The new heavyweight champion of the world is flamboyant, unpredictable, iconoclastic, biting, endearing in certain ways, and apparently has a good singing voice. Not many thought Tyson Fury could beat reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, especially taking on the defending Ukrainian WBA, IBF and WBO champ in his second back yard, the ESPRIT Arena, in Dusseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.
But Fury did it. He rocked the world Saturday night and the Klitschko-dominated, dormant heavyweight division with a stunning unanimous decision, winning by 115-112 on the scorecards of Cesar Ramos and Ramon Cerdan, and 116-111 by judge Raul Caiz Sr.’s tally—despite Fury being deducted a point in the 11th round by referee Tony Weeks for rabbit punching.
Related » Fury-Klitschko Round-by-Round Scoring
It marks the first time Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) lost in 11 years, since being stopped in the fifth round by Lamont Brewster on April 10, 2004. It’s also the first time Klitschko, who was going for his 19th-straight successful title defense, has lost by decision.
As for Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), who came in at 247 pounds, the second lightest he’s ever been for a fight in his career, he made it ugly, clinched often, and picked and poked at the lethargic future Hall of Famer over 12 rounds. There were times Fury openly taunted Klitschko, dropping his hands and sometimes putting his hands behind his back, inviting Klitschko to hit him. Klitschko was hesitant to do anything. He didn't seem to trust himself in letting his hands go, a dark omen for an aging fighter.
When the decision was read, Fury, 27, was reduced to a child, jumping up and down, and kneeling in the center of the ring overcome by emotion. After passing along apologies to what seemed like everyone in the ring, including former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, and Klitschko himself, for calling him a devil worshiper during the promotional build-up, Fury grabbed the mic from Lewis and broke into a rendition of Aerosmith’s “I Don't Want To Miss A Thing” to his wife, Paris, who announced she's pregnant with the couple's third child just before the fight.
Though a little shaky, Fury’s adaptation was actually the best performance either fighter put on Saturday night, which isn't saying much. The two combined to land a total of 138 punches in what was otherwise a borefest.
However, there’s no disputing the scoring. Both Ramos and Cerdan had it 8-4, and Caiz Sr. had it 9-3.
“I came here to Germany, in the lion’s den to face a great, great champion in Wladimir Klitschko, and my salvation gave me the glory tonight,” Fury said. “This is a dream come true. I put everything in the gym for this and I can’t believe that I got it. It’s hard to come to foreign countries and get a decision. But it means so much to me that I had doubts until the last round that I got it. (As for point deduction Klitschko) kept turning away and pushed me down and tried leaning on me. You're a great champion Wlad, thanks very much for having me. It was all fun and games in the build-up, I just wanted to be confident, young and brash. I promised everyone that I’d sing a song after this fight.”
Klitschko, with a cut under his left eye, stood there shuffling his feet, trying to make sense of it all while wearing a stoic expression. The 39-year-old seemed to age overnight. "Tyson was the faster and better man tonight," Klitschko said. "I felt quite comfortable in the first six rounds, but I was astonished that Tyson was so fast in the second half as well. I couldn't throw my right hand because the advantage was the longer distance he had."
Punch stats bore that out. Klitschko landed a pathetic 52 of 231 punches (23%), which averages out to 4.5 punches a round. Fury did slightly better. He connected on 86 of 371 (23%). The only thing that made it intriguing was the possibility that Fury could actually win. As for power shots, Klitschko connected on 18 of 69 (69%), or 1.5 a round, and just four body shots, while Fury landed 48 of 202 (24%).
By the sixth round, it looked apparent Klitschko was out of sorts. He fought most of the fight in the center of the ring. Weeks got more of a work out breaking up the two fighters each time they came close, because they certainly weren’t punching. Fury was relaxed, took his time and did slightly more than Klitschko. Fury would lean it, paw at Klitschko, and “Dr. Steelhammer” never countered with Fury out there to be hit. Klitschko’s over-cautious style backfired. He had no command at all. He didn't connect on his first power shot until the fourth round.
In the fifth, a cut opened up under his left eye, but that may have had more to do with Fury’s head than a punch, after the two collided during a clinch with 2:03 left in the round. The cut didn’t appear to bother Klitschko, who didn't hit the urgent switch and really open up until the last round. By then, it was too late.
Afterward, Klitschko said he would like a rematch. Whether anyone wants to see it is another story.
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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