It was what followed Tyson Fury’s victory over Wladimir Klitschko that gives the fight extra significance when we remember it.
Claiming a host of heavyweight titles from the long-reigning Ukrainian, few could have known at the time that it was all about to slip away, as controversial statements from the past, failed drug tests, and mental health struggles saw Fury relinquish his heavyweight titles to be exiled from the sport for two years.
The 31-year-old has been on the comeback trail for well over a year now, and his upcoming fight against Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin in Las Vegas is another chance to further his quest to re-claim boxing’s throne. Those punters eager to bet on Tyson Fury v Otto Wallin will fancy Fury’s chances; indeed many boxing fans and pundits have asserted that Wallin is an unworthy opponent to Fury, the man who snatched six heavyweight titles from Klitschko four years ago.
That night of the 28th November 2015 in Dusseldorf, Germany was the climax of Fury’s career up to that point. He had been quickly making a name for himself, overpowering opponents with his power and deceptive speed. Dereck Chisora felt this more than most, losing twice to Fury to surrender various heavyweight titles.
The fight against Klitschko, who had been the king of heavyweight boxing for some ten years, was to provide Fury with his toughest challenge yet, truly testing the mettle of a fighter who had thus far, bit just as well as he barked.
Fury had been his usual self in the build-up, indeed few boxers in history have been as good at winding up their opponents pre-fight. He took all kinds of shots at Klitschko, mostly regarding the Ukrainian’s advancing years, but most people expected Klitschko to do the talking once the bell rang.
Throughout the fight, however, Klitschko was unusually reserved, offering little in the way of punches and mostly trying in vain to contain Fury’s flurries. The Englishman did not shrink beneath the gravity of this match-up with one of the best heavyweight boxers in history, rather he rose to the occasion in his own inimitable style – those long arms swinging like tree trunks, his head ducking up and down elusively like a whack-a-mole.
In a humbling 12 rounds for the Ukrainian, Fury simply out-fought him, out-punched him, and outplayed him. It was a fight that made Klitschko look every one of his 39 years. He was limp and out of sorts – a shadow of the formidable fighter who had made the sport his own. It was the beginning of the end for Klitschko, who would go on to lose to Anthony Joshua at Wembley two years later.
For Fury though, the unanimous decision victory was what he would have then believed was the beginning of a long reign at the top of heavyweight boxing, but for a myriad of different reasons that was not to be. After the fight, Fury sang a soulful if surreal rendition of Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’, and he could have been forgiven for thinking that victory was the beginning of an extended period of success.
Now, having served his drugs ban, conquered his inner demons, and returned with signature flamboyance to the ring once again, Fury no doubt has his sights set on emulating the achievement of that night in Dusseldorf. He looks to be in excellent form heading into this latest bout against Wallin, and another convincing victory in Vegas on the 14th September would have Deontay Wilder shifting nervously in his seat.