You have to concede it has worked. Firstly, the day in June 1988 when former heavyweight battler John Fury decided his son would be called Tyson, a reflection of Fury senior’s love of the then unbeaten Heavyweight champion Iron Mike, and secondly the day now 6ft 9inch Tyson Fury became Hennessy Sports’ most promising signing. Those two events have led the 6-0 (6ko) heavyweight prospect to become one of the most talked about fighters in the modern game.
As I sit here contemplating on which bill to focus this weekend; the Amir Khan topped pay-per view extravaganza on Sky Box Office or the blue-collar show down at York Hall in which Tyson Fury offers little more than under-card decoration, I have to conclude the possibility of missing Tyson’s latest foray in the heavyweight ranks is the one fight I don’t want to miss. You see, the endless PR stream has worked. I’m hooked.
Despite the loss of TV backers Setanta and soon ITV, Mick Hennessy remains fiercely determined to promote his fighters through the classic routes of British, Commonwealth, European and world honours (preferably WBC – the oldest belt) and it is testimony to his ability as a manager and promoter that firstly Howard Eastman and latterly Junior Witter, Carl Froch and Darren Barker have stuck by him when other promoters with more stable television contracts were widely tipped to woo his most important fighters. That loyalty means something. Witter, Eastman and most recently Froch were all rewarded with WBC title shots and in Froch’s case some hard-earned respect and selection for one of boxing’s most important forthcoming series.
Fury meanwhile has been busier than heavyweight contemporaries David Price and Derek Chisora, though the latter’s win over Sam Sexton develops new gravitas all the time, and has secured more column inches than any other recently converted Amateur. I can imagine only Amir Khan has tickled the interest mainstream writers as much as Tyson has. His name offering even those estranged from boxing a common denominator reference point. It is worth remembering the phenomenon Mike Tyson was, such is the reverberation and resonance his name still invokes in those that lived through his prime even the mention of the word, Tyson, will compel people to read a line or two of anything written about young Fury. As a similar tangent thought, it is amazing how many fighters use sticky tape or a staple gun to attach themselves to the repute of a bygone great. Only this week I had a press release about the “New” Ray Robinson, before that we had the African Super-Middleweight James Obede Toney – it does help to a point, but usually the newly fabricated version has to prove he can fight.
And though still embryonic the giant 21 year old has demonstrated a thirst for competitive action and some tidy skills for such a big man. He’s begun to prove he can fight.
Statistics are the bed-fellow of fools sometimes. Does Joe Calzaghe’s 47-0 slate really mean more than Thomas Hearns’ 61-5 for example? Could you really suggest Brian Nielsen, the Danish Heavyweight who once came perilously close to surpassing Rocky Marciano’s much vaunted 49-0 ledger in 1999, could have lasted 3 minutes with the Brockton Blockbuster? But, suspend the mistrust of statistical measures for a moment and compare the cumulative records of the opponents Fury has dispatched thus far and it serves comparison with any of the heavyweights of recent times.
Wladimir Klitschko, the current heavyweight champion of two sanctioning bodies, faced opponents with a sum total record of 50-79-6 in his first 6 fights, Lennox Lewis 73-92-9. Young Tyson Fury compares well, his opponents having posted a total of 82-52-5.
Perhaps of greater importance at this fledgling stage, providing he continues to improve between the ropes, is the fact he’s developed such a degree of interest among fight fans and at least some partial recognition beyond that niche group and the borders of his home nation. American ears have pricked up to his development and his name is known by the average guy in the pub.
A job well done thus far.
Tyson Fury continues his journey against Latvian trier Aleksandrs Selezens this weekend, but the first significant professional hurdle follows that, when experienced John McDermott is the opponent for the English Heavyweight title in a show McDermott’s promoter, Frank Maloney, won the purse bids for.