Posts Tagged ‘heavyweight boxing’

fury-v-klitschko

We’re edging closer every day to the rematch between heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, and the man he deposed in November 2015, the then long-reigning heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko.

This fight has been a long time in the making, and then subsequent remaking, but as we edge closer there will surely be a lot of crossed fingers that the event actually takes place.

Originally scheduled for July 9th 2016, the bout had to be postponed due to Fury turning an ankle in training. The announcement of the injury came unfortunately coincided with a report that Fury had failed a drug test – prompting many to speculate that the ankle was a ruse to deflect from a pending drug ban. There were also suggestions that the ankle injury was down to Fury having been out partying following an England football match.

Such is the way with all things Tyson Fury related – there’s a lot of speculation, nay-saying, and flat out detracting from the man’s achievements that even if all reports of the ankle injury occurring during training were 100% true, many people would still be looking for an alternative.

Fury has always been a fighter that people either love or hate, there is no middle ground with him. Given his size, reported to be 6’9”, he’s not really a man who can easily hide away and do his work. Add to that his larger than life personality – whether just a public show or legitimate character trait – and his propensity for making statements based on whatever is on his mind, Fury has been a controversial figure during his career.

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Whether it’s making sexist remarks during award season, homophobic slurs in his tweets and press statements or comments about pedophilia or abortion – controversy and retaliatory attacks seem to follow the man around everywhere he goes.

All the while, Fury has done exactly what’s asked of a professional boxer in the ring – and that is win. Undefeated in 25 professional fights, and in possession of the WBA, WBO, IBO, The Ring and lineal world titles (it was also the IBF, of which he was stripped due to honoring the rematch clause with Klitschko instead of facing a mandatory) there is little else in the ring Fury could have done to silence his critics.

Those critics, who still feel the man is lucky to win every time he steps in the ring, will sadly never go away. Whether knocking the fact that he just happens to be bigger than most of his opponents, or taking aim at the fact that given his size he doesn’t put everyone to sleep with one punch, there just seems to be no way to win for the guy.

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Fury earned a shot at Klitschko by fighting his way to the top of the contenders list. He beat everyone placed in front of him, most with relative ease. Not bad for a guy who admitted that he really didn’t begin dedicating himself to his training until he’d already been a professional for a number of years. Not bad for a guy who openly admits a distaste for training and a propensity to “pork up” between fights.

In Klitschko, Fury took on a fighter who had not been defeated in over 11 years and had brushed aside the majority of his opponents with relative ease.

I can’t remember many people outside the Fury camp who favoured Fury to win in the build up to the pair’s first meeting. Such had been the manner in which Klitschko had dispatched his opponents, and the numerous question marks people raised over Fury’s ability that it seemed to be a forgone conclusion to most that the Ukrainian champion would continue his reign – and that retirement may be the only opponent capable of taking his titles away.

Instead what we saw was just the opposite. While the fight was no blockbuster, action packed bout the fans crave, it ended with a victory for the underdog. Fury had obviously studied the mechanical precision with which Klitschko fights.

Without detracting from Wlad’s fighting ability and incredible title reign, Fury saw a man who liked to fight in straight lines behind a strong jab and looked for a way to unsettle him. Using the old boxing philosophy that you can’t hit what you can’t see – Fury set about a fight of frustration for the champion.

Throughout the fight Fury moved, at times with a frenetic madness, but all the while not allowing his opponent to settle into any type of rhythm behind his strong jab. Fury’s head, shoulders, body and feet bobbed, twisted and jerked around the ring and left Klitschko’s jab flicking out at nothing but air. All the while he did just enough to win rounds – flicking out jabs here and there and some sideways shots as he twisted around the side of the champion.

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Fury planned to frustrate Klitschko and use his superior foot speed to simply stay away from danger. It worked and it gave Fury the belts he had sought and claimed were there for the taking throughout his career.

Now they’re finally ready for taking center stage again in a long awaited rematch and I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens.

Klitschko will undoubtedly have drilled to find a way to land punches should Fury decide to twitch and jerk his way around the ring again. Should Fury adopt similar tactics we could see a more sustained body attack from Klitschko in an attempt to slow down the new champion so he can begin trying to wear him down. If he is successful in this, slowing Fury’s movement would effectively allow Klitschko to begin working the jab and setting the pace of the fight.

The big question comes about how Fury will approach the fight. Will he go with similar tactics to the first fight, or will he go looking for a fight to show everyone that he can beat Klitschko based on his boxing skills?

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Fury took a good shot from Klitschko in the closing rounds of the last fight and was not troubled by the shot. Given that he’s felt his foes power before and feels confident he can take more risks, there is a chance we will see a more open and fighting Tyson Fury in this bout.

The fans will surely be looking for a fight with more action than their first meeting. While many can surely appreciate Fury’s reasons for playing it safe last time around given that he was fighting on the champion’s home turf, there was definitely an air of frustration that they didn’t see any significant shots being thrown or landed until the fight was coming to its conclusion.

With home field advantage this time around, the belts already around his waist and the fact that in the past Fury has seemed to relish getting into a good old scrap, I think we may see a more open fight this time with both fighters looking to impose their will and land some heavy shots.

Neither man will be hoping for a scorecard decision in this fight, nor may it come down to who can take the other’s punches the best. There have been questions raised about Fury’s chin after he was put on the canvas by Steve Cunningham – although if you watch that fight back, Fury was more interested in mugging for the crowd than he was in fighting and he got caught by a consummate professional.

