We should have known better than to doubt Tyson Fury.
Fury, the self-proclaimed Gypsy Warrior, the man who comes across as something between completely delusional and irrationally confident beyond all belief, stepped into a boxing ring in Germany and did what nobody but he truly believed he could.
And if you think he’s even a tiny bit surprised by his victory, you don’t understand Fury, even a little bit.
That’s the genius of Tyson Fury, I think. He’s not Ronda Rousey, the angry, insecure bully who is looking to fill her empty soul with all of the adulation and money available to her, in hopes it will make her whole. He’s not Conor McGregor, who thinks he’s the second coming and, based on his last fight, appears to fight with the kind of crazy bravery and sheer cajones he’s gonna need to beat Jose Aldo. If nothing else, he’s willing to die with his boots on, and that says a lot, all on it’s own. Tyson Fury is something else. He knows exactly what he’s doing, even when he doesn’t. He’s also nuts enough to think he’s the best heavyweight fighter on the earth, despite any evidence to support such a claim. At turns both batshit crazy and the slyest fox around. He talked about knocking Wlad out and being the bully and all of that, but Tyson is way too smart to actually employ that gameplan. He knew exactly what was required of him in this fight and he trained to carry that plan out. Truth is, you never can be totally sure if this guy is putting on a show or if he’s completely serious. It’s his own brand of crazy magic, and it makes him impossibly fascinating.
Yes, Tyson Fury did everything he could to talk himself into a fight he may or may not have deserved, based on his actual boxing resume. He talked endless shit about pretty much everyone. He sang in the ring after victories. He dressed up like Batman. He posts homophobic hate speech on social media. He says and does pretty much whatever he wants. He did everything but call Wlad’s mother an astronaut, and even as I type this I feel compelled to double-check that last one to make sure it didn’t actually happen.
He did more than that, though. He didn’t just brag and boast and glorify himself. He showed plenty of ass, too. One of Fury’s cagiest traits is that he is content to be thought the fool. He’s not afraid of making himself look, dumb, crazy, immature, whatever. He had one goal in mind, and he was down with doing whatever it took to make that happen. If he happened to look like the village idiot, so be it. If he wants to dress up as a superhero and carry out an absurd skit in front of the world boxing media, he’s gonna do it.
And as it turned out, he knew exactly what the fuck he as doing all along.
On the eve of the fight, Fury told the world that he’d hang ’em up if he didn’t beat Wlad. Now, did he mean it? Maybe, maybe not. That’s old sly Ty, always working the angles. He never stops.
Any you know what’s the craziest part about all of this? It isn’t just that he defeated Wladimir Klitschko, decisively, in what amounted to a road game in the man’s adopted homeland. It’s that, when all was said and done, this crazy, arrogant, delusional motherfucker was right. About everything. Right that Wlad had never faced a good big man. Right about Wlad being old and this being a young man’s game. 100% on the money about negating his jab and his reach, since Wlad was used to being the taller, longer, stronger fighter. Right about not being intimidated by a guy who hadn’t lost in a decade and had turned away 19 consecutive challengers to the throne. Tyson Fury was right about everything.
I mean, the fucking balls on this guy.
That’s why this is the best thing to happen to boxing since, oh I dunno, gloves were invented. In a sport that dwells firmly in the realm of cold, hard, reality, Tyson Fury made his own reality. He talked himself, willed himself, tricked himself even, into thinking he could beat a man against whom he held no discernable advantage other than a wild, stupid faith in himself.
A word on that, actually. On those who think Dr. Klitschko lost because he got, as the saying goes, “old in one night” in this fight. When that happens, as it did so famously in the Roy Jones/Antonio Tarver rematch or a million other fights, it mainfests itself in the form of a fighter becoming slow, feeble or weak of chin. You know, “the flesh was unwilling” and all of that. Let’s be clear on this, now. Wladimir Klitschko didn’t get old tonight. He wasn’t tapped on his famously sensitive chin or beat to the punch because he had lost his reflexes.
None of that.
Instead, after ten years of using his formidable size advantage and sturdy jab to chop smaller, less talented guys down, inch by inch, he found himself without his proverbial security blanket. On this night, he found himself punching upward, toward a taller, hungrier man who also possessed enough skills outside of his height to fire off his own jab and, just as importantly, make Klitschko miss on his. As the rounds wore on, it became evident that for Wladimir, a man so accustomed to winning in the exact manner he always does, there was no plan B. Well, there was, but it involved doing nothing but going through the motions and resigning himself to defeat, which one can only assume was a better course of action for him than the one that would involve pressing the action and putting his soft, brittle face in harms’ way. At the end of the day, he wasn’t so much old or diminished as he was lacking in valor. For a man of his power and strength, this fight was always within reach for him as long as he was willing to risk his consciousness. He never was. As surprising as it was in real time, upon reflection it became apparent about halfway through the fight that Wlad had, pardon the pun, no fight in him tonight. Call it what you want, just don’t call it getting old. And old man can still go down fighting. This guy took his defeat lying down instead of being made to actually lie down for the ten second nap.
Now, I’m not neccesarily suggesting that he was exposed tonight, but you’d be hard pressed not to wonder, based on this outcome, about what would have happened if this fight had taken place, one, two or even five years ago. Would the outcome have been the same? For that matter, what happens if Klitschko runs into someone of his size and (relative) skill sooner? In some ways, this fight reminds me a lot of what happened with Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm just a few weeks ago. Rousey was the presumptive winner mostly because nobody could even imagine her losing. I find what happened tonight to have followed the same pattern. We thought Fury was a dead man walking because, well, nobody beats Wlad these days. In hindsight though, as was the case with Rousey and Holm, Fury had the perfect gameplan and the perfect set of skills to get the job done. Just because we didn’t have the vision to see it a week ago doesn’t mean it wasn’t there all along. We just needed to believe in Fury. Believe in his big mouth, his unflappable self-confidence and his unbridled (or is it?) insanity.
And we didn’t. Shame on us. All of us. All hail the Gypsy King.
And don’t forget, all month long we’ll be featuring our 27 UFC Gifts for the Fight Fan in your life post just for you so you can make Christmas easier on yourself while also being a hero!