Where does Tyson Fury rank among the best heavyweight boxers of all time?

Gypsy King retained his WBC crown with a stunning KO of Deontay Wilder

Tyson Fury celebrates his victory over Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas
Tyson Fury celebrates his victory over Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas
(Image credit: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Tyson Fury declared himself the “greatest heavyweight of my era” after a stunning 11th-round knockout victory against Deontay Wilder.

The trilogy bout between the rivals, held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, was an “all-time classic” and a “heart-pounding contest of extreme physical and psychological intensity”, said The Guardian’s Bryan Armen Graham. British fighter Fury was knocked down twice in the fourth round, but he recovered to “consolidate his place at the summit of boxing”.

After retaining the World Boxing Council (WBC) crown against his American rival, the “Gypsy King” was asked where he ranks in the recent history of the heavyweight division. “I can only beat whoever’s in my era and I’ve done that all my life,” the 33-year-old said. “I can only be the best of my day and I’ve done that. I’m the greatest heavyweight of my era, without a doubt.”

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Following three sensational fights, last weekend’s bout was “worthy of any trilogy in the history of the sport”, Fury told reporters. ESPN’s Mark Kriegel agreed. “I was there for Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield - this was better,” he said. “Fury and Wilder will be remembered forever in tandem. They didn’t change the arc of each other’s careers; they changed each other’s lives. It was a blood feud. Even at the end.”

Al Bello/Getty Images

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury
(Image credit: WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury)

‘Top of the pile’

It’s hard to argue against Fury being the greatest heavyweight of his generation, said Matt Majendie in the London Evening Standard. But he “cannot quite yet put himself into the pantheon of the greatest heavyweights of all time”. For one, he has just one title defence to his name, compared to Wladimir Klitschko’s 18 straight successful defences and Joe Louis’s record of 25.

In the debate of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, there’s many names that can lay claim to that title. But for Fury himself, he would put his own name at No.1 of the distinguished list.

“There’s a long, long line of [great champions] and they go right back to John L Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Joe Frazier, the Klitschko brothers, even the guys from today like Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk and everybody else,” Fury said. “They’re all good champions, but without sounding too sharp and clever, I’d place myself right on top of the pile. I believe that I could beat anyone in history. Any man born, I believe I’ve got a really good chance of beating him.”

Fury has certainly established himself as the best of his era, said GiveMeSport’s Neelabhra Roy. “Right now, it’s hard to imagine anybody being able to defeat him.” However, Usyk, the other heavyweight champion who recently snatched the triple crown from Joshua, “may have something to say about that”.

With Joshua triggering a rematch clause with Usyk, potentially in March, it looks likely that Fury’s next contest will be against fellow Brit Dillian Whyte - should he beat Otto Wallin.

No denying his talents

What an “inexhaustible riddle” Fury is, said Riath Al-Samarrai in the Daily Mail. A “flabby giant who moves like a dancer”, he has been banned for doping, has forged a friendship with alleged Irish gang boss Daniel Kinahan, and has alienated many with his bigoted views. Yet whatever one’s feeling about him, there’s no denying his talents as a boxer. To claim the “6ft 9in fighter who has never lost” as one of the all-time great heavyweights is starting to look distinctly credible.

“It’s easy to throw around superlatives,” said Ron Lewis in The Times, but bear in mind that Fury’s legacy is, at the moment, built on victories over two opponents: Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko, whom he beat in Düsseldorf in 2015 to win the lineal heavyweight title. There are plenty of other worthy adversaries out there – not least Usyk. Before the Gypsy King can be considered even the “best of his era”, he’ll have to prove himself again in the ring.

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