Then there is Klitschko, who has been stopped 3 times in his career as well as being put on his seat 3 times in his first fight with Samuel Peter.

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So, while there have been question marks raised about Fury’s chin in spite of the fact he’s never been stopped, or appeared close to being stopped, his upcoming opponent has a history of being stopped in fights where he opened up and attacked. So much so that it took the late, great, Emanuel Steward coming into Klitschko’s corner and shoring up his defense to allow him to embark on his long championship reign.

Since Steward’s death, Klitschko has primarily adopted the same style laid out for him by his old trainer. However, in arguably Klitschko’s best performance in several years he did adopt a more aggressive approach in his fight with Kubrat Pulev – putting Pulev down 3 times before ending the fight in the 5th round with a huge left hook.

Challenger Bulgarian heavyweight boxer Pulev lies in the ring after being knocked down by Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight boxing world champion Klitschko after their title fight in Hamburg

In the build up to the fight Pulev talked a lot about not letting Klitschko win ugly by tying him up constantly as he did with Alexander Povetkin, then also missed one of the pressers. Did he anger Klitschko to the point that the champion decided to open up and unload on him? If so, will avenging his loss to Fury bring a more aggressive Klitschko out from the opening bell?

A more aggressive Klitschko means a more aggressive Fury and with that combination we are all winners.

 

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Saparena-boxen

The heavyweight boxing division, once the proud flagship division of the sport, has lost its place at the top of the pile in recent years. The announcement through the Ukrin News Agency on October 24th that WBC Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko plans to run for Ukranian presidency in 2015 has shone a dull light back on the division and brought a question to my mind. What happened to the heavyweight division?

What happened? Well that depends upon your level of belief of what you read, or even what you hear from commentators during other boxing matches. The fall of the heavyweight division could be blamed on a lack of competition behind the dominant Klitschko brothers. This is the most common opinion I hear, and usually comes from commentary being conducted during other boxing bouts.

It could be a sign of the times. Much like changes in fashion, musical taste and art appreciation going in cycles, appreciation of the art of boxing could also be cyclical.

With many fans these days tuning into the lighter weight classes, typically from the Welterweight (147lb) division to the Super Middleweight (168lb) division, it could be that current boxing fans are after fast paced action and see the heavyweight division as too slow and lumbering to hold their attention. As CDC reports have shown a 22% increase in ADHD diagnoses between 2003 and 2007 it is entirely possible that there could be an inability amongst fans to pay attention for long periods of time if there is not constant action. This could go some way to explaining a shift in popularity from the slower heavyweights to the fast paced lighter fighters.

Another explanation could be jealousy. Jealousy of what?

Let’s take a look at October’s heavyweight boxing divisions top 10 challengers, as listed through the International Boxing Organization.

  1. Alexander Povetkin (Russia)
  2. Robert Helenius (Finland)
  3. Tomasz Adamek (Poland)
  4. Kubrat Pulev (Bulgaria)
  5. Tyson Fury (United Kingdom)
  6. Odlanier Solis Fonte (Cuba)
  7. Anthony (Tony) Thompson (U.S.A.)
  8. Vyacheslav Glazkov (Ukraine)
  9. Bermaine Stiverne (Canada)
  10. Chris Arreola (U.S.A.)

Ten fighters lining up to gain a shot at gaining a heavyweight boxing title. Ten fighters and just two American’s on the list, both of whom have lost recent challenges against a Klitschko brother. Could it be possible that a level of jealousy about the heavyweight division having slipped from America’s grasp be behind the continued announcement by boxing commentators that the heavyweight division is lacking in strength.

American does have a long running affinity with the heavyweight division, one that could lead many to feel that the one time flagship division “belonged” to America. In fact, since John L. Sullivan was recognized as the first heavyweight champion toward the end of the 19th century, in spite of there being no official ranking system, each decade since has consisted of American dominance within the heavyweights.

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The early 1900s saw James Jeffries and Jack Johnson creating an American stranglehold on the division. Johnson’s reign as champion would actually continue into the following decade as he held the strap until 1914. From 1919 to the mid 1920s, Jack Dempsey ruled the heavyweights until his countryman and great rival Gene Tunney took over to close out the decade. The 1930s saw the start of a record breaking title run from Joe Louis that would continue into the late 1940s. Enter Rocky Marciano, who took over in the 1950s, followed by Floyd Patterson (1950s-60s) and Muhammad Ali (1960s). Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Ali again would take American dominance of the heavyweight championship into the late 1970s. Larry Holmes continued the American stranglehold to take the title into the 1980s and then passed the torch along to Mike Tyson.

After over 100 years of heavyweight dominance, the American stranglehold began to slip from the mid 1990s on. The titles passed back and forth across the Atlantic and while American’s have held titles at various times since then, there has been no dominant American champion present themselves. That dominance passed to the U.K.’s Lennox Lewis, then to the Klitschko brothers.

For many, America is the home of boxing. Without a dominant heavyweight champion stemming from the United States, it seems the boxing public has slowly begun to forget about the division. It has led to calls that the division is dead as the focus has shifted to the lighter, and predominantly American dominated, weight classes.

Whether you believe that the heavyweight division is dead, sleeping or simply moving along nicely under the radar, it is undeniable that the gloss the giants of boxing once held has dulled significantly. I don’t buy into the belief that the heavyweight division is dead. Inn fact, despite the drop in public opinion, the level of competition within the heavyweight division is high and growing stronger by the day. That, however, is a story for another day.