This Saturday reigning WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) returns to the ring against WBC interim heavyweight champion and mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) in London’s historic Wembley Stadium. Some 85,000 of the 90,000 available tickets for the fight sold within the first three hours of sales. In a surprising turn, Fury has announced that Saturday’s bout will be his last.

The famed “Gypsy King” is fresh off his conquest of Deontay Wilder and believes he has nothing left to prove in the ring. Said Fury, “I’m walking away. I have nothing to prove to nobody. I’ve done what I had to do. That’s it. Win, lose, or draw on Saturday night, we put up a good fight and we go home…I just want to be left alone, switch off the Instagram, switch off the lot and walk away from that famous lifestyle. I can’t stand it and that’s the gospel truth.”

 

Rejuvenating the Heavyweight Division

For years the heavyweight division languished in obscurity as Wladimir Klitschko plodded through opponent after opponent during his nearly 10-year reign as heavyweight champion. Strong, handsome, and powerfully built, the Ukrainian Klitschko was nevertheless unable to capture the western world’s attention. Though his power could be devastating, his style was slow and deliberate, and his interview style left much to be desired.

 

 

All that changed on a cold night in Dusseldorf, Germany in 2015. That night Klitschko was stunned by young challenger Tyson Fury in a unanimous-decision upset that shook the boxing world. Declaring the decorated long-time champion had simply, “reigned supreme over a load of bums,” Fury mocked, challenged, and conquered a man few had thought beatable. The Gypsy King relieved Klitschko of his WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO, and The Ring heavyweight titles. Ever since, heavyweight boxing has been an entertaining mix of wild predictions, rousing theater, and terrific boxing as Fury has scaled the heights of boxing’s most popular division.

 

And yet after that seminal victory, and quite unpredictably and sadly, Fury descended into depression, alcoholism, and drug use. He fell out of shape, gained over 75 pounds, and relinquished all his titles through inactivity. But by 2020, he had recovered his mental health, shed the weight, worked himself back into shape, and won a couple of comeback bouts before earning himself a fight with WBC titleholder and knockout artist Deontay Wilder.

 

The Wilder Trilogy

The first fight with Wilder was a classic, the best heavyweight title bout in years. A controversial 12-round draw, Fury dominated many of the rounds with superior boxing and movement. But Wilder had floored the Brit twice in the later rounds, including a devastating knockdown in the 12th that Wilder—and nearly every spectator—assumed was the end of the fight. But Fury beat the count, barely, and finished the fight on the offensive, driving forward against a stunned and hesitant Wilder.

 

After a couple of tune-up fights in Las Vegas, Fury and Wilder staged their much-anticipated rematch with Fury winning with a shocking 7th round technical knockout almost no one expected. Following that dominant performance, Fury concluded his Wilder trilogy by flooring the former champ for good in the 11th round of the third fight, despite having himself gone down twice in earlier rounds. The trilogy was instantly considered one of the most entertaining in heavyweight history.

 

With former WBO champion Anthony Joshua having suffered two bad defeats and effectively diminishing fan interest in a showdown with Fury, the Gypsy King has turned to fifth-ranked heavyweight Whyte. Should he defeat Whyte, Fury had hoped to meet Joshua for their long-awaited showdown. But recently Fury indicated he may retire following the Whyte fight.

 

 

Fight Week Face Offs, No Shows, and Predictions

For his part, Whyte strangely skipped the first fight press conference in March and the media workout earlier this week, the first event of fight week where the boxers are traditionally available to the media. Offering no explanation for his absence, Whyte did grace the media with his presence Wednesday at the final press conference, during which the taller Fury tickled Whyte during their face off before both camps began bickering, shouting, and shoving.

Theatrics of the presser aside—a regular occurrence when Tyson Fury is involved—Whyte brings formidable power and an accomplished resume to the bout. He has won 12 of his last 13 fights and owns wins over tough heavyweights Alexander Povetkin, Derek Chisora, and Joseph Parker. Never one to underestimate an opponent, Fury said fans are underestimating how good a matchup this fight is. “This is a heavyweight boxing fight, anyone can win with one punch,” remarked the Gypsy King. “If I’m not on my A-game, he’s going to knock my head off my shoulders.”

Even if the reigning champ was simply promoting the fight, Fury has a propensity for hitting the canvas, which he did four times in his three fights with Wilder, and twice in previous bouts. But he has always gotten off the canvas and fought back, usually with devastating results. He’s in with another heavy puncher on Saturday. It ought to be compelling viewing. Fury’s most recent fight, an 11th round dismantling of Wilder last fall, won ESPN’s Fight of the Year.

 

Don’t miss out on what might be the last chance to see Tyson Fury in a boxing ring, this Saturday at 2pm EST on ESPN+ PPV, available to ESPN+ subscribers and DIRECTV STREAM subscribers with the DIRECTV STREAM Device.

 

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