MARTIN SAMUEL: Tyson Fury looks the smartest man in boxing

MARTIN SAMUEL: Deontay Wilder was beaten up, old school. It was thoroughly brutal – and exactly what Tyson Fury had predicted he would do. This was one of the greatest strategies in history

  • Tyson Fury boldly revealed his strategy for beating Deontay Wilder beforehand
  • The Gypsy King backed it up in one of the finest British heavyweight displays
  • Fury showed he is the smartest man in boxing following his incredible victory
  • REPORT: Tyson Fury blitzes Deontay Wilder in a stunning Las Vegas triumph  

He entered the arena to the strains of Patsy Cline’s Crazy and left it the sanest citizen in Las Vegas. Tyson Fury told everyone what he was going to do to Deontay Wilder.

He laid out his tactical plan, his objectives, even the reasoning behind his methods. All of the secrets athletes work so hard to keep hidden, all of the elements of surprise, Fury exposed.

And nobody believed him. Why? Well, the clue is in that song, a strange, maudlin entrance for such a warrior. He’s crazy. And only a lunatic would tell his opponent his precise intentions. 

Tyson Fury entered the MGM Grand Arena to strains of Patsy Cline’s Crazy on Saturday night

So it was a bluff, the world presumed. Yet there is a different dynamic at work here, one that undoubtedly worked in Fury’s favour.   

He genuinely suffers from mental illness, which is serious and troubling, but is also prone to wild contradictions, which is pretty standard in boxing. 

One day the sport is his reason for being and he could not live without it; the next he might give it all up two fights from now and live a quietly happy, very normal life.

So when Fury revealed his strategy for beating the most devastating puncher on the planet, his audience received the information gratefully, noted it down and immediately disregarded it. 

Fury would not reject his trademark style in the biggest fight of his life. He would not take just seven weeks to mint and perfect an approach unlike anything he has attempted before. That way madness lay. Only a madcap would take such an enormous risk. 

Now, after arguably the finest performance by any British heavyweight, who’s the crazy one? 

Fury produced arguably the finest performance by a British heavyweight in boxing history

The fight that Fury took to Wilder, the blueprint created with his new coach SugarHill Steward and honed in the legendary Kronk gym, will go down as one of the greatest strategies in sporting history. 

It was devastatingly effective, tactically sophisticated and extraordinarily ambitious. It changed, in minutes, the popular view of Fury and his potential, elevating him to the canon of truly great heavyweights. 

And its impact on Wilder was one of shock and awe. By the time his trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel – a decision that was made to appear more controversial than it was – Wilder looked as if he had turned the wrong corner alone in the roughest neighbourhood and been worked over by a gang armed with lead piping.

He had been beaten up, old school. It was thoroughly brutal – and exactly what Fury had predicted he would do.

So why did no-one believe him? Because he’s crazy. 

And that proved a weapon every bit as powerful as his boxing acumen, his movement – unique for a fighter of his size – his desire, his defensive wit, and fists that Wilder now knows are slightly harder than pillows. 

The Brit knocked down Wilder twice before his corner threw in the towel in round seven

‘I’m an old feather duster who can’t crack an egg,’ mocked Fury. Having fought before it appears strange to say but having underestimated Fury’s power, Wilder didn’t know what hit him.

Fury’s manager, Frank Warren, was bathing in the afterglow of a triumphant night. He now knows he has the key to what he called the biggest event in British sport since the 1966 World Cup final: Fury versus Anthony Joshua. 

No date, no venue and, if Fury boxes like that again, probably no contest either, but the potential is there for an occasion like no other. 

First, though, Warren was happy to indulge in a little I-told-you-so. He knew Fury was speaking the truth when he publicly mapped out his Wilder battle plan. He was nonplussed that it was seen as a ruse.

‘I told you what would happen,’ Warren crowed. ‘Everyone thought he was crazy to go toe to toe. Why is he crazy? It was like he couldn’t fight or something. Like he had no knockouts on his record. 

