We all love a sporting upset, and none more so than in boxing. Looking at his career now, you might not think that Tyson Fury beating Wladimir Klitschko was that big of an upset. But when you break it down, it was massive. In our second instalment of 'Boxing's Biggest Upsets', we look at how Tyson Fury became world champion.
Let’s remember this, Wladimir Klitschko was no ordinary fighter. He wasn’t just a champion, he was a phenomenon. He was the heavyweight champion of the world for the best part of a decade and when he stepped foot inside the ring against Fury at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf on November 28, 2015, it was his 19th title defence in that reign.
Klitschko was seen as one of the greatest champions of all time. He was heavily criticised for his fights being boring, but you could not argue with his record.
Since beating Chris Boyd for the IBF and IBO heavyweight titles in 2006, he went on to beat Sultan Ibragimov for the vacant WBO belt, he defeated Ruslan Chagaev to claim the vacant The Ring and Lineal titles and then he secured the WBA (Super) heavyweight title with victory over David Haye.
As well as beating the already mentioned guys, Klitschko had secured wins over the likes of Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman, Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev and Bryant Jennings.
It was difficult to see who was going to beat Klitschko. It didn’t look like Anthony Joshua was ready for such a challenge, but one Tyson Fury believed he was the man to end the Ukrainian’s domination.
Who was Tyson Fury?
Boxing fans outside of the United Kingdom would have been forgiven for not knowing who Tyson Fury was at this time.
He had fought the likes of Dereck Chisora, John McDermott and Christian Hammer, but this would be the toughest test of his career and not many people outside of his camp gave him a chance.
It was back in 2013 when Fury first set his sights on Klitschko, He had beaten Kevin Johnson and Steve Cunningham in title eliminators and kept calling Klitschko out because he was the number one fighter in the heavyweight division.
Fury truly believed this fight would never happen and claimed Klitschko would retire from the sport before stepping into the ring with him. Two years after calling Klitschko out, Fury got his fight with the champion.
All the omens pointed to a Klitschko win. He had not been defeated since losing to Lamon Brewster in Las Vegas in 2004. He had 67 fights under his belt with a 64-3 record, while Fury came into this with a record of 24-0. A fantastic feat, but nothing compared to the hours Klitschko had spent in the squared circle.
A number of press conferences were scheduled to build up the fight. The second on in London saw Fury arrive dressed as Batman and he beat the Joker in a mock fight in an attempt to rattle the champion.
Fury continued to goad Klitschko insisting he had ‘reigned supreme over a load of bums.’
The two agreed to take part in a Sky Sports ‘The Gloves are Off’ special in which Klitschko called Fury a bully because he was weak and insecure. Klitschko also called Fury a clown and said he should get a job in the circus after their bout. Fury leapt to his fight and challenged the champion to call him a clown again.
Things calmed down and the pair shook hands and Fury later admitted he didn’t mind being called a clown, he was there to entertain people.
The mind games continued in the lead up to the fight, Fury was unhappy with the gloves that Klitschko had chosen and the British fighter was not best pleased with the thickness of the canvas in the ring. Fury and his camp claimed the canvas was too soft and it was forced to be re-laid.
It was time for the fight and we would see if Fury’s antics before the fight had gotten under the skin of Klitschko, or whether or not he would take it in his stride as he had done for the whole of his career.
One thing you can’t say about Fury is that he lacks confidence. He went into this fight 100% convinced that he was better than Klitschko and he would show the world who the better fighter was.
To his credit, he did exactly that. He never let the champion get into a rhythm all night. It wasn’t the prettiest fight you will ever see, but Fury dominated the more experienced fighter and he just kept picking off Klitschko and fighting at his own pace.
Whenever Klitschko tried to unload on Fury, the Brit took it well and never looked in any danger. Klitschko looked timid at times and unsure whether to attack Fury, over fears that the Brit would knock him spark out.
Neither fighter could land that vital knockout blow, but the judges gave a unanimous decision to Fury 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111 to make Fury the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO, The Ring and Lineal heavyweight champion.
Klitschko exercised his rematch clause and the two were scheduled to do it all over again at the Manchester Arena on July 9, 2016. Fury then postponed the fight due to an ankle injury with a new date of October 29, 2016.
This fight was again cancelled after Fury was declared medically unfit and he later vacated his titles citing problems with depression and cocaine. This allowed Klitschko to take on Anthony Joshua for the vacant WBA and IBO titles and Joshua’s IBF belt at Wembley Stadium. Joshua won the fight courtesy of a technical knockout in the 11th round.