Monday December 31st 2018

Myles Cutliffe – UCFB Student

Over the course of the year there has been many great achievements in the world of sport that have captured the attention of their respective adoring publics. But one standout in the world of boxing has evoked an unrivalled awe. One boxer, one Gypsy King has graced the ring with his controversies and left it an inspiration to millions worldwide.

The story of Tyson Fury is a long and complicated one. A real competitor, unbeaten throughout a lengthy career, yet never at the forefront of a real nationwide backing like we have seen with the likes of David Haye, Anthony Joshua and Lennox Lewis to name a few in recent history. Nor have we seen Fury obtain mass sponsorship and paraded as a poster boy – Anthony Joshua being the most marketed in Britain.

There are various reasons to why Fury hasn’t reached the commercial heights and resulting unanimous love from the nation – yet when he out-boxed Wladimir Klitschko to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, the world knew who Tyson Fury was. It was what resulted from the high of toppling the heavily favoured Ukrainian that defined Fury.

Having won the WBA, IBF, IBO, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles from Klitschko, a rematch was set up as part of a clause from negotiations for the first fight. However, Fury went over on his ankle in training which proved to be a major factor in the deterioration of his mental state. All his life, Fury has suffered from mental health issues but in his own words said he, “didn’t know what it was because he has had no education on the subject.”

From the ultimate high of becoming the lineal heavyweight champion of the world – Fury plummeted to an all time low. A subsequent lack of desire followed and drugs and alcohol became a new daily routine – an attempt to mask the depression. After two and half years of depression, alcoholism and drug abuse Fury attempted to take his own life by driving his Ferrari at 190mph toward a bridge on an English motorway – before slamming on the brakes.

From that moment Fury decided to seek professional help and 2018 became the year of the comeback for the Gypsy King. Having announced a fight with Sefer Seferi, almost three years after last stepping in the ring, Fury went to work on cutting down his ballooned frame. Seven stone was lost under an intense training regime oversaw by trainer Ben Davidson. Fury picked up a points win over the Albanian who boasted a 23-1 record.

Just two months later Fury would take on Italian heavyweight Francesco Pianeta in Belfast. Another comfortable points win resulted in the raucous calling out of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. It was well documented that these fighters had been calling one another out for an extended period. Fury was still considered by many to be the real lineal champion. Wilder, along with most other boxing fans, felt Fury was easy pickings.

The two heavyweights would collide in L.A. in late December and the stage was set for Tyson Fury to complete one of, if the not the greatest comeback in boxing history. The ferocious Wilder had 40 wins 39 coming by knockout. His highlight reel is one of savagery as his unorthodox style sees him stalk opponents, headhunting. As the fight unravelled we saw Fury put on a boxing clinic, nullifying the venomous one punch power possessed by Wilder.

Fury dominated the opening nine rounds of boxing but it was in the ninth when Wilder connected with a floury of punches and sent the Gypsy King to the canvas for the first time. Fury rose to his feet to win the tenth and eleventh rounds before Wilder landed a right hand left-hook combination sending Fury to the canvas in such a manner that stunned the crowd. Having crashed backwards onto the canvas Fury lay motionless, nobody expected him to rise to his feet, but he did just that in terminator fashion.

The fight went to the judge’s scorecards and Fury was denied his fairy-tale ending through an undeniable injustice in the scoring of the fight. A split draw was the verdict and Wilder retained his WBC belt. Like in the aftermath of his fight with Klitschko, the world stood up and took notice. Fury lay down an example of what we can achieve as human beings. To be able to overcome internal demons and work toward something great. To be able to get up after being so brutally knocked down. My sportsperson of the year 2018 – Tyson Fury.