By Cliff Rold
He keeps signing on the dotted line.
Opponents keep failing to reach the starting line.
Heavyweight hopeful Tyson Fury (22-0, 16 KO) got the bad news earlier this week that a rematch with former title challenger Derek Chisora was off due to a Chisora training injury. It was the second major cancellation for Fury in the last year. A clash with David Haye died on the vine twice, also due to injury.
For all the steps forward Fury has taken in his career, these have been some tough steps back. Since a sensational battle with former Cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham in April 2013, Fury has fought only once. At least there was a replacement in time for Saturday. Alaexander Ustinov (29-1, 21 KO) will step in for Chisora.
Ustinov beat a long faded version of David Tua in his last outing. Two fights prior, he was soundly defeated by leading contender Kubrat Pulev. On short notice, Fury will be expected to win this weekend but, with him, there is always the chance he might not.
For all the bluster the loquacious Fury brings with him, that’s the real fun. He’s a big puncher but he’s also vulnerable. Cunningham had him on the deck early. Nevin Pajkic dropped him pretty hard. So far, he’s risen but there is the feeling watching Fury that he just hasn’t been caught right yet.
It is offset by the tremendous strides he’s made. Watch Fury in his first few fights and see where’s he’s evolved. It’s impressive. He’s clearly worked hard, developing a solid jab complimented by genuine power and work rate. In his win over Chisora in 2011, it was his hustle (and perhaps Chisora’s condition) that saw him to victory.
And he’s got the stones.
Lots of guys close in on a title shot and get picky. He signed for Haye and Chisora, the former as an underdog in the mind of many experts. Fury wants to get the most out of himself and at 25 expects to win.
Add all these traits together and we have what could be the most important of all the young Heavyweight hopefuls.
That’s not the same as the best. “Best” will get ironed out over the next few years. Two of the better young Heavyweights, Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez, lock horns on the HBO undercard of Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale. Maybe one of them emerges as the leader of the future wave?
Fury may eventually assume that position. Pulev will have his chances. Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder will have their chances as well. Wladimir Klitschko is clearly the king.
He won’t be there forever.
The difference between Fury and all the rest is that he may have the ability to put more butts in the seats than any of them. His is a personality that would work well in event atmospheres, creating fans and antipathy is somewhat equal measure.
Heavyweight hasn’t had a lightning rod in a while. Fury could be that, and that is where his potential significance beyond the ring could lie. For that to take root, he has to continue winning for the time being and that should continue. If the farthest he gets is a shot at Klitschko, and he falls short, there will at least be the massive stadium show that fight would produce.
But before we get to all that, it would have been nice to see Haye or Chisora II make it all the way to the opening bell. Either would have been a gauge of just how intriguing Fury will be over the long haul. There is still a feeling of the unknown and Ustinov isn’t a compelling questioner.
We may not get one of those before Fury needs the answers for the biggest tests of all.
His first couple fights had many writing two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Zou Shiming off as a professional. The progress he’s shown in his last two fights speaks to why fighters should be given time to develop. Shiming isn’t ready for the upper crust of today’s deep Flyweight division yet but, with his deep background and assimilation of a professional style, his ceiling keeps inching up. Shiming gets more interesting with each appearance…Guillermo Rigondeaux is free of Bob Arum. His phone is ringing off the hook now, right? Uh…As a lover of boxing, still want to see Rigondeaux-Leo Santa Cruz. That’s a fun style clash…Anselmo Moreno-Juan Carlos Payano is coming to Texas in September and let’s hope that means the world’s best Bantamweight (not named Shinsuke Yamanaka anyways…coin toss choice there) might also be back on US TV. Good…McWilliams Arroyo is set to hit Thailand for his first title shot at 112. If Juan Francisco Estrada-Giovani Segura is signed as expected, September will have a fantastic round robin of action in the sports most exciting division…Floyd Mayweather has a promoter’s license in Nevada. Fatburger for everyone.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]