A huge, powerful heavyweight who pulled off one of the greatest upsets in recent boxing history, Tyson Fury has certainly had his share of ups and downs over the course of his career. Born on August 12, 1988 in Wythenshawe, Manchester, England, his family has Irish Traveller heritage, and his father in particular fought first in bare-knuckle boxing and later professionally. His father named him after the one-and-only Mike Tyson, and Fury later gave himself the nickname “Gypsy King” for his background.
Of both Irish and English heritage, he represented both nations during the course of his somewhat-successful amateur career. At the 2006 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships, he took the bronze medal. He was close to making it on the UK’s 2008 Olympic team, but couldn’t quite make the cut. He then decided to turn professional, ending his amateur career with a 31-4 record.
His professional debut came on December 6, 2008 in Nottingham, England against Bela Gyongyosi, who he took out by TKO in the very first round after landing hard shots to his opponent’s head and body. He continued to show off his impressive power over his next six fights, all of which he won by either KO or TKO. None of the fights made it past the fourth round. Although none of the fights were against particularly notable opponents, Tyson Fury was still doing what he was supposed to do by taking those opponents out quickly and decisively, and he was fighting almost every month.
His 7-0 record earned him a shot at the English heavyweight title against Josh McDermott on September 11, 2009 at the Brentwood Centre Arena, but this fight proved much tougher than his first seven. In a back-and-forth fight with a relatively equal number of shots landed by both men, he won a decision on points after 10 rounds, although the crowd wasn’t happy about it. He got right back into action only 15 days later with another points win, this time over Tomas Mrazek after six rounds. He took several months to rest after his hectic fight schedule and got back into action on March 5, 2010 against Hans-Joerg Blasko. He broke his two-fight streak of decisions with a devastating first-round TKO.
With his record at 10-0, he got a chance to settle the score against McDermott at the same arena and once again for the English heavyweight title. The fight took place on June 25, 2010, and this time around he left no doubt about who was the better boxer, scoring a ninth-round TKO victory.
He followed that up with two eight-round decision victories over Rich Power and Zack Page before starching Marcelo Luiz Nascimento by KO in just five rounds. That earned him a shot at the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles against the dangerous and undefeated heavyweight Dereck Chisora. Both men were 14-0 at the time. While Chisora was the favorite, that didn’t matter to Fury, who used his size advantage to cruise to a unanimous decision victory.
He followed that up with a streak of TKOs, first against Nicolai Firtha and then against Neven Pajkic, before taking out Martin Rogan for the Irish heavyweight belt on April 14, 2012. He got another title shot after that performance, this one for the WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title, and he took the belt after scoring a fifth-round TKO against Vinny Maddalone.
At the end of 2012, he defeated Kevin Johnson by unanimous decision, and then he knocked out the highly regarded American fighter Steve Cunningham in Madison Square Garden on April 20, 2013. A fourth-round TKO against Joey Abell followed, and then he was set for another match against Chisora, this one for the European, WBO International and British heavyweight titles. Once again, he was far more impressive in the rematch than he was in the first fight, putting on a dominant performance until Chisora’s corner stopped the fight after the 10th round.
On February 28, 2015, he stopped Christian Hammer in eight rounds and then called out long-time heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in his post-fight interview.
He got his wish, as a fight was set with Klitschko on November 28, 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany, where the Ukrainian fighter was a fan favorite. The match was for the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles. Klitschko hadn’t been beaten since 2004 and had held heavyweight titles for almost a decade, but Tyson Fury was 24-0 and full of confidence. In the lead up to the fight, he constantly attacked his opponent verbally, talking trash every time he got the opportunity.
While many analysts thought Klitschko would cruise to another easy victory, Fury presented quite a few unique matchup problems. He was 3 inches taller than Klitschko at 6’9, making him one of the few fighters to have the size advantage. He also was very light on his feet, particularly for such a large man.
Those advantages were apparent on fight night, which saw him nimbly move around the ring and pop Klitschko with jabs, right hands and left hooks. He also wasn’t afraid to play mind games and showboat, as he continued taunting the champion before and during the fight, along with dropping his hands low and switching stances frequently.
Despite his sharp performance, the fight itself wasn’t particularly entertaining, as both fighters had some trouble landing. Still, after 12 rounds it was no surprise when the judges scored it for the British fighter by scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112. After taking the heavyweight title in a shocking upset, he immediately apologized to Klitschko for the pre-fight trash talk and mentioned how great of a champion Klitschko was. In his post-fight interview, he even sang some of an Aerosmith song to his pregnant wife.
Unfortunately, he ended up relinquishing his titles less than a year later on October 12, 2016 after numerous issues with scheduling his next fight, including a failed drug test for cocaine. After vacating his belts, he decided to get professional help and take some time off from boxing to recover from his personal issues.