In Politics of Showboating and Rope-A-Dope, Tyson Fury is No Muhammad Ali

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Oleksandr Usyk, now the undisputed world heavyweight champion, proved he is a finer technical boxer than ‘The Gypsy King’ Tyson Fury, for the moment, which will generate interest in the contractual rematch in 2024 or 2025 between the two combatants. Given the circumstances of the Saturday night, May 18, 2024 main event bout for the undisputed world heavyweight championship at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, certain facts emerge.

This reporter feels Tyson Fury’s showboating and clowning around cost him the scorecards of two of the three judges. There is a difference between ring generalship, showmanship and showboating. Fury clowned around, even putting his hands behind his back, and had no respect for either Oleksandr Usyk or the judges at ringside. The presumption by Fury was his size, his ability, or both, made him the presumptive winner without having to work for it. True, Fury has a reputation. However, Usyk’s unblemished undefeated record in two divisions, cruiserweight and heavyweight did not show any chinks in his defensive armor.

Fury continued to cite some of Usyk’s performances, misleading himself while not looking at his own performances under the microscope, and not considering Usyk’s progressive ring I.Q. It never occurred to Fury that a smaller opponent like Usyk could defeat him. Smaller heavyweights have not experienced a charmed life in their quest for the world title. Usyk, though, was already there. Usyk trained for nine months in isolation, and his trip to Riyadh with the Usyk camp was not a social call.

Fury’s showboating including numerous attempts at the rope-a-dope pioneered by Muhammad Ali, trying to lure Usyk into the trap. Usyk simply countered with pinpoint accuracy and would have none of it. That Usyk hit hard enough and accurate enough to drive Fury into the ropes in the ninth round with the intention of finishing Fur for good should be a wakeup call. Fury not going for broke in round 12 is a lesson learned, never underestimate you opponent.

Fury is not Muhammad Ali, and Usyk is not a fighter you play with in the ring. Perhaps Fury’s clowning and showboating is just his personality. Ustk proved being on the ropes against him in the later stages of a world heavyweight title bout is not a place an opponent would want to be. The warning signs were there, and Tyson Fury ignored them. Whether Fury can adjust his game plan for the rematch is pure conjecture. Like Zhilei Zhang versus Joe Joyce I and II, a rematch with Usyk might not go well for Fury and could conceivable end his career if he gets knocked out. Usyk might be better off with Joseph Parker, Agit Kabayel, Ricardo Torrez Jr., Moses Itauma, or the winner of Zhilei Zhang versus Deontay Wilder as future opponents.

From Max Baer to Muhammad Ali to Prince Naseem Hamed, boxing showmen in the ring have always been entertaining. Fury defeats Usyk in the entertainment sense. Usyk is a talented technical fighter in the Joe Louis in his heyday sense. Showboating inside and outside the ring sells tickets and is great publicity, but it is not good boxing. If Tyson Fury does not learn his lessons, he might repeat his mistakes. A fighter like Usyk is not only going to do the work, but will work even harder because he knows he will have to better to defeat a fighter such as Tyson Fury and did. Fury needs to take the rematch more seriously, if he does sign for a rematch. To this reporter, despite his popularity, Tyson Fury’s sort of showboating leaves him vulnerable to attack and counterattack against a world class foe, and fight the same game plan is certain to give Usyk an even better outcome the second time. Simply put, Tyson Fury in his prime is no Muhammad Ali. This is because Ali knew what he could get away with in the ring. Fury does not.