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Tyson Fury: The Wrong Stuff at the Right Time

Tyson Fury
Photo Courtesy of AP

Whenever a long standing champion is finally dethroned, it is expected that the derailment of the status quo was a violent one or at least a brilliant one. That isn’t always the case, but by and large, that is the first emotion the floods our hearts before our mind begins to take over, telling us to settle down, because not everything is always as it seems.

In the case of Tyson Fury and his dethroning of longtime former champion Wladimir Klitschko — even while tempering our expectations — the resulting changing of the guard was the exact opposite of what fans of combative sports hope for in a title fight.

For the full 12 rounds, Fury and Klitschko did very little to inspire us, spending most of their time in the ring co-authoring a debacle that looked far less like a fight than it did as it did two grown men trying to take their shirts off each other in some hideous pantomime.

Tyson Fury, Wladmir Klitschko

Photo Courtesy of AP

Sometimes that happens, even to the best of fighters. But in those situations, we like to think they can call a spade a spade and rededicate themselves to earning the accolades that come with the crown, as so many other great champions have done before them.

Now, it appears that Tyson Fury, the new champion, has decided it is time to trump those lofty ideals, established by “has been” champions of the past, in favor of a new mindset that sells the fiction of pre-fight promotion as fact and reduces the facts, established in the ring, as nothing more than fiction.

Fury should be a man about the business of cementing himself as a great champion, especially considering how much legitimate doubt surrounds his ascension to the throne. Instead, he is calling out former champions, 50 years of age and 12 years retired, rather than facing his young contemporaries, like Deontay Wilder, owner of the WBC heavyweight title.

There’s a chance Fury is doing this because he knows Wilder can defeat him. Rather than rise to that occasion, he would rather keep the titles around his waist as long as possible by calling out men old enough to be his father because that is the easy way to establish a “reign,” no matter how dubious it is.

It’s also possible that Fury is still in disbelief that he won the championship to begin with. Given his bare bones effort against Klitschko saw him win the title — and in turn afflicted the boxing world with a new champion that merely gave us the greater of two lesser efforts — Fury is the walking embodiment of the ideal that says “every dog has his day.”

Or “even a broken watch is right twice a day.”

Or whatever.

When Fury won the title, he did so at precisely the right time, in exactly the right era, far removed from the days when the division would have chewed him up and spit him out numerous times before he was even within shouting distance of a top 10 ranking.

He possesses length of frame, power and the daring required to get into the ring, which should be commended. He would be on a much greater level if it weren’t for his ridiculous claims of being the best heavyweight fighter to ever come out of Britain. His unrealistic claims of being an “action fighter” don’t help him much either.

Winning the title with such a minimalist effort could be forgiven, and redeemed, if he were about making himself better and challenging himself by facing the best in the division — as is expected of a champion. Instead, he is trying to retain the belt for as long as possible by taking standards that were previously high and dropping them so close to the floor that we might stumble over them.

Case in point is his calling out of Lennox Lewis.

“I don’t care how old he is,” says Fury. “If he’s that good let him come back and beat George Foreman’s record.”

From seemingly out of the blue, Fury is reinstating Lewis as the man to beat, trying to shift all the focus and responsibility that comes with being a champion onto the shoulders of a retired great. Fury is selling it all as justified indignation so we will clamor to see him right an imagined wrong, rather than see him face a champion like Wilder, who is his age and is clearly calling him out.

“I’m gonna beat you so bad, your own mama won’t recognize you,” said Wilder recently.

Instead of addressing Wilder, he’s turning away and looking to recruit from the seniors division because he would clearly prefer that time and old age do his work for him.

It’s honestly a shame because Fury could really be something special; a heavyweight champion that creates a legacy by force, at the expense of his peers in the terms of age and accomplishment. Instead, he would rather try and claim authority over the accomplishments of great men years passed by defeating the old men they have become today.

It’s ironic how much legitimacy the “has been” fighters seem to have. After all, why else would the new heavyweight champion be calling them out if they didn’t have something he needed?

Perhaps it’s because they earned what they received, and he simply doesn’t have the stomach to work for it.

Or, perhaps he knows that you might get to show up on the right day, with the wrong stuff, and win the title, but you don’t get to keep it that way.

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