By Paul Magno | April 25, 2022

I have to admit it, I was wrong about Tyson Fury. I’m usually a pretty good judge of when a young fighter has “it,” but I absolutely didn’t didn’t see “it” in the 24-year-old Fury back in 2013 when he made his US debut against former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham. 

By the time he got himself to that fight, he had scored some solid victories at the UK domestic level against guys such as John McDermott, Dereck Chisora, and Martin Rogan, as well as against good journeyman-types like Kevin Johnson and Vinny Maddalone. To me, though, he was still the boxer from the gifs who accidentally punched himself in the face in his fourth pro fight. 

The Cunningham performance, which saw him get dropped hard in the second round, didn’t win me over, either. His seventh round stoppage victory seemed more the product of a 44-pound weight advantage that he used to smother and wear down his smaller foe than any sort of skill or will to win. 

Truth be told, Fury’s win over Wladimir Klitschko, four fight and two-and-a-half years later, didn’t win me over either. Fury fought too much on the back foot and Klitschko, who was a three-belt champ and on a 22-fight win streak, fought tentatively, like he was overly concerned by what could come back at him if he stepped forward. The defending champ was the consensus no. 1 heavyweight in the world at the time, but he didn’t fight with the urgency of a champ and Fury worked to do just enough to score the points victory. 

Then, “The Gypsy King” imploded under the weight of mental illness and addiction. He lost everything that he had gained. He had become just another rags-to-riches-back-to-rags boxing story. And ol’ unconvinced me wrote the big Irishman off for good. 

But Fury didn’t stay down. 

After a couple of “meh” comeback bouts in 2018, he jumped at the opportunity to step in against WBC champ Deontay Wilder when a Wilder-Anthony Joshua unification fight fell apart. 

Against Wilder, he was still too obsessed with being a stylist boxer, but he showed extreme toughness against the heavy-handed defending champ, especially in rising from a hellacious twelfth-round knockdown. He got a draw in that first Wilder fight, although most felt he deserved at least a narrow points victory. 

Destroying Wilder in subsequent back-to-back return bouts completely won me over, though. Not because Wilder was THAT good...and one could argue that Wilder came into those two bouts in a horrendous state of mind. Fury won me over because he just didn’t fuck around. He got pushed into a war and responded like a warrior-- like a championship-level warrior with a champion’s pride and mindset.

This past Saturday’s sixth-round TKO of Dillian Whyte just confirmed that Fury is no longer that man-mountain of a human with wall-leveling power and a maddening fixation on being a cutesy boxer. The man IS a complete boxer now and firing at 100% of his full potential. 

Much credit goes to trainer SugarHill Steward, who joined Team Fury following the first Deontay Wilder fight, for bringing a lot to the table in this area. But, ultimately, it’s the fighter who makes things work and Fury worked hard and smart to become who he is today. 

People need to hold their horses on the “this cinches Fury’s status as an all-time great” stuff. Dillian Whyte was a legit top 5 heavyweight-- in the present tense. In the big picture of heavyweight history, though, Whyte is more of a Hasim Rahman than a Joe Frazier. Fury’s big career wins are still over a tentative Klitschko, a limited Wilder, a solid Whyte, and a handful of okay second tier guys. The body of work just isn’t there for ATG talk. 

I also still see some BS and hype-laced sleight of hand in how the man portrays himself and some of the claims he makes about his human awesomeness (like, how he donates his purses and is really just a simple, Christian man). 


Fury, IMO, is the best active heavyweight in the world, he’s deserving of the no. 1 spot atop the division, and is a solid favorite to beat next-best-heavyweights Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua. 

And now he says he’s retiring, leaving behind a sport and a lifestyle that clashes with who he is as a person and how he wants to spend the rest of his life. Good for him if he makes this retirement stick.

In boxing, however, retirements rarely stick. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in fight talks within a few months and back in the ring by the beginning of next year, at the latest. Three world title belts, a long-standing rivalry with Joshua, and $100+ million will be out there, tugging at his competitive spirit. Human being, regardless of their profession, rarely leave so much on the table. Adrenaline-addicted prizefighters are even less likely to walk away. 

But, then again, I could be wrong. I’ve clearly misjudged Tyson Fury throughout his entire career…

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