Sunday, June 23, 2024

Tyson Fury: The rise to Oleksandr Usyk bout and undisputed shot

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On size alone, Fury should be a clear favourite against former cruiserweight king Usyk, however a lacklustre performance and controversial points win against boxing debutant Francis Ngannou in October has tightened the odds.

Fury has been here before though; his ability has consistently been questioned and each time he has come up with answers.

It wasn’t seven straight stoppage wins that attracted attention in the early part of his career. Instead an uppercut that glanced off journeyman Lee Swaby’s guard and into Fury’s own face became an unwanted viral moment.

In his eighth bout, Fury was fortunate to be awarded a points win over John McDermott – who Price later knocked out in the first round – for the British title.

“McDermott definitely should have won,“ Price says.

“After that performance people were leaning towards me as the Brit to go on and do better things. Tyson just didn’t appear to be very technically well rounded. He seemed a bit clumsy.”

Fury’s unbeaten run continued but his credentials to challenge at the very top appeared lacking when he was dropped by the unknown Neven Pajkic in 2011 and by blown-up cruiserweight Steve Cunningham two years later.

“Nobody back then thought Tyson could win a world title,” Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton – who knew Fury from the amateurs and was well on his way to winning the first of his two world titles at the time – says.

But Fury’s defensive skills, elusive agility and remarkable power of recovery have kept him rising and his record running. He has 34 wins from 35 professional fights, with a 2018 draw against Deontay Wilder the only slight hiccup.

When Ngannou’s overhand left sent Fury crashing to the canvas for the seventh time as a professional in October, he rose to his feet, regrouped and did the job.

Just as he did against Pakjic, Cunningham and on four occasions, across three fights, against Wilder.

Price believes Fury performs best when his back is up against the wall.

“That close call against Ngannou was probably the best thing that could have happened to Fury at this stage,” Price says.

“He has that chip on his shoulder again. The one he had early on his career when he wanted to prove people – including me – wrong.”

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