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Tyson Fury still has much to do

Tyson Fury
Action Images/REUTERS/Mike Segar
Matt Christie on what to make of Tyson Fury's latest victory

TYSON FURY’S victory over Tom Schwarz was mightily impressive as he scored his quickest victory since 2009 to wow the Las Vegas crowd on his Sin City debut. There was power and irresistible showmanship. There was both spite and intelligence crafting the punches that finished the German in two rounds. It was easy to see why so many people are getting excited and declaring Fury the best heavyweight in the world. Truth is, it’s hard to envision any fighter in his weight class beating him on this form.

It’s also important to add some reality to the hoopla. Firstly, the opponent. Fury came to the ring dressed like Apollo Creed but Tom Schwarz wasn’t exactly Ivan Drago. No, Tom Schwarz, though willing and brave and immensely likeable, wasn’t even Spider Rico. He was so far below Fury that anything less than the bludgeoning that transpired would have been a disappointment.

Ignore Schwarz’s implausible No. 2 ranking with the WBO for a moment and you have an opponent who had no chance of winning – which was precisely the point, considering this was Fury’s first fight of a projected many with new stateside promoter, Top Rank.

Secondly, that lineal heavyweight championship of the world thing we keep hearing about. If – as his promoters keep telling us – Fury really is the lineal champion, if even after announcing his retirement several times during his two-and-a-half-year hiatus, if even after failing a drug test and getting a back-dated ban, he really has a claim to the world title, then his team must take some responsibility for Schwarz being one of the worst challengers in history. He’s right up there with Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta who Fury defeated last year.

Team Fury can’t have it both ways, you see. They can’t keep telling us he’s rebuilding and working his way back while also trying to claim he already owns what he came back for. Because the likes of Schwarz, Seferi and Pianeta, while perfectly acceptable comeback opponents, were not remotely worthy of challenging for a world title and Fury, on paper, has not been declared the winner over a world-class opponent since 2015.

Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury is in the midst of an extraordinary comeback Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

It’s true, were it not for some contentious judging in Los Angeles last December, Fury would have that legitimate world belt around his waist. But the 12-round thriller with WBC champion Deontay Wilder – after a truly exhilarating performance from Fury – was called a draw. That was enough for Boxing News to place the Englishman ahead of the “Bronze Bomber” in our world rankings, but it was not enough to prevent Fury, still an ex-champion on the comeback trail, from facing a hand-picked opponent in his next fight.

But that mythical lineal championship aside, the Fury-Schwarz exhibition was a promotional masterclass from Bob Arum and Frank Warren. Likewise Fury – in the build-up, during the ringwalk, in the ring and in the aftermath – did everything and more that was asked of him.

Furthermore, it was probably a wise move to steer clear of Wilder in the immediate future and draw some confidence and match fitness from the Schwarz shellacking and whomever he fights later in the year. That Wilder-Fury return is just getting bigger and bigger.

The mountain that the “Gypsy King” has climbed, to potentially be one half of such a showdown, should never be overlooked. All the signs are pointing to something truly spectacular; that Fury could be in the midst of the one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, that he truly is a one-in-a-million talent.

The way he finished Schwarz exhibited a new and improved Fury, one who put his foot down against an inferior rival rather than drifting into cruise control, one who remains fit between camps and one who is saying and doing all the right things when a microphone is under his nose. Most importantly of all, he is taking the sport seriously, he is enjoying it after long spells of disenchantment. And it’s that newfound dedication, alongside some serious talent, that gives him the best chance of truly conquering the world. Because, whatever anyone else might tell you, he’s not quite there yet.

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