Bri­tain braces for po­lar­is­ing hero

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — Bri­tain, a coun­try renowned for lov­ing gal­lant losers, must now learn to live with the most po­lar­is­ing hero in its sport­ing his­tory.

This na­tion’s first op­por­tu­nity to come to af­fec­tion­ate terms with Tyson Fury will present it­self when he de­fends all the world heavy­weight ti­tles he won in such un­ex­pected, un­ortho­dox and, for many, un­be­liev­able style on an un­for­get­table Satur­day night against the man who had reigned supreme over heavy­weight box­ing for a decade.

Wladimir Kl­itschko will in­voke the re­match clause in their con­tract and make a bid to re­gain his WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Mag­a­zine belts.

When­ever and wher­ever that hap­pens — be it in Ger­many next April or at Wem­b­ley or Old Traf­ford in May — it is likely to end in an­other bam­boo­zled fail­ure against the Manch­ester gi­ant who drove him to dis­trac­tion and de­feat in Dus­sel­dorf and who recorded a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion.

Fury could not care less if he has to re­turn to Ger­many to do it all over again. Nor need he. The scale of the up­set with which he has shocked the world — the big­gest since Mike Tyson was struck down by James Buster Dou­glas — was el­e­vated by his achieve­ment tak­ing place in Kl­itschko’s adopted home­land.

Un­less Kl­itschko can solve the puz­zle of the Gypsy King — which looks be­yond even this chess player’s pow­ers — a se­cond vic­tory over this iconic fig­ure will ce­ment Fury’s place in his­tory.

Al­ready, he has de­liv­ered an un­for­get­table night for those who can say we were there.

Al­ready, he is not only the eighth Bri­tish heavy­weight to be­come world cham­pion but the first mem­ber of the trav­el­ling com­mu­nity to do so. A legacy in progress. By the time they meet again Kl­itschko will have turned 40, too old to im­prove or change the style which had been so ef­fec­tive for so long. Fury will still be 27, fur­ther em­bold­ened by yet more of that out­ra­geous self-con­fi­dence and his prow­ess en­hanced by this spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess.

The man­ner in which he wears the crown will af­fect how quickly the Bri­tish pub­lic take him to their hearts. The stunts, the an­tics and the provoca­tive opin­ions were out­spo­kenly ex­pressed in or­der to sell the fight on pay-tv back home.

Bri­tain needs to see more of the nice guy be­hind the Bat­man mask and he of­fered to ev­ery­one a glimpse of that per­sona in his hour of tri­umph.

Fury gave re­spect to Kl­itschko: “If I can be half as great a cham­pion as Wladimir I will be very happy.”

He was at first tear­ful, then proud but also hum­ble in vic­tory: “It is an hon­our for me to have beaten this man, to be sit­ting here with all th­ese belts, to have joined the list of Bri­tish world cham­pi­ons, to be­come the first heavy­weight cham­pion of Ir­ish her­itage, to be the first trav­eller to win this ti­tle.”

Fury had goaded Kl­itschko with his an­tics and threats to pull out of the great­est night of his life and some of his state­ments had of­fended many of his own coun­try­men.

He even kept wait­ing the 55,000 gath­er­ing in Dus­sel­dorf’s roofed-in foot­ball sta­dium — vet­eran rocker Rod Ste­wart and his cameo cur­tain-raiser in­cluded — by in­sist­ing that the cham­pion with the se­cond most con­sec­u­tive de­fences in ring his­tory re-wrapped his hands un­der su­per­vi­sion by one of his team. But as it tran­spired that was all part of the psy­chol­ogy be­fore the phys­i­cal dis­play of as­ton­ish­ing agility by such a huge hu­man be­ing.

Walk the walk af­ter talk­ing the talk? Fury, all 6ft 9in of him, danced the dance. He had said he would con­fuse and bewil­der the seem­ingly in­vin­ci­ble Kl­itschko. Few could quite be­lieve him. There was noth­ing in his form line, al­beit that he was un­beaten, to sug­gest he could as­cend to elite world level. Yet he de­liv­ered on that prom­ise. Big time.

So re­mark­ably light was he on his feet that it is not an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that while he is still on the foothills of ever em­u­lat­ing The Great­est ever, his speed and move­ment were Ali-es­que.

So was the im­pu­dence. When he was re­peat­edly warned by Amer­i­can ref­eree Tony Weeks for punch­ing the back of his op­po­nent’s head — even­tu­ally hav­ing a point de­ducted which might have proved costly had the fight been re­ally close — he play­fully pat­ted Kl­itschko on the back­side.

He also risked putting his own hands be­hind his back at one point, to em­pha­sise how hard it was for his op­po­nent to land punches. Not that it was easy for Fury to con­nect, so prac­tised is Kl­itschko in his own de­fence. But the cuts and swelling to Kl­itschko’s left cheek and right eye bore their own tes­ti­mony as to who de­served to win this fight.

The man­ner of Fury’s vic­tory is as good for the hard­est game at large as it is for Bri­tish box­ing, which now boasts no fewer than 11 world cham­pi­ons in what is promis­ing to be­come a golden age.

An­other of Fury’s largely un­de­tected hu­man qual­i­ties is his loy­alty and Mick Hen­nessy, the man­ager to whom he re­mained faith­ful through the hard times de­spite siren calls from big­ger names, is right when he says: “The world now has a young, fresh, ex­cit­ing, brash heavy­weight cham­pion who is so un­pre­dictable that not even I know what he is go­ing to do next.”

Nor did Kl­itschko. Fury raced across the ring at the first bell to prove he was more than ready for what the Ukrainian had called his “wel­come to big-time box­ing”. Then he moved and jabbed and at times taunted Kl­itschko, who would ad­mit: “I couldn’t land my left jab or my heavy right hand, which are my big­gest weapons”.

Had Fury driven him to the verge of re­tire­ment? Kl­itschko said: “We have lost the bat­tle but not the fighter. That fighter is still in me. Do I want the re­match? Yes. That’s why it is in my con­tract. De­feat is a learn­ing process and I will di­gest this les­son and come back bet­ter.”

His el­der brother Vi­tali, him­self a for­mi­da­ble heavy­weight cham­pion be­fore re­tir­ing into Ukraine pol­i­tics, con­firmed: “This was not the real Wladimir. Partly that was be­cause of Fury and con­grat­u­la­tions to him on this per­for­mance. But my brother will want to show his true self in the re­match.”

The part played by his un­cle-cum-trainer can­not be over­stated. Not only did Peter Fury some­how bring his naughty nephew to bat­tle leaner, quicker, faster and stronger than ever be­fore but he de­vised a bril­liant game plan. Fury’s vic­tory was a tri­umph for in­ge­nu­ity, imag­i­na­tion and dar­ing to be dif­fer­ent.

Since, de­spite his some­times lurid out­bursts dur­ing the build-up, there was no gloat­ing by Fury af­ter the event, Eng­land should stand ready to salute him.

As a non-drinker now, he plans no im­me­di­ate cel­e­bra­tions.

He was over­joyed when his wife Paris ar­rived to tell him she was ex­pect­ing: “We’re preg­nant. We’ve been try­ing for our third child for two years. My cel­e­bra­tion will be with the fam­ily on De­cem­ber 25.”

Happy Christ­mas, champ. You de­serve it. — dai­ly­

Tyson Fury goes for the jugu­lar against Wladimir Kl­itschko

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