The psyched-up, fired-up Fury that we know and love? The unbridled confidence and optimism needs to return – not just for the fan’s sake, but for the fighter, himself – but it seems like it has been replaced with a cynical pessimism. 

It’s difficult not to admire Wladimir Klitschko in spite of the persistent allegations of steroid abuse and his sometimes controversial, control-freak antics. A PHD-holder who is also conversant in four languages, Dr. Steelhammer has dominated the heavyweight division for roughly a decade prior to the sensational upset last November. 

His conqueror’s uncle and trainer, the astute Peter Fury, made some interesting points about Wladimir. Long derided by some other heavyweight fighters for his supposedly below-par opposition, Fury in a recent interview claimed that other talented contenders were avoiding Wladimir for all these years, as opposed to the other way round. No trainer wanted to offer up their prospect as a sacrificial lamb. The sudden emergence of all these promising challengers almost immediately after Wladimir’s defeat to Fury is testament to this point. 

Since his triumvirate of concussive knockout defeats early on in his professional career, Wladimir Klitschko has adopted a primarily defensive-minded strategy and remains extremely averse to becoming embroiled in exchanges with his in-ring counterpart. He seldom endeavours to throw a punch unless he is absolutely sure that he can connect safely whilst remaining out of range. However, this approach has its shortcomings, the likes of which were plainly exhibited by Tyson Fury on November 28th, last year. The Mancunian’s superior physical dimensions allowed him to effectively control the range with his considerable reach. Coupled with the fact that he is more adept on the inside (and presumably physically stronger) than his Ukrainian adversary, Klitschko was forced to languish awkwardly in mid-range whilst being picked off by a trigger-happy and (as the fight progressed) increasingly evasive opponent. 

Therefore, I think it’s fair to say that for Wladimir to emerge victorious from his highly-anticipated rematch with the loquacious and indubitably talented Wythenshawe native, he has to completely change his style. We have to see a Wladimir that we have never seen before, or at least in a long while (several years). For example, a Wladimir that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty by trading blows with his opposite-number. Or perhaps, a Wladimir that is committed to piling on the pressure and throwing punches in bunches. Indeed, Wladimir has substituted his usually unflappable and ultra-professional demeanour for uncharacteristically truculent rhetoric in the press-conferences. This, in addition to his ominous promises to render his opponent unconscious, has led many to suggest that we can expect an enthralling slugfest, come fight night. That his pugnacious behaviour and apparen disdain towards Fury are indicative of his dogged determination to produce a spectacular knockout (in a supremely violent fashion) on July 9th. However, at the same time, many have also speculated that such a strategy (enthusiastically courting an open dogfight) is something that will play right into Fury’s hands. Time will tell. Hopefully, it will be an explosive and exciting encounter (that is, entertaining inside the ring as well as outside of it), and not the type of hug-fest that we have become so accustomed to seeing in recent years of heavyweight championship action, invariably featuring the methodical Dr. Steelhammer.

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Meanwhile, Fury proclaims that he is tired and bored of being the unified heavyweight champion of the world, which is somewhat understandable given his notoriety and the relentless politically-correct onslaught against him. He also conceded, rather astonishingly, that he actually hopes to lose the rematch so that he can retire and enjoy his money. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to take anything he says seriously, quite frankly, as he constantly contradicts himself. But the seemingly disillusioned tones of the champion are definitely a cause for consternation (for Fury fans, anyway), especially because he doesn’t appear to be particularly motivated for this fight and appears to be significantly overweight with less than two months to go. Yes, he was accompanied by cheerleaders to the first presser and took his shirt off, but where have the brash predictions and promises gone? The psyched-up, fired-up Fury that we know and love? The unbridled confidence and optimism needs to return – not just for the fan’s sake, but for the fighter, himself – but it seems like it has been replaced with a cynical pessimism. 

We can only hope that his attitude dramatically changes as the fight approaches. Whether Fury is able to generate sufficient power in his punching to seriously hurt Wladimir remains to be seen – we know that Klitschko’s chin is particularly vulnerable and this is the rationale behind his defensively-orientated style. Nevertheless, we also know that if Klitschko capitalises on just one opportunity to land clean, the consequences could very well be disastrous for Fury. 

Will Fury end up being too awkward for his own good? Will Wladimir opt for aggressive volume-punching and thunderous shots to the body? Ultimately, again, time will tell. Whether it is a cagey affair or whether it ends up becoming no-holds-barred in Manchester, my personal opinion is that all things considered, Fury definitely has the capability to replicate his comprehensive points victory in Dusseldorf with another clear unanimous-decision win or perhaps, a late stoppage once Wlad becomes more desperate. Any lapses, however, and Wlad wins by knockout. 

We’ll see what happens. It should be an intriguing contest.

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