With Tyson Fury returning to “action” this weekend against the former UFC champion Francis N’Gannou, I think it’s time to do a short study on the heavyweight king. I don’t want to spend today postulating on the Fury-N’Gannou matchup as it’s essentially a Mayweather-McGregor matchup. Tyson Fury should win outside of a outlying lucky punch from N’Gannou.
We’ve seen this fight before, it we are being completely honest. Tyson Fury has fought Deontay Wilder three times and each time, Fury was the win outside of the wild scorecards from the first fight. This fight will be much of the same.
In the past, we discussed Tyson Fury’s adjustments from the first fight to the second with Deontay Wilder. Today we will be focusing primarily on the third fight with a moment from the third Derek Chisora fight. Before you dive in, catch up on that video which is a embedded above.
Tyson Fury: Making life miserable
Part of fighting Tyson Fury is him making life an absolute misery for his opponent. He’s long, faster than he looks, great at parrying and puts his weight on you to tire you out. He’s incredibly tricky and is cocky when he is beating you up. What does he do, though? What makes Tyson Fury such a nightmare to fight?
At 6’9” and 278 pounds, Fury understands the gift he’s been given in his size. It’s not just one aspect either. He knows his reach advantage, weight, and height and uses it well. Against Wilder, especially in fight number three, Fury leaned against Wilder, pulling his head down, and tiring his back out. This took the steam out of Deontay Wilder as the fight went on and allowed Fury to mount his offense without the threat of such a heavy hitter.
Tyson Fury doesn’t simply lean on Wilder either. When Wilder, who predictably follows behind a long jab with his huge right hand, steps in after a large swing, Fury enters the clinch and begins to make you fight off of his pushing every direction.
As seen above, Tyson Fury (1) sees the jab of Deontay Wilder coming and knows the right hand is to follow. To defend the large punch, (2) Fury fires out the jab and misses to Wilder’s left. As Wilder’s right comes over the top, Fury (3) leaves the hand extended and dips behind his shoulder for cover. By doing this, Tyson Fury has avoided the large blow, especially early in this first round example, and gives himself an opportunity to (4) grab the back of the head, which is technically illegal in boxing, (5) wrench Wilder to the right, (6) push down on his head with his forearm, and (7) put his body weight on top of him as Wilder peeks out the back.
Is this illegal? Certainly. Grabbing the back of the head, pushing down, and clinching excessively are technically against boxing’s rule set. But they’re hardly every penalized outside of stern warnings and the effects are insanely beneficial to Tyson Fury. His wrestling with Deontay Wilder is tiring and takes the wind out of Wilder and take the power away as the back tires out. If he gets a point taken away, Fury still the benefit of a tired opponent later on in the fight. His boxing IQ, a term I generally hate, allows Fury to know which rules to bend and how much to bend them. Is it dirty? Absolutely. Can Deontay Wilder do the same thing? Absolutely.
The manipulation of distance
In a fight, controlling distance is the first line of defense and offense. If you can manipulate distance, you can control where the fight goes and how it takes place. Matthew Thornton, SBG’s founder and author of The Gift of Violence, the author talks about the importance of distance. Here’s a quote from that book:
The amount of time available may not be under your control. This loop doesn’t end until the physical altercation itself ends. Combat sports offer a terrific model for understanding this. In B]J, for example, you can feel your opponent’s grip, pressure, and general intentions. Rickson Gracie refers to this as “connection,” which he describes as the most important principle within BJJ. This isn’t some sort of mystical power, but simply the tactile sense that any combat athlete will develop over many years of training with resisting opponents. When training in this way, you are constantly observing, orienting, deciding, and acting. For your movements to be effective against a skilled oppo-nent, you must make your adjustments without conscious thought. If you first think to yourself, “Aha, this person is trying to get on my back,” they’ll likely already be on your back by the time you react.Matt Thornton’s The Gift of Violence
This dives into the realm of unconscious competence and when it comes to boxing, Tyson Fury is at that level. His control of distance is profound both going forward and going backwards.
Fury uses the double jab to force his opponents backwards and, as animated above, often follows with the classic cross. Against Wilder, after the twelfth round knockdown in the first fight, Fury worked out that Wilder did not like fighting off the back foot and decided to put him there as much as possible in fight two and to make it a point in fight three, though not as much as the second.
In addition to forcing a retreat from Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury also used the double jab to force Wilder into his power hand as well.
As the fight went on, Tyson Fury worked out that Deontay Wilder was on auto-pilot and could be influenced. To lead him into a right hand, Fury (1) flicked off a jab and would step to the left to show Wilder that he was going to cut off the ring to that side and possibly put him in a corner. Wilder, tired and not wanting to get leaned on anymore, (2) Wilder began shifting to Fury’s right, directly into his power hand. Fury flicks another jab out and guides Wilder further across as he steps to his right and line his right hand up as well. (3) When in position, Fury lands the right hand clean.
This compounds when a fighter’s unsure what’s Fury’s mode of attack. Is he looking to concede ground? Draw an attack? Is he throwing a right cross? Left hook? The possibilities are endless and Fury is a master at masking his intentions.
Throwing it over to the most recent Derek Chisora fight, Fury displays just this. (1) Tyson Fury steps in and will drop his hand as if to throw a jab down low. (2) Fury flashes the right hand to Chisora and his opponent bites and covers up for the right hand. As he wanted, (3) the left hand is free to fire and Fury lands it.
Part of controlling distance is to know how much you can and cannot control. Backed into a corner with Deontay Wilder doesn’t seem like a good time for anyone. But Tyson Fury is no mere man, as he’d like the public to know.
(1) Deontay Wilder often leads the long jab with his patented right. Fury, after spending two fights with the Bronze Bomber, knows this tendency and has prepared for it. (2) As Wilder throws the right hand, Fury comes over the top with a right to parry the blow off center to miss. He can’t retreat here due to being in the corner so he has to move the punches. (3) Wilder telegraphs a left behind the right and Fury turns from the left and moves to southpaw. Doing this loads up the right hand and forces the left to bounce off his shoulder like a shoulder roll. (4) After loading up the rear left, Wilder leaves his mid section open and (5) Fury lands the left uppercut to the body home.
Weaving in these small nuances, like the shoulder roll or switching briefly to southpaw, makes Fury that much more unpredictable. While he takes advantage of his opponents tendencies, he makes sure not to show any of his own. He does have his quirks that are predictable but Fury banks on the variety of things he can do to throw anyone looking to take that type of advantage off the trail.
Lastly, Fury knows that giving ground can be used as an offensive tactic. Wilder wants to land big punches and when he commits to throwing those big punches, he’s in it for the long haul.
(1) Wilder is throwing the jab to set up the right, once again. This time, Fury gives ground and (2) parries down the right with his left hand as he hits the ropes. (3) He leans off the ropes and brings his guard up to block the left and (4) steps down flashing the right, just as he did with Chisora earlier. Unlike Chisora, Wilder picks this up and starts to move backwards from the right. But Fury, a master of distance if you haven’t picked that up by now, knows the jab will reach and the cross will not. But he also knows that (5) stepping in on the jab will (6) bring the right into range.
At the end of the day, Tyson Fury is an incredibly deep fighter. But his distance management is his best weapon outside of his size. He knows how to use both in tandem and it works wonders. He’s one of the best heavyweights in history and it’s due to his natural gifts, like his size and length, and his hard work and hours in the gym working out his game.