Since Lennox Lewis retired a unified champion with victory over Vitali Klitschko back in 2003, Britain has patiently waited for a new heavyweight hope.
Plenty of false dawns
The closest to come to hero status was David Haye, who briefly reigned as the WBA heavyweight champion before receiving a beat down from the iron fists of Wladimir Klitschko. Recent indications have shown he may come out of retirement before the year is out, but many believe he will not live up to former glories.
Gold medal Olympian Audley Harrison was nicknamed ‘Fraduley’ after failing to impress in his professional outings, while Liverpool’s David Price is still recovering his career after two devastating knockout defeats to fringe contender Tony Thompson.
Seven-fight novice Anthony Joshua finds the hopes of a nation pinned on his shoulders, but Tyson Fury could represent the next realistic hope of a British heavyweight champion.
Fresh test on Saturday night
A frustrating last ten months culminated in yet another pull out this week, with Dereck Chisora fracturing his hand in sparring and pulling out of their European title and WBA world title eliminator bout this weekend. Two prospective fights against Haye fell through last year, making it three career-defining showdowns cancelled within a year; rough luck by anyone’s imagination.
In an ironic twist of fate Fury will now face Belarussian giant Alexander Ustinov, the sparring partner who Chisora broke his hand punching.
Ustinov has one defeat from 30 outings, coming against world level contender Kubrat Pulev two years ago, but has barely fought anyone of note. It prompted Fury’s trainer and uncle, Peter, to brand the 37-year-old’s record “full of nobodies” ahead of the fight.
Personality is there – are the skills?
Fury will need to win with some conviction against Ustinov, hoping to tempt unified champion Wladimir Klitschko into a megabucks showdown should he come through his next fight against Pulev. Whether the Manchester man has the skills to defeat top-level opposition remain to be seen, though he ticks all boxes when it comes to personality.
Outrageous, controversial and comedic in equal amounts; Fury’s much-publicised Twitter rants can be both cringeworthy yet brutally effective. Some have landed him in trouble with the British boxing authorities, while some have landed him big fights and big paydays.
Everyone knows who the 25-year-old is and his attempt at a crossover appeal took him to the States, producing an in-ring solo singing performance after defeating Steve Cunningham.
Twenty two contests without defeat shows potential and he can barely shoulder any blame for the big fights falling through. However, defensive deficiencies have reared an ugly head and unheralded American Joey Abell was able to exploit them in his last fight. Abell’s record was a mere 29-7 at the time, so being rocked by someone of his calibre may worry the Fury camp.
Time will tell how good Tyson Fury can really be. Next British heavyweight champion? His personality guarantees pay cheques and big crowds, it’s up to him to show the world he can step up against better opposition.