British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is not the finished article and going off Saturday nights performance in his 3 round knockout win over Neven Pajkic, the Mancunian seems to have gone backwards and unravelled some of his good early career work.
Having said that Fury's style and stand up and fight attitude, makes for great entertainment and exciting viewing. The Commonwealth title defence against Canadian champion Pajkic at Event City, Trafford Park, Fury's first fight in his home City of Manchester, was no exception to the that rule.
As he says himself, 'It's always value for money when Tyson Fury fights'
Fury is now 17-0, 12KO's and with there not being a massive pool of heavyweights stepping to the fore, many believe that Fury could be a leading candidate to eventually mature into a boxer capable of challenging the dominance of the Klitschko brother's at world level. But if Saturday's performance is anything to go off, Fury needs to get himself together, before the wheels fall off the Fury bandwagon and all the hard work to date is wasted in the blink of an eye.
Against Pajkic, Fury was dropped for the first time as a professional, when in round two, the Canadian challenger landed an over hand right that caught Fury flush on the chin, knocking him over and onto his back. He got straight up, his head cleared straight away and he took the fight back to Pajkic.
Pajkic was no mug, but Fury made hard work of the fight from the first round. He was guilty of lunging in with his punches, hands low and no defence, open and lax with his chin in the air ready to be hit, Pajkic eventually obliged him. The knockdown at least unleashed the never say die attitude of Fury and he gave it back to Pajkic with interest in the next round, but at this stage it was a slug fest, a car park brawl and it seemed a case of whoever landed flush first, would take it.
Fury had started the fight flat footed and stood in front of the smaller Pajkic, waiting for him to make his move. The feet were planted because Fury's tactics it seemed were to counter Pajkic as he came in with the knockout punch. Fury shown no movement, his punches were slow and he chose to neglect the skills and sharpness he has shown in glimpses before. Punches were flying past the whiskers of both and some shots were being loaded up and telegraphed into wild dangerous swings. Pajkic marauded forward, Fury didn't move back or to the sides, but met Pajkic head on and both often got tangled in a scrappy mess, their arms locking together, it wasn't vintage, but it was edge of the seat drama.
And then it happened, the pride and will to win in Fury brought him through some tricky moments and he finished Pajkec off. He started the third round with a bit more urgency, his pride had been wounded by the knockdown and with the crowd going wild at ringside and his friends and family encroaching the ring in over-exuberant support for the 6' 9" champion, Fury was now on red alert and went after Pajkic but was leaving himself open to the counter.
Fury was pushing Pajkic back now and around the ring, but was still getting caught with hooks inside, but he was intent on taking retribution. Hyped, he landed a crunching right uppercut on the chin of Pajkic, which he did well to stay up from. Fury now sensed his moment and didn't let his opponent off the hook.
As the pair came together again, Pajkic locked Fury's left arm in a tight grip, unable to release it, Fury let loose with six right hooks that all landed, the last eventually felling the tough Pajkic. He was up early and took the refs eight count. Fury went in for the finish landing a big right cross, followed by a chopping left, right hook that had Pajkic over for the second time. Again he rose and again Fury went in for the kill. Right hand, left hook and a grazing uppercut were administered by Fury and the referee decided to jump in and stop the fight at that point.
Pajkic was angry at the stoppage and in his immediate response pushed the referee. It did look a bit premature at the time, but Pajkic was hurt and referee Phil Edwards decision to stop the fight at 2:44 of the round was just and compassionate, Pajkic looked too brave for his own good and would probably have kept getting up, it was a good call.
It was a win for Fury, but not a good performance, it was what we don't see in heavyweight boxing very often, a fast paced, no holds barred war. It was a very good spectacle for the fans. Saturday night prime time entertainment, being beamed live on terrestrial TV. For Channel 5 and non ardent followers of boxing, maybe just tuning in because it was on, wouldn't have been disappointed and will more than likely tune in to the next boxing installment.
But for the boxing purists and them with hope for Fury and his talents, we are not happy with his last two performances and the way he has neglected his fundamental boxing skills and his physical attributes. Fury has a very good jab, a jab that could be developed into a great jab. A range finder that would flick out in twos and threes, keeping an opponent occupied and on the outside. It would snap an opponents head back when brought from the shoulder and stepped into. A jab that would be thrown with speed to blind the man, while the right hand was sent in over the top. It is a punch that opens everything else up and one that though Fury can throw, chooses to neglect in order to get involved in a scrap.
I always believed Larry Holmes carried the perfect heavyweight jab, he would flick it as a range finder and also use it as a power shot, doubling it up with great effect. For Lennox Lewis everything would come off the jab, it wasn't always entertaining edge of the seat stuff that big Lennox dished out, but it was effective high level championship boxing in the name of the game.
I first met Tyson Fury at Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy in Wythenshawe, Manchester. Then and still the gym is run by Steve and Shaun Egan, sons of the late Jimmy, who taught me to box as a youngster.
Then it was the Benchill Boxing Club in the old Sharston swimming baths and then above the Benchill pub, many moons ago. A great man was Jimmy an old school dedicated coach and his two sons have taken on his role after the eld fella passed away in 2004 after a battle with cancer.
Shaun and Steve have since produced a succession of amateur champions in their own right, but Jimmy's name will always ring out within the new gym on the other side of the south Manchester council estate.
