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Everything You Need to Know about Tyson Fury Ahead of His Heavyweight Unification Bout

Tyson Fury faced a stiffer-than-expected challenge when he fought Francis Ngannou on October 23, 2023, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Fury, a 14-1 favorite, was shockingly knocked down by the former UFC heavyweight champion in the third round and looked sluggish throughout the bout. 


Ngannou came into the 10-round contest having never fought professionally as a boxer, and his success against Fury suggested the WBC champion may not have taken the bout as seriously as he should have. While Fury claimed to have completed a 12-week training camp—double his usual length—he entered the showdown weighing 10 pounds more than he did in his most recent bout, a December 2022 victory against Derek Chisora. 


Despite Ngannou’s success throughout the contest, Fury avoided going down again while also landing some jabs and shots of his own. His performance earned him a controversial split-decision victory, winning on scorecards of 95-94, 96-93, and 94-95.  


Following the fight, a battered-looking Fury met with fellow heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk. A former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk had been scheduled to meet Fury for a much-anticipated heavyweight unification bout on December 23. 


With Fury’s left eye badly swollen, Fury’s promoter cast doubt in the post-fight interview on whether the 35-year-old would be prepared for a matchup only two months out. A week later, it was announced that Fury-Usyk had been moved to February 17. 


Usyk, with WBO, WBA, IBF, and The Ring titles, will come into the bout with a record of 21-0, having most recently retained his belts in an August knockout victory over Daniel Dubois. Holding both the WBC and lineal titles (the latter indicating that he defeated the previous champion), Fury will step into the ring with a record of 34-0-1. His only draw occurred in a match against Deontay Wilder, whom he defeated in two rematches. 


Boxing fans are looking forward to a clash in which the two best heavyweights in the sport will vie for divisional supremacy. Fury himself has expressed confidence that he’ll prevail, saying in a November 16 press conference that he is the “future undisputed heavyweight champion.” As he prepares for the unification bout, let’s take at Fury’s life and career, and how the British boxer got to the point of potentially being the first undisputed heavyweight champion in more than 20 years. 


Early Life 


Tyson Luke Fury was born on August 12, 1988, outside Manchester, England. His roots trace back to a family of English travelers, often colloquially known as "gypsies," which explains his nickname, the Gypsy King. 


Fury weighed only 1 pound after being born three months prematurely, and doctors said he had a poor chance of survival. However, his father was convinced he would defy the odds and named his son Tyson after former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. 


Fury started boxing at 14, at which time he was already 6-foot-5. He eventually grew to 6-foot-9, and for much of his career, he was trained by his father, a former professional boxer.  


Boxing Career 


The younger Fury turned professional in 2008. His first bout was a first-round TKO over Hungarian boxer Bela Gyongyosi. He claimed his first belt, the English heavyweight title, in his eighth contest with a decision win over John McDermott. Many observers believe Fury had lost the fight, but the Briton silenced any doubters when, nine months later, he scored a TKO victory over McDermott in a rematch. 


Fury began what would become a trilogy with Derek Chisora in 2011. Their second fight, which Chisora lost after his corner stopped the fight in the 10th round, saw Fury secure three minor belts, including the WBO International Heavyweight title. 


Becoming Champion 


The Briton had by this time made known that he wanted a shot at Wladimir Klitschko. In 2015, he got his wish.  


Klitschko was the WBC, WBO, and IBF champion and came into the clash with Fury riding an 11-year unbeaten streak. Fury bested his Ukrainian counterpart despite being a clear underdog, winning on scores of 115-112, 116-111, and 115-112.  


The surprising win initially brought jubilation for Fury, but becoming champion later proved to be a curse. Believing he had nothing to prove, Fury didn’t fight for nearly three years. During this time, his weight ballooned to a reported 400 pounds as he battled depression and substance abuse issues. 


Return to Boxing  


He eventually got back in shape and returned to the ring in June 2018. Six months later, he squared off against WBC champion Deontay Wilder. The undefeated American fighter floored Fury twice, but the Briton boxed well enough to earn a split-decision draw. 


Fury got his revenge 15 months later when he knocked down Wilder twice on his way to scoring a seventh-round TKO over the “Bronze Bomber.” Fury backed up the win in October 2021, knocking out Wilder in the 11th round of an action fight with five total knockdowns. 


The Gypsy King brought his trilogy with Chisora to a close in 2022 when he scored a TKO over the Zimbabwe native. Nearly a year passed before his fight with Ngannou, a gap during which Fury’s and Usyk’s camps engaged in protracted negotiations over a unification clash. Come February 2024, the wait will finally be over. 


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