The biggest news of the weekend in boxing didn’t come from anything in the ring. February’s highest profile fight isn’t happening in February anymore with an errant elbow leaving us without the undisputed showdown between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.
Anyone who has followed the career of Fury has learned to expect something.
Even, sometimes, fights.
When it’s just the fights, there’s often little to complain about. While it might not have been entertaining to all, Fury’s win over Wladimir Klitschko was a technical gem. Fury’s punch output was low but his expert use of feints left Klitschko stuck in neutral all night.
Against Deontay Wilder, we saw the heart and guts Fury brings with obvious boxing IQ.
Despite suffering a couple knockdowns, he still appeared the better man in outboxing the feared power puncher. In both rematches, Fury brought the fight to Wilder and stopped him both times, rising twice more in their final fight to cap one of the great heavyweight rivalries.
Dillian Whyte waited years for a shot at the title. Fury made mincemeat of him.
A motivated Fury, once the bell rings, is a special heavyweight. Everyone knows it.
But Fury isn’t always motivated and he’s often been about what happens outside the ring as much as inside.
Since upsetting Wladimir Klitschko for the lineal heavyweight throne, Fury has…
…pulled out of two scheduled Klitschko rematches…
…served a two-year backdated suspension for PED use…
…strung fans along about an Anthony Joshua fight he couldn’t take because of a contract for a rubber match with Deontay Wilder that the courts ultimately enforced…
…wasted more than a year where Oleksandr Usyk was the clear biggest fight in the division while he fought an absurd third fight with Dereck Chisora and then got embarrassed in a win over MMA star Francis Ngannou…
…and that skips all the ‘I’m retired, just kidding’ nonsense that has packed the last eight years. Based on the film and photo, there is no doubt that Tyson Fury suffered a serious cut in sparring to delay his anticipated unification showdown with Usyk. That’s bad luck for him and the sport.
It just doesn’t feel all that surprising. Some guys just bring a bit of snakebit with them over the years and in Fury it combines with an erratic public persona. Reports have the fight being rescheduled for May and consider this corner an optimist.
We’re still likely to see Fury-Usyk this year, but fans hoping to see 2024 keep up the in-ring momentum of 2023 have to be a little disappointed. We’ve already had some damn good fights but the first major event of the year is off for now and there’s nothing comparable on the calendar anytime soon.
Let’s just cross our fingers, avoid elbows, and cross fingers for May.
Joshua Buatsi is an interesting comer at light heavyweight. He doesn’t feel like a real threat to Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol yet, but they’re getting older and he’s getting better…Raymond Ford showed some personality on social media this week. Considering how few US opponents there are in the range of Naoya Inoue, it makes his upcoming featherweight title shot worth keeping an eye on. Inoue-Fulton was big on both sides of the Atlantic. Could Ford be part of something similar?
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.