Former heavyweight champ and current contender Tyson Fury would probably fare well if he could go back in time and fight some of the greatest of the greats who held the title.
And that'll be hard to digest for some ole school ruffians because Fury doesn't look like anything special nor is he aesthetically pleasing to watch.
What makes Fury a stylistic conundrum are his height, reach, boxing aptitude and overall quickness along with his mindset topped off with his unconventional movement, especially for a guy standing 6-9.
His extreme height and reach make him difficult to reach and get at, he's hard to pin down because he's fast and fluid, and then there's his mindset. Fury isn't interested in knockouts or administering brutal beatings, he's like Muhammad Ali in that he'd rather embarrass you and make you look bad. If the knockout happens, great, but that's never his intent. And fighters who don't look for the kill and avoid most firefights – they're the toughest ones to force into big exchanges.
If you matched Fury prime for prime against some of the most legendary champions, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, Tyson wouldn't be embarrassed in a more than likely losing effort.
Here's a quick look and overview without being too long winded in what's a capsule summation.
Fury would trouble Louis with his reach and lateral movement, but he'd never hurt Louis enough to alter the fight. Louis would apply subtle pressure and bide his time, eventually he'd get inside and mutilate Fury in dribs and drabs once there, leaving him defenseless and a sitting duck for Louis to finish. Fury being a huge target actually works to Louis's advantage. Louis wouldn't look great for a majority of the fight, but the ending would've been a sensational stoppage win in favor of Louis.
Fury versus Ali would be dreadful to watch. Neither one are terrific when they're forced to fight as the attacker, and in this one, due to his size, Ali would force Fury to follow and attack. And in doing so, Ali would get off with quick counters and combinations. He'd never dazzle Fury, but he'd look like the ring general during their slap-fest. It would resemble Ali vs Jimmy Young, only Ali would be in the role of Young countering the uncomfortable attacker fighting a style that's unnatural to him. And Fury is one guy Ali would be effective fighting on the inside in spurts before Fury wrapped him up and clinched. Ali wins unanimous decision but doesn't look like the GOAT in the process. The best part of an Ali-Fury match-up would be the things they'd say to each other in the build up to the fight and in the ring.
Fury versus Foreman circa 1973-74 would be interesting while it lasted. Foreman was great at cutting the ring off and Fury would prove to be too big to hide or maneuver away. Thus Foreman would force him to the ropes and although Fury would attempt to hold and tie Foreman up, George would whack him to the body and take the fight out of him. The strain of trying to hold and box Foreman would be too much for Fury, along with that Fury doesn't have a great chin. Unlike Deontay Wilder, every punch Foreman sends is debilitating regardless of where it lands. Foreman would stop Fury because he's too powerful and consistent with his aggression for Fury to survive boxing. And he's too big to hide and avoid being clipped by Foreman.
Yes….Louis, Ali and Foreman would all beat Fury. Tyson isn't close to an all-time great, but he may be one of the best heavyweight pure boxers since Larry Holmes, aside from Chris Byrd, who really wasn't a heavyweight.
Regardless of how good or one day maybe great Fury is seen as being, because he may still be improving, due to his size and ability to move and punch on the move – he's no easy out for any past great.