“Whether they’re good or bad for the sport, as sportsmen, I think they’re very good, they’re phenomenally good. They are good at what they do, they are great athletes and they are great role models for the sport. What they do in their personal lives is none of my business.”
Tyson Fury. Controversial. Mercurial. Champ.
The latter is the newest addition to a characterisation of The Gypsy King, a man as contentious as they come, not only in boxing, but in sport – even before that Ollie Holt interview.
The above remark is from that exchange, on the less dubious issue of the heavyweight boxing scene, and touches on a sentiment that must apply to the new four-crown heavyweight champion of the world himself…
Fury’s boxing career should be judged on its own merits.
Truly, there’s something to be said when a post-fight rendition of ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ from a boxer is less surprising than he having had his arm raised in victory.
But that seemed to be the case last Saturday night when Fury, having clinched the unanimous decision victory over Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, celebrated with homage to Aerosmith.
Love him or hate him, it was another example of Fury bringing some much-needed character to a division in dire need of it.
The Gypsy King, & the heavyweight champion of the world, will not be silenced I’ll always speak my mind, Like it or lump it, in Jesus name.
— Gypsy King (@Tyson_Fury) December 3, 2015
All else aside, the 6ft9in colossal deserves plaudits for going into the champion’s lair and derailing a decade of Klitschko-dominance with what was systematic boxing efficiency.
In some respect he’s got that, many in the boxing fraternity have rightly praised his performance, in which he out-worked the Ukrainian in 11 out of the 12 rounds, despite what was a disappointing fight for neutrals in terms of explosiveness.
But even since then it’s been a remarkable whirlwind of a week for Team Fury.
At Monday’s media day in Bolton, he was understandably buoyant telling MM how he ‘rescued the world’ and just wanted to ‘go home, get my feet up, put the television on, and have a jam sandwich’.
He has since been installed as one of the favourites for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, cueing vast criticism for various reported comments about homosexuality and women, and a petition with over 44,000 signatures to have him removed from the nominations.
In essence, that is the two sides of Tyson Fury – who has said himself how he dips in personality – in a nutshell, and if it was any other less-complicated British boxer having achieved what he has, they would probably win.
But he won’t win the SPOTY award, nor should he, and just as importantly, nor does he want to.
Hopefully I don’t win @BBCSPOTY as I’m not the best roll model in the world for the kids, give it to someone who would appreciate it
— Gypsy King (@Tyson_Fury) December 4, 2015
What he does win it seems, is boxing matches, and so far he’s backed up his words in hyping those fights with his actions in the ring, winning 25 of 25 bouts.
What he has done is bring an edge and unpredictability back to the heavyweight division to the point there are a number of eagerly anticipated clashes now in the pipeline – with names such as Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua, even if stretching that to David Haye is going a little too far.
The fact Fury said he’d sooner vacate his belts than let Haye challenge for them, after what the latter did in pulling out of two fights, is evidence, if anymore was needed, that the Wythenshawe-fighter will not be dictated to.
But then this is boxing, this is Fury, it could happen – and that’s part of the point.
He is unique, in a rare situation in heavyweight boxing over the last 10 years.
When the rematch with Klitschko – possibly at Wembley – comes around, and if Fury wins to prove it was not a one-off, there can be little doubt.
He is not the boxing hero Britain wanted.
But he’s the one heavyweight boxing needs right now.
And he will be hunted and vilified.
But he can take it.
Image courtesy of iFL TV via YouTube, with thanks.