By Frank Lotierzo
Over the course of the last month heavyweight champ Tyson Fury 25-0 (18) has threatened to shove a pen up a reporter's nose, claimed to be the best boxer Britain ever produced, said he could dominate MMA if he crossed over and last week tweeted that he may not fight Wladimir Klitschko 64-4 (53) again, and perhaps another big fight is in the making? Well, the pen never made it up the writer's nose, he's probably not even the best active fighter out of Britain today, he hasn't gone into MMA, and there's been no big announcement regarding him taking on another fighter other than Klitschko in his next bout.
However, his remarks made for great copy, kept his name relevant and he's becoming more well-known abroad. Tyson has shown through his words, deeds, tweets, social media and storming the ring challenging WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder 36-0 (35) after Wilder’s last bout - that he knows just how important it is to not allow the public to forget about you. Especially when your fights aren't all that exciting and there remain questions over just how good you really are pertaining to whether you beat Klitschko because he had an off night at 39 years old, or your size, style and temperament led to his undoing. Then again, Fury fights very loose and relaxed in the ring and that played a role as to why he pulled away from Klitschko down the stretch of their first bout.
Fury is a shrewd guy who likes to lull people into thinking he's not. He fully grasps that the heavyweight division is starting to wake up again in a manner that hasn't been seen since the Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis era. Fury is smack in the middle of the resurgence and if he defeats Klitschko later this year, like him or not, he's the true champ and the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division. And since Fury doesn't have a fan friendly style, he needs to say and do outlandish things to keep the interest in him.
Like Floyd Mayweather did circa 2007-2015, Fury loves to tweak and tantalize boxing fans. He doesn't care if he's popular or not; as long as you make it a priority to see his next bout, all is good with him. And since no one really tunes in to see him fight because he's such a terrific boxer or a great puncher, he must goad spectators with his words and antics.
Nobody was better than Mayweather when it came to rallying both fans and detractors. Floyd constantly tweeted his thoughts or posted pictures of himself on Instagram counting bricks of hundred dollar bills or strolling into a Rolls Royce dealership to buy three cars. His fans relished his actions and thought they justified his greatness as a fighter. On the other hand, it made his skeptics and critics long to see him lose in a humiliating fashion. And because of that he became the biggest star and draw in professional boxing for eight consecutive years.
Tyson Fury, 27, is in the infancy of his title reign. If he defeats Wladimir Klitschko in their rematch, he will have the bragging rights over any other active heavyweight. But that won't insure an escalation of interest in his future bouts. Fury doesn't do a single thing in the ring above average. His assets are size and awkwardness, weapons that cannot be discounted. It's doubtful that anyone will ever anticipate watching him fight or box because they believe they'll see something exciting or special. Fury's draw depends upon his ability to move fans to want to see him because they don't like him and hope to see him lose, or they're anxious to see whatever antics he'll resort to.
Since beating Klitschko by decision last November to gain near-universal recognition as the heavyweight champion, Tyson has purposely said things that he has no intention of following through on. His actions and words served one purpose, and that was to keep his name in front of the public and stimulate fans to think about what he'll say or do next. Even though they were universes apart in terms of skill, Fury shares with Mayweather the trait of being a boring performer inside the ring.
Fury studied Floyd Mayweather's outside the ring behavior, beautifully grasping that his ability to entertain and stimulate interest and debate is every bit as important as his ability to fight. Sizzle, it's all about the sizzle. Yes, sizzle will always trump, pardon the pun, substance. In today's world it's really not about what is said, it's more about how it is said. That's what captures attention. As long as Tyson Fury can do that and somehow hold onto the title, he could be the straw that stirs the drink in the heavyweight division for the next few years. Today, being good isn't enough. One must have a personality, manufactured or not, in order for the media and fans to care about them....and that explains why Fury has created so much controversy around him.
If he beats Wladimir again, he'll be that much more unbearable regarding his personality and disposition. And the more crazy things he says and does, the more must-see he'll become, at least until he loses.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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