Anyone that knows Las Vegas, will be aware that it has hosted the biggest names and in some cases the biggest ego’s in entertainment, sports, crime, politic etc. Now it is the turn of Manchester’s 6’9” Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to make his mark on the fight capital of the world when he faces Germany’s WBO number 2 ranked heavyweight Tom Schwarz at the iconic MGM Grand, Grand Garden Arena on Saturday June 15th.
Muhammad Ali, the most influential boxer of all time fought in Vegas on 7 occasions during his career, Larry Holmes 21 times, Mike Tyson 16. Modern era boxers have to have their name up in lights on ‘The Strip’ to tick that box of accomplishment achieved during their career.
As much as Anthony Joshua has been held aloft as a role model professional boxer, Fury has at times played the part of the uncontrollable, ill-disciplined, and erratic party boy that was waiting to fail somewhere along the line. When he had his first fight with John McDermott in 2009 for the English heavyweight title it looked to all intents and purposes that he had reached his level. Many thought that McDermott deserved the 10 round decision and that Fury’s lack of discipline had finally shown his limitations. As a side note, McDermott was seen as a chubby out of shape heavyweight throughout his career and yet was a very accomplished boxer, much as with Andy Ruiz Jr.
Fury won the rematch with McDermott 9 months later, stopping him in 9 rounds and winning the vacant British title. Four fights later and Fury faced Dereck Chisora, adding the Commonwealth title to his collection.
A further six years on and Fury cemented his name in heavyweight history by travelling to Dusseldorf, Germany and befuddling the all-conquering unified champion Wladimir Klitschko and taking all the titles back home to Manchester, the first man to beat Wlad in over 10 years.
Winning the titles should have been the beginning of a great time in Tyson’s life and career but instead started a downward spiral of drink, drugs, and depression. To listen to “The Gypsy King” talking about those times and the daily battles he still has with the illness, makes his comeback even more remarkable.
Challenging Deontay Wilder for his WBC title in only the 3rd fight of his comeback seemed like a bad idea to everyone but Team Fury, not only the 2 year layoff, caused by addiction and depression, but the lack of fights against top level opposition, plus a new and untested trainer in Ben Davison spelled disaster, or so Team Wilder believed.
Tyson Fury and his promoter Frank Warren conned Team Wilder, pure and simple. Team Wilder saw a weakened, out of shape Fury as a way of adding that career defining name to his resume, but only Wilders most ardent supporters could score more than 2 rounds to the champion other than the rounds in which he knocked Fury down. He was out boxed by the fleet footed giant and made to miss with head movement befitting a middleweight throughout, only Wilder’s renowned right hand power punching kept his titles from the English invaders grasp.
Being floored twice in a fight taking place in the champions home country does not win titles, so the draw was a fair decision, and now they can both earn big money doing it all again. Arum and Warren have decided to bolster Fury’s profile in America before the rematch.
After signing a reported $100m deal with Top Rank to promote his next 3 fights, Fury’s first assignment is Schwarz, a big, strong looking heavyweight who should provide Fury with some target practice. The German fights behind a high guard and will march forward and attempt to catch the taller, faster and slicker Fury with his clubbing shots.
Styles make fights they say, and Schwarz is tailor made for Fury. Tyson has tried to make the comparison between his fight with Schwarz and the huge upset Andy Ruiz Jr pulled off against Anthony Joshua recently, but that’s nowhere near fair. Andy Ruiz Jr was a known world class heavyweight going into the fight, whereas Schwarz has never faced any world class opposition in his career to date. Fury is only doing his job and promoting the fight, something he is extremely polished at.
It is dangerous to compare any fighter, let alone a heavyweight with Ali, but as far as self-promotion and personality goes, it’s fair to say that Tyson Fury is up there with the best. At 6’ 9” tall, his footwork, speed of hand and sheer boxing I.Q. are also on that level.
Las Vegas has enjoyed having Tyson Fury on its world famous strip, and Tyson Fury has taken to Las Vegas like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and so many other big stars that have made their names synonymous with ‘The gambling capital of the world’.
I am sure ‘The Gypsy King’ will put on a show for fight fans, but in reality, this is a big publicity stunt that Top Rank boss Bob Arum knows will propel Tyson Fury into the consciousness of the American fans. Uncle Bob knows this business like no other promoter alive, having worked with Ali, De La Hoya, Pacquiao, Mayweather, to name just a few. He knew when he saw the personality and ability of Fury that he could turn him into a huge star in the USA.
Just enjoy watching the first step.