True Fury: Tyson nears destiny
When I first met Tyson Fury, it was on a snowy afternoon at a Dutch ferry port - with the wind howling through the Welkommen flags. I was the only foot passenger hanging around. The vending machines had all broken. I was cold. The car arriving to pick me up and take me into Belgium to the Fury training camp - deep in the forest - contained Peter and Tyson Fury.
How, I don't know. Both men are large beyond the realms of any people you might come across on any random trip down a local high street on a Saturday afternoon. They fill space. And they are good company. I hit it off with them immediately.
Two nights later, I was driving the Team Fury bus along treacherous Belgian roads, thick with compacted snow and ice while, in front of me, several million pounds of boxing talent laboured in the -10c air on their nightly 6-miler and prayed I could stop in time.
This was a trip where I found out what makes a Fury tough, but, more than that, this was the moment I knew deep down in my core that two of them at least would make it to the top. Two years later and Tyson is first up at seeing my hunch fulfilled.
Wladimir Klitschko is not a man to trifle with. Even when he says he will fight somebody (like he has repeatedly in Tyson's case) these things take time to thrash out, make good, turn whatever bit of monetary advantage further in the champion's favour.
TV rights, paying bums on seats, home advantage, and the question of 'What if it all goes wrong?' all go through Dr. Steelhammer's Phd certified brain before he so much as goes for a pre training-camp jog. In short, the man is no fool in business. But his nous extends far beyond any IKEA-furnished war room. He is a master in the ring.
As Deontay Wilder will cement for us all shortly, fighting ‘contenders’ is easy on paper - just pick Eric Molina. But you have to narrow the odds, pick an advantage and use every bit of what you have if the man in front of you is worth his salt. Again, Wladimir is the leading expert. He ranges that jab like a mantis shrimp, ties up any close incoming work with, at times, the most cynical holding in boxing history and, when he's in the mood, he'll unleash that crushing right hand. He's a leaner, a mugger, cold, calculating, and he's been the champ for a very, very long time because he's simply been good at it.
His chin? "Look, man," Eddie Chambers told me, "Wlad's not chinny. He got hit full on by Brewster and Sanders. In this division, all it takes is the right punch and anyone is knocked over. It's simple." I'm inclined to agree with Eddie. These modern heavyweights are big men with big power. Since Brewster, nobody has troubled the champ and that's an awful long time - 11 years, to be precise. Chambers himself, Chagaev, Povetkin, Thompson, Haye, Pulev, and a game Bryant Jennings have all found that what they used to know all went out of the window when they fought Klitschko. And each man can never be accused of being second rate to most of their peers. Wladimir really has taken on all-comers, the cream of the crop. He made them all look ordinary.
But the wind is about to change. Believe me.
Tyson is the first man Wladimir will have faced who is taller and rangier than he is. "Jeez, I knew he was rangy," said Steve Cunningham after losing to Fury at Madison Square Garden two years ago, "I mean I knew his reach was massive, but he's even longer than you think he is!" And try leaning down on a man taller than you, it's tough. At a stroke, Klitschko's two main weapons are not going to work as well as they have in their golden past. Tyson is tricky, fast (much faster than people give him credit for), he can spend an entire fight in the southpaw stance, he can mix it up, brawl, fall over, get back up, knock you out, and he has the weight of many generations of true Fighting Men watching from the ether. He's a nightmare. He's Wlad's worst nightmare. And, in case you think he doesn't possess true power in that rangy left, take a look at Dereck Chisora's face halfway through their bout. It was a painful expression of hurt, and sheer, blind, hopelessness as jab after jab found its target through Del's hunched up and closed guard.
Peter Fury is also a factor you cannot ignore. He masterminded the comeback from the Pajkic knockdown and turned simply a very tough man into an increasingly sophisticated operator in the ring. He's also a man you'd want in your corner on a hard evening in Germany. He won't lie to you and he reads a fight like few others can. Tyson could not go into this fight better prepared. "He's a great champion," Peter told me, "who is no fool. We'll need to be on top of our game and prepare in the wilderness like Spartans to win this one. But we will do this. Tyson is ready."
But this is not a trip into fantasy land. Wladimir Klitschko is a champion, and history is littered with guys who were a nailed on certainty to change the old guard and usher in a new era, but ended up getting carried out of a boxing ring on what was left of their pride. For all his mugging in the ring and his total dominance of the edges of the rule book, Wladimir can fight, he can punch hard, and he can box. At 39, only his heart remains in question. He's done it all...... and Tyson has it all to do.
Where the fight ends up taking place is up to the money men. After all, they run things in the sport. All we really need to hope for, as British boxing fans, is that the deal is struck and we get to see one of the most complex boxing characters in a long, long, time fulfil his destiny; to show us true Fury.