In 2006 I'd started training for a fight and asked Steve if I could come and use the gym to get in shape. At the time they were using a school hall to train and Steve pointed to a couple of lads in the corner who were taping up their hands.'Guess how old he is'? Steve asked me, pointing out Tyson. I couldn't tell but it had to be 25 plus? 'Seventeen' laughed Steve. 'And his brother Shane is 15' he added. Shane was the lad stood with him, who was a big fellow in his own right and both looked much older than their teenage years suggested.Steve went on, 'Tyson Fury is his name' and he will be heavyweight champion of the world one day!' - I believed him. I shook Tyson and Shane's hand's and over the next few years on and off I trained quietly beside them and the other lads at the gym. I watched Tyson spar with his brother many times and the pair never let sibling love get in the way and on occasions had some very competitive sessions! - Even then there was something about Tyson, a sparkling energy.
Tyson's dad and former professional fighter Gypsy John Fury would sometimes come and train at the gym and hit the bags. John was someone I had bought a couple of vans off a few years earlier and it was when I put two and two together that I remember seeing John's young kids riding Quad bikes in the field surrounding his house, when I went to pick up a van one time. That would have been the young Tyson. Since then the name stuck and I have followed his boxing with Steve's prophecy in my mind.
Over them couple of years I went to the local community centres and the Civic Forum watching Tyson's last half dozen amateur fights, including his loss to David Price. He then went to London to claim the ABA title just before turning professional. Below is a video of Tyson called 'Fist's of Fury' made by local journalist Mike Todd, around this time.
Tyson eventually turned professional in December 2008 and with it left Steve and Shaun and Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy to train with his uncle Hughie, as well as former fighter Robert McCracken in Birmingham. Tyson then left McCracken and went back to train with Steve for his first fight with John McDermot, but after that close fight, they went their separate ways again.
Since then Fury has gone through a succession of trainers including his Dad, Brian Hughes and Pat Barrett. He also made his own way to America to track down Emanuel Steward to train with the legendary coach. In between all this uncle Hughie has been there to train him in between. During this period under the different trainers, over three years, Fury managed to win the English, British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles and remain unbeaten in 17 professional fights. His latest trainer for the Pajkec fight was Canadian Chris Johnson who used to coach Steve Molitor.
Before the fight Fury had split with uncle Hughie, sighting family fall outs for the parting of ways. Fury had been residing in a caravan at Hughie's house and behind the gym where he trained with his uncle in Lancaster. Since the split Fury as moved to Morcombe Bay. He ran on the beach in his new home seafront town in preparation for the first defence of his Commonwealth belt. But it seems now all wasn't right before the fight and it shown in Fury's condition and performance.
Fury now 23, didn't enter the Pajkic fight in full fighting shape, he wasn't primed and he wasn't sharp. He didn't look in the zone until the 3rd round and then it was a semi controlled aggression, with no tactical thought. He pounded and bullied Pajkic with his size power and force. It wasn't pretty and he could have made lighter work of Pajkic and other opponents like this in the future, if he were to use his given talents and strengths to there maximum.
In the Pajkic's fight, Fury was drawn in to a fight, forgetting and neglecting his better ring credentials. Before and during the fight, the Manchester heavyweight also shown his vulnerabilities. All fighters have them and have to work tirelessly to correct and conquer them in and out of the ring. Fury had spoke prior to the fight about his mental demons, angry tendencies and insecurities. In the fight he mirrored these in his physical output and didn't look like a boxer in control, almost like he didn't want to be in there.
|Tyson with his dad Gypsy John Fury|
The Fury knockdown in round two against Pajkec will be shown endlessly now before every fight he has here after. A big question mark will hang over him and every pre-fight analysis will be filled with clips of him sprawled out on the canvas. His future opponents will be inspired knowing he can be hurt and put down and will look to get Fury to trade with them, thus taking away his main assets and tools.
Fury needs to firstly knock himself in tip top shape until it hurts, like never before he needs to take his body into the realms of a supreme fighting athlete, if he is serious about reaching the very top and staying there. A permanent trainer who he believes in trusts and respects is essential in his development from here on in.
Tyson and his wife Paris now have two young children and it is a time of his life now where he should be settled, focused and making great strides in his chosen career. But in February this year his dad John was sentenced to 11 years in prison and it is a situation that is still raw for Tyson and weighing heavy on his mind. His dad had travelled the world with him as an amateur and pro to every fight and was his chief cheer leader, his rock and his security, the person he trusted, who was always there for him and now he wasn't! Gypsy John once even drove to Siberia and Poland to see him box as an amateur because he didn't want to fly.
Tyson has stated his regret and sadness that his dad may never see him fight live again during his career and the recent rumblings in the close knit Fury family and the absence of uncle Hughie, seemed to have affected his recent performances. Against Chisora he shown glimpses of how affective he can be when he gets on his toes and uses his jab and movement. Although he cannot seem to help getting involved in a war and I guess that's just in his make-up and what makes him exciting to watch. Tyson's heart and bravery are certainly not in question. - But if he is to reach and fight for a world title and become the world champion Steve Egan told me he would be years back, he must live the life and find a peace of mind and strength to be the best he can be on every occasion in the gym and in the ring on fight night.
The British heavyweight champion is certainly active and promoter Mick Hennesey isn't holding him back, with plans for a fight on January 28th early next year at the Emperor Sport's rooms in Blackpool. Then big plans are abreast for Fury, who is of Irish decent, to fight on St. Patrick's Day at Madison Square Garden, on March 17th. - The Fury show is still on course and it will always be interesting while it continues. - Long may it.
By Chris Maylett