Member Boxing Writers Association of America
But Saturday night, the Klitschko’s era ended as Wladimir fought a truly uninspiring fight against an opponent that he would have destroyed in his prime or even a couple of years ago. Tyson Fury is big, strong but no one will view him as an all-time great but he dominated the fight simply throwing a few more punches than Wladimir who never seem to get off. Wladimir average less than 20 punches per round and connected on an average of only 4 punches per round. Fury was slightly better as he averaged slightly 30 punches thrown per round and connected on an average of seven punches per round. This was hardly a classic but regardless, Klitschko did little in this fight and the question to ask, has father time finally caught up?
Over the first three rounds, Fury did a lot of feinting while Klitschko did little to press the issue as his jab hit nothing but air and he never had the opportunity to test Fury’s chin with his right hand. Fury had connected on 17 punches and Klitshcko only 11 for the first three rounds.
In the seventh round, Fury put his hands behind his back and dared Klitschko to hit him. In the ninth run, Klitschko nailed Fury with two solid rights and it looked like he was going to take command of the fight but Fury caught Klitschko with a left hook near the end of the round. Klitschko did very little body work throughout the fight but in the eleventh round, Fury was deducted a point for a rabbit punch but he nailed Klitschko with two left hooks to turn the round into a 9-9 round according to HBO’s Harold Lederman. In the twelfth, Klitschko went for broke over the last minute as he dominated Fury with solid rights but Fury survived and won the decision. No time in this bout was Tyson Fury ever in trouble.
Fury hardly looked impressive but he didn’t make the big mistake and used his size to create real estate between Klitschko’s jab and himself. As HBO’s Roy Jones noted, Fury may not have been the better fighter but he executed the better fight plan. The question was what would have happened if Klitschko had pressed the action sooner? Finally, has age caught up with Wladimir? Last year, Klitschko suffered from torn biceps preparing for his fight against Pulev, and this fight was postponed due to a torn calf. Injuries have plagued Klitschko over the past two years and there were times Klitschko never seemed to pull the trigger on punches as he waited and waited. Either he was simply perplexed by Fury’s awkward style and size or his body could not do what the mind commanded.
Does Klitschko have the desire for a rematch or will he simply walk away with his legacy intact? Wladimir and his brother Vitali dominated the heavyweight division since the end of the Lennox Lewis era and Wladimir has not lost since 2004. Over that period, he won 22 straight fights and 18 of those championship bouts. These are impressive numbers and while many pundits have dismissed Klitschko as a historic figure, he proved to be one. With the exception of Ali, Holmes and Joe Louis, no one has won more heavyweight championship bouts. In an era that lacked for dramatic bouts or compelling challengers, Wladimir and his brother were considered more care takers than great fighters. While Klitschko will not rank with an Ali or Louis, and I would certainly rank him below Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, he is no doubt a Hall of Fame fighter who deserves to enter on the first ballot. There are statistics that one can’t ignore, and the number of victories in Heavyweight championship bouts, no matter the era, has to be considered when viewing his career. It was not Klitschko’s fault that he fought in an era where the only real challenge would be his brother but both Vitali and Wladimir made it clear, there would never be a bout between the two. He simply dominated those that stood in front of him but in the end, father time said “I got you.” No one beats father time.