‘This is without a doubt the best performance of a British fighter, ever. Fury is up there with Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier, because this is his generation. 

Fury talking after his stunning Vegas victory, alongside promoter Frank Warren (bottom-right)

‘He beat the second longest-running champion ever in Wladimir Klitschko. He beat the man who was supposed to be the best of his generation, he just beat the biggest puncher. For a guy who doesn’t always look the most athletic and calls himself a fat bloke he is more athletic than all of the others put together. 

‘He moves quicker, he has a better boxing brain, he has great hand-eye coordination and he can fight on the back and front foot as a southpaw or orthodox. He is a nightmare to fight because he works out your style. 

‘He felt he never got the respect he deserved for beating Klitschko in Germany and I think that was part of the problem. He should have always been respected. He is a Traveller, he felt they were outsiders and he wasn’t being embraced. 

‘Unfortunately the people around him at the time were all quite negative instead of lifting him. This time it is different. You’ve not seen the best of him yet. He’s 31. He’s got no mileage on the clock.

‘I think he is in a great place because he has come back and got the love. He was not getting that before but people, especially in Britain, love a comeback story.

‘Somebody’s on the floor and they pull themselves up by their boots. I remember last year he was invited onto the pitch at half-time of a Manchester United game and he didn’t want to do it. 

‘I told him to just go out there and feel the love, I had to convince him that people loved him. So he went on and got the biggest cheer and it lifted him. It is not narcissistic; it’s just good to be made to feel part of something. People recognise what he is doing now.’ 

They certainly do. Fury’s win here will have resonated, certainly with those who saw it, because they will know first-hand what value he was for every second of those seven rounds. 

And even those who balked at the timing, or the pay per view fee, will be aware of the emphatic nature and bravery involved.

Britain has had some great fighters in recent years, not least Lennox Lewis who was ringside for this, yet however admirable Lewis’s body of work, he did not have a fight as brilliant as Fury-Wilder II. 

This was special because both men were in their prime. And it was special because Fury barely took a backward step. He chased Wilder around the ring and would probably do the same to Joshua.

‘You don’t fight a puncher by dancing for 12 rounds,’ said veteran promoter Bob Arum. 

‘You jump on him from the start, take him into waters where he doesn’t want to go.’ 

‘They were the perfect tactics for this fight and they would be the great for fighting Joshua,’ echoed Warren. 

‘You would jump on him and put him on the back foot because you know, if you clip him, he is going to go. It’s the old Waterford crystal.’ And Warren pointed to his chin.

Fury, meanwhile, was off to Hakkasan, the Las Vegas branch of which is as much nightclub as Asian fine dining venue. 

Fury had talked before the fight of a celebration that blended cocaine with call girls, but no-one took that seriously either – and this time the cynicism was almost certainly right. Warren even cast doubts on whether his man would drink. 

Fury seems the smartest man in boxing and is now the world’s number one heavyweight

‘I asked if he was going to get p***** to celebrate, but he said he had done enough of that in the three years he was out celebrating,’ he explained. 

Fury’s missing years – part mental health issues, mainly the result of a failed drugs test – are among the reasons he did previously go short of respect. 

Without doubt he is in a better place – and as Warren said ‘a better person’ – now. It makes an enormous difference to the sport, too, that the it now has a charismatic heavyweight champion. 

Wilder did his best as a showman – and his masked entrance with glowing red eyes was as intimidating as he appeared all night – but shouting ‘Bomb Squad’ at regular intervals cannot compare with Fury leading a crowd of 15,000 in a fully committed version of American Pie, as he did in celebration from the middle of the ring here.

Fury’s mental wellbeing is certainly no act but whatever part of the rest of it is put on for show, that edge is a useful one. Whether Fury is talking, philosophising, singing or fighting, it contributes to a package that has made him, indisputably, the heavyweight division’s number one.

Joshua has more belts, Fury greater credibility. Reflecting on the night’s activities in a suit and tie, but shirtless, Fury suddenly looked the smartest man in boxing. Madness, it seems, is all in the mind.

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