For a time in 2015, Tyson Fury was on top of the world. He had just defeated the great Wladimir Klitschko to claim a host of heavyweight titles, and was firmly established as the new king in boxing town. In a matter of months it had all been dashed to pieces, as the IBF stripped Fury of its title before a couple of failed drugs tests led him to vacate his remaining belts.
Fury has since spoken of the mental turmoil he endured at that time of his life, with the media hounding his every past step while he battled depression. Three years after all that, he is back at heavyweight boxing’s top table, eager to reclaim the titles he once made his own.
His upcoming bout against Otto Wallin provides another opportunity to make further strides towards that goal. Swedish national Wallin is something of an unknown quantity on the biggest stage, with all of his fights taking place in Europe until now. His first scheduled match on US soil against Nick Kisner ended in a no contest after Kisner was cut in the first round following an accidental clash of heads.
The latest Fury v Wallin odds reflect that the former champion is firm favorite to despatch the Swede. Indeed, his swift victory over Tom Schwarz in June was proof that Fury is only getting better and better. When he first returned to face Sefer Seferi in June 2018, Fury was overweight and eager to showboat, but since then he has taken his trade much more seriously.
The evidence of this was manifest as Fury took on Deontay Wilder last December for the WBC heavyweight title. In a match that was ultimately called a draw, Fury matched Wilder in every department, with many fans deeming that Fury had indeed won the bout. A tantalising rematch awaits at some stage in 2020, but Fury’s performance in that fight was proof that he has what it takes to scale the same heights he reached before his career came crashing down.
At his best, Fury is a heavyweight in the truest sense of the word. Large and foreboding in the ring, deceptively quick, unsparingly powerful – there are few fighters who inspire fear in their opponents quite like him. Wilder is another similarly fearsome fighter, and that is why their bout garnered so much interest, and why their rematch will attract even more.
Anthony Joshua is another who could potentially stand in Fury’s way, though he has hit a stumbling block in the considerable shape of Andy Ruiz Jr, who caused a stir by unexpectedly defeating Joshua in Madison Square Gardens in June on the Englishman’s US debut. However, if Joshua can reclaim his titles when the pair meet again in December in Saudi Arabia, then he will be right on course again to meet the winner of Fury vs Wilder.
Joshua certainly represents all that is good about boxing, a man who went from troubled beginnings to dominate his sport through hard work and dedication, a player who found a sport in which he could channel his past frustrations.
Fury is more of an antihero, a troubled, flawed fighter for whom boxing has caused as much pain as joy. However, for that very reason, redemption for Fury would be all the sweeter. He has overcome a lot to get back to where he is now, and has served the punishment he undoubtedly deserved.
There are still plenty of obstacles between Fury and those titles he so agonizingly abandoned three years ago, but he has always been a boxer who has defied expectations. The first such hurdle is Otto Wallin, a man who will have his own set of motivations to defeat such a big name. The complacency that defined Fury’s return against Seferi, a significantly weaker opponent, is no longer to be seen. Come the 14th September, it will be all business – and victory for Fury would represent another stride along the road to redemption.