Tyson Fury next fight not his first American challenge: recalling the others

Tyson Fury next fight is his third in America. Danny Flexen reflects on the first two

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Tyson Fury by Esther Lin/Showtime
Tyson Fury by Esther Lin/Showtime

While Tyson Fury, the apparent ’lineal’ heavyweight champion, makes his Las Vegas debut this Saturday against unbeaten but largely untested Tom Schwarz, this is not the "Gypsy King’s" first foray onto American soil. Indeed, his previous two trips to the Land of the Free have produced a brace of tumultuous fights, with Fury hitting the canvas three times in total, but getting up to maintain his unbeaten record. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane...

 

W KO 7 Steve Cunningham, Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, April 20 2013

Fury’s US debut was nearly as disastrous as Anthony Joshua’s! He was at a disadvantage from the start when his uncle Peter Fury, the trainer who had markedly improved Tyson’s discipline and performance level, was denied entry to the US due to previous convictions. Fury looked sloppy and without strategy early on, finding himself on the canvas in round two against a far smaller opponent who, though a former world champion, had spent most of his career at cruiserweight. Fury gradually gained a foothold by walking Cunningham down, leaning on the Philadelphian to sap his strength. Entering round seven, Fury had momentum but was behind on two scorecards and level on the third. He used his left forearm to lever Cunningham’s head back from a clinch, then followed up with a jackhammer right to end matters. Was the move strictly legal? Perhaps not but no one seemed to mind as Fury celebrated getting out of jail by serenading the adoring crowd with country hit Keep It Between The Lines by Ricky Van Shelton. The enthralling Saturday afternoon contest peaked at an impressive 1.7m viewers on NBC and averaged over 1.5m on Channel 5 in the UK.

 

D Pts 12 Deontay Wilder, Staples Center, Los Angeles, December 1 2018

Again, no sign of Peter Fury, but this time because he had been replaced as Fury’s head trainer by Ben Davision after Tyson’s extended, problem-plagued hiatus. Despite remaining unbeaten, Fury had only fought twice, against mediocre opposition, since taking two-and-a-half years away from the ring; he was a significant and understandable underdog against the undefeated WBC heavyweight champion with dynamite in his fists. Fury, with external expectations low and the pressure off, appeared happy and confident throughout the buildup and, for the most part, the fight itself. Wilder stalked and threatened but Fury proved evasive and accurate on the counter. He outboxed the champion for long periods but two knockdowns in Wilder’s favour made the scores close. The first, in round nine, looked a cuffing blow, but the huge right hand in the final session appeared conclusive at first glance. Fury’s apparent ’awakening’ went viral, making him a bigger star than ever before, but then the judges levelled a cruel blow, ruling the bout a draw. Public sympathy was wholly with Fury, however, for taking the fight in the first place, rising from what had appeared certain defeat and then being robbed at the finish.

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