Dirty boxing: Fury uses his biggest weight to sap Wilder’s energy to win in heavyweight title fight

On Sunday, Deontay Wilder felt the weight of the world champion on his shoulders, and collapsed. The American better summarized his loss to Tyson Fury. “I did my best, but it wasn’t good enough tonight. I’m not sure what happened, ”he said after the knockout loss in the 11th round. “I knew he hadn’t reached 277 pounds to be a ballet dancer. He came to lean on me, tried to brutalize me and he succeeded.

In 2018 for the first meeting between the two undefeated heavyweights, Wilder and Fury hit 212 and 256 pounds respectively. After this exciting draw, Fury parted ways with Ben Davison – the trainer who orchestrated his return from the wilderness – and joined the Kronk boxing gym.

Kronk, which emerged from the basement of Detroit’s oldest recreation center, became a household name in the 1970s under the leadership of Emanuel Steward. Their roster of former champions includes Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Milton McCory, Gerald McClellan and Lennox Lewis, who praised Fury for joining Kronk in 2019.

“Anytime you see a Kronk fighter you can expect to see something special, Kronk fighters do things that no other fighter does and I know that for a fact,” said heavyweight legend Lewis.

But what are the Kronk fighters doing? They punish their opponents by leaning on them, making them carry weight and sapping their energy. Steward passed away in 2012, but his nephew Javan ‘SugarHill’ Steward carries on Kronk’s legacy. Javan wanted Fury to be heavier for the rematch. The Briton weighed 273 pounds last February.

Wilder also went from 212 to 231 for the second fight. But while no one could accuse the revamped Fury for being aesthetically pleasing and impeccably chiseled, much of Wilder’s weight gain was an increase in muscle mass. Punchers are born and not made, as the boxing saying goes. The added mass did not exponentially increase Wilder’s already devastating power. Instead, it degassed faster and Fury got to work with the lean and unhook, getting a save on lap 7.

Master plan work

For the bout of the trilogy, Fury and Wilder doubled down on their strategies, posting the heaviest career weights at 277 and 238 lbs respectively. It’s to Wilder’s credit that his heart and right hand kept him in the fight, nearly ending Fury. But it was the Briton who finished what he had started in the second fight.

Fury has always been an unconventional and clumsy tactician. But he seems to have learned a few golden heavyweight tricks from Emmanuel Steward. Like Lewis, he leaned over and used the smaller Wilder as a body rest, tiring him out, resting for a while and setting up combinations with a jab. And like Wladimir Klitschko, he clicked on the back foot, removing the sting from Wilder’s right hand.

The game plan inherently uses dirty boxing. Melee – keeping your arms over your opponent’s, putting your forehead on your shoulder and holding on firmly – often turned into head-clashes. Like Lewis, Fury frequently pressed Wilder’s neck and brought him back with close uppercuts. In the last fight he was penalized one point for tactics and on Sunday he was cautioned too. But Fury made Wilder feel his 277 pounds and took his legs off. And that’s the Kronk way.