By Ben Fleming
Wilder connects with an overhand right. Fury stumbles back. Wilder connects with a left hook. Fury crumbles to the ground. The count begins.
‘You can make two decisions on that floor: stay down or get up’ Fury said after the fight. ‘And as long as there is life left in this body, I’ll keep continuing to fight’.
In many ways those ten seconds were a metaphor for Fury’s career as a whole; he was seemingly in control, almost untouchable before everything came crashing down.
And just like no one gave Fury a chance when he ballooned to 400lbs, not many gave Fury a chance when those shots connected and he lay comatose on the ring floor.
But, as if guided by divine inspiration, Fury rose in his own words like ‘a phoenix rising from the ashes’, and went on to the finish the fight. The result can rightfully be questioned, but what cannot be questioned is that Fury is back.
A sporting comeback is always cherished by the fans.
Grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat in the most dramatic fashion leaves the hairs standing on the back of one’s neck and rightly so.
That night in Istanbul, the Miracle at Medinah, and countless others come to mind and each of them memorable in their own way.
Tyson Fury’s feels more special than any of these. It will not be confined solely to the memories of the most ardent boxing fans. This comeback has transcended the sport and was about far more than just being good at punching someone in the head. This was about life and death.
“I didn’t care about nothing. I just wanted to die so bad. I gave up on life. I’d wake up and think, ‘Why did I wake up this morning?’ And this is coming from a man who won everything. Money, fame, glory, titles, a wife, family and kids – everything.”
These were the words of Tyson Fury on the Joe Rogan Podcast as he discussed his life in 2016.
A life hijacked by depression, suicidal thoughts, drugs and alcohol. A life that led to him being stripped of his heavyweight titles and ballooning to 400lbs. A life not worth living.
Yet in the space of two years, Fury has reinvented his career. A new coach in Ben Davison and a reinvigorated desire not only to fight but to live led Fury, after two warm-up fights, to the scales at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
He had lost one-hundred and fifty pounds and looked like the “Gypsy King” of old. For many, Fury had already won.
He had battled and defeated the mental health problems and suicidal thoughts that looked to end his career. But Fury wasn’t going to settle for just that, nothing but a win against Deontay Wilder, his unbeaten American heavyweight opponent, would do.
From the first bell, it became clear that Fury had not lost a step.
The movement, the jabs, and the counterpunching was floorless from Fury as he marshalled the ring and taunted Wilder, in a similar vein to Klitschko years before. Wilder, steady at first, remained calm as his opponent dominated the early proceedings.
As the rounds crept on, however, Wilder grew agitated and began to seek that knockout punch. Many expected this to be Fury’s undoing.
His bravado and showmanship would leave him open and as is well documented, it only takes one punch from Wilder to end a fight.
But Fury was not destined to succumb to the same fate as Wilder’s previous 40 victims.
Wilder was punching thin air and Fury slipped and dodged the bombs raining down from Wilder. However, the sheer quantity of big seeking punches from Wilder meant that eventually one was destined to land. In fact, 3 landed.
One in the ninth which put Fury down briefly before a thunderous right-left combo put Fury out cold in the twelfth.
Yet, both times Fury rose, to the disbelief of the millions watching around the world. Not only did he rise, which in itself was inexplicable, but in both rounds, he went on to outsmart and outbox Wilder for the rest of the round, something that would seem to defy the fundamentals of boxing logic.
Needless to say, as you can probably already tell, I thought Fury won the fight, and whilst Fury himself remains professional in saying that the result doesn’t matter, deep down, he knows his comeback has been tarnished by a bad decision, even if he did prove a lot of critics wrong throughout the fight itself.
As we look to the future, the potential is massive not only for Fury, but also for the heavyweight division as a whole.
Wilder, Fury and Joshua are all incredible fighters and all have the potential to beat each other on any given day.
Wilder, speaking to ESPN said that he doesn’t ‘want anyone else but Tyson Fury’ and that ‘it is only right for me to give him a rematch, ASAP’ but only time will tell.
What we do know though is that regardless, Tyson has achieved the near-impossible. He has resurrected his career from the brink of oblivion and re-instated himself on top of the boxing world. He has truly risen from the ashes.
Photograph: Tony Hisgett via Flickr