Wladimir Klitschko, 40 in March, lost out, to the challenge of a younger, more brash challenger, the delightfully named Tyson Fury, Saturday in Dusseldorf, and maybe more notably, Father Time kicked Wlad's butt.
He was the aging gunfighter, who saw ample openings, but just…could…not…pull…the trigger. Klitschko was listless, clinching when he should have punched, and looked the opposite of sharp from the get go.
After twelve unexciting–to put it mildly, and kindly–rounds, we heard the judges' cards:
The scrap unfolded at the ESPRIT arena and on HBO.
Wlad (245 pounds; born in Ukraine, fighting out of Kiev and Hamburg) came in with a 64-3 mark, while Fury (245; from England and of Irish stock) was 24-0 (18 KOs).
Fury (listed at 6-9) spoke a good game entering, promising to take the old man down. He pretended to be Batman at a presser, drawing chuckles, but did it work when he called Wlad an “old guy?” Did he get under the skin of the robotic, in a good way, Wlad (listed at 6-6)?
We recall David Haye talked a superior game, and Wlad said he went over the line..and then Haye fought like a lamb, so talking and doing are never by any means directly correlated.
In the first, Fury feinted. They clinched a few times, after assessing each other. Fury was busier, was mugging, but mostly feinting.
In the second, Fury was busier. Wlad was waiting, scouting.
In the third, Wlad started working more. Fury went lefty. The action wasn't…this was boring.
In the fourth, Fury flurried a bit. He got busier. Wlad was cautious, over cautious, then landed a right late. A cut from a butt was under the left eye of Wlad, in the fifth. Trainer John Banks asked for a right hand to the body.
In round six, Fury moved. Wlad waited..and followed..and heard Fury yap at him.
In the seventh, Wlad didn't fight furiously. He clinched, time and again.
In the eighth, Fury was more energized than Wlad, same as before. Wlad clinched, bizarrely, when he needed to win rounds. In round nine, a right from Wlad was sharp. A left hook from Fury landed, hard.
In the tenth, Wlad didn't fight with needed urgency. Banks told Wlad he needed to “go get it.”
In the 11th, Wlad started working. Then clinched…Ref Weeks took a point for rabbit punching from Fury, but Fury probably won the round.
In the 12th, Wlad landed a heavy right, then a left hook. Klitschko was finally waking up…Too late, we went to the cards..
I am cognizant of the commonplace reaction among us fight fans, to not give proper credit to a winner, and instead focus on what the loser didn't do.
So I must make sure to give proper credit to Tyson Fury for what he did do over 12 rounds in Dusseldorf on Saturday night. He left the arena after hearing some marvelous math, the judges saying he won 115-112, 115-112, 116-111. The gap of the margin might have been larger, and would have been if not for a point taken from the horrible crooning Traveller in round 11.
But, apologies to the loads of Fury fans, the story of this fight was that Wladimir looked every minute of his 39 plus years, and then some. Wlad had zero spark for the vast majority of the match, and his punch output was sub pathetic. He was that aging gunfighter who surely saw the opening, but whose reflexes were shot, and left him unable to pull the trigger. Sure, Fury did some functional things. But Wlad just…didn't…couldn't punch.
Fury rises to 25-0 and really should dedicate his next selection on karaoke night to Father Time, who did a number on Klitschko.
Before the bout, I asked Max Kellerman what might happen. “Most likely what usually happens,” the HBO analysts told me. “But everyone gets old sometimes.”
Indeed; sometimes was last night, in Germany. Fury insisted in the leadup this would happen and really, no one but a tiny pocket of believers and anti-Klitschko sorts thought him a live dog. Fury was billed as the “tallest opponent of Wladimir's career,” but that's just not so. It was that merciless process that gets us all, no ifs or buts…Father Time wrecked Wlad's chances before he stepped into that ring..and Fury did enough to not screw up the script fate had written. The numbers do a good job at telling the story; Wlad landed 52 punches over 12 rounds, a sub meager amount. He threw a less than anemic 251 punches over all. He knew what he had to do, his brain sent signals to perform the necessary actions…but his body rebelled. Out of order, the bodily vessel was. So, let's keep this fight in proper perspective, shall we.
Tyson Fury showed himself to be a competent heavyweight…while Father Time showed himself to be, still, unconquerable.