardness early on wasn’t a susprise, but the fact he couldn’t adjust proved shocking. He followed Fury around for long stretches and in many rounds was reduced to single digit connects. Fury’s confidence grew while Klitschko’s, hampered by bloody cuts from punches and butts, dimmed every round.
YOUR GREATEST ASSETS BECOMES YOUR DOWNFALL: Klitschko’s reign has been defined by two key traits: patience and caution. Wladimir was never reckless in the ring, methodically worked his jab, massive left hook and right hands. When the fights began heating up, he’d clinch to bring things back to easier pace.
Tonight, he was in with a foe that required him to jump out of his comfort zone. An opponent that had him fighting from behind on the cards, something foreign to both Klitschko brothers. As the rounds progressed, it become clear that Wladimir’s mindset prevented him from taking the risks needed to pull off a dramatic victory. Yes, Klitschko got in some hard right hands in the final round, but that was mostly a defensive reaction to Fury’s aggression over pursuing a KO.
INSULT TO INJURY: If a rematch happens, Wladimir Klitschko would be 40 years old when the bell rings. Is his heart still in the game? Granted, he wasn’t beaten badly from a physical standpoint, but he was clowned and easily shut down by a foe who trash-talked all the way through. Yes, the cliche of “great champions always bounce back” has been proven true through history. But at an age when most fighters are retired or mere shells of their former selves, Klitschko might be content to rest on his Hall of Fame laurels.
With that said, this stunt alone would have me wanting revenge.