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Tyson Fury is set to defend his WBC world heavyweight title against Dillian Whyte on Saturday, and while all logic points to smooth sailing for the champion, there may be more factors at play than meets the eye. .

Fury is arguably the best pound-for-pound talent in boxing, and at six-foot-nine with a wingspan of seven feet, he’s one of the toughest puzzlers in the sport.

The 33-year-old boasts a record 31 wins and a hugely controversial draw against Deontay Wilder, whom he avenged twice with back-to-back finishes from the heavy-handed American.

In a vacuum, ‘The Gypsy King’ by unanimous decision seems like the most likely outcome, as his physical gifts and boxing skills should see him rack up rounds on the judges’ scorecards as he separates the Whyte slower and smaller from the outside.

Whyte, at six-foot-four, is the shortest opponent Fury has faced since Sefer Seferi in June 2018.

But the fights don’t take place in a vacuum, and there are familiar stories clouding the reigning champion’s head that could mean the Fury we see on Saturday may not be the same animal that dominated Wilder. .

Fury’s Last Dance

First and foremost, Fury is adamant that this will be his last fight, and he will retire to the ring this weekend – win, lose or draw.

Fighter retirements should always be taken with a grain of salt, given that it has now become a common tactic among major attractions in order to generate massive interest in their eventual return.

However, Fury feels different. This week he was candid with the media about his desire to retire after his last fight with Wilder, but the prospect of returning home and fighting in front of 94,000 at Wembley convinced him to go around once moreover.

“It’s been a long drive, it’s quite emotional to be honest,” he said.

“All of that, the journey of starting as a little kid and wanting to be heavyweight champion and then finally hanging up the gloves.

“And I know nobody believes me, because they all think I’m after money or whatever – there’s only a certain number of people who know that money means nothing to me.”

Simply put, Fury is only fighting for the honor of going undefeated, and the biggest fights of his career – winning the world championship against Wladimir Klitschko and coming to America to face Wilder – are behind him.

Fury will always have his skills, size and experience when he steps into the ring against Whyte, but combat sports history is littered with examples of fighters who fought with one foot out, and that desire to continue to being tall and dominant is something that can fade.

‘Wonderful’ Marvin Hagler once said ‘it’s hard to get up to do roadwork at 5am when you’ve slept in silk pajamas’, and there’s no heavyweight living with a silkier pajamas than Fury right now.

Whyte, on the other hand, is heading into the fight of his life and his last real opportunity to propel himself into the realm of boxing royalty.

At 34, with two losses under his belt, the only way for someone of Whyte’s level to leap into the next stratosphere as a prizefighting main attraction is to win a marquee fight against someone. one who currently wears the crown.

Add to the fact that he is an Englishman, brought up in Brixton, living the dream of competing at Wembley in the biggest fight of his career, and from a motivational point of view it seems the advantage is clearly in the corner. by Whyte.

Fury the boxer or Fury the artist?

There was a lot of talk about Fury’s change of trainers at the end of 2019, where he started training under the tutelage of SugarHill Steward.

The stylistic changes were apparent, and in Fury’s own words: “I hit a lot harder, use a more aggressive style, and seek to get people out of there rather than out.”

He’s only fought twice with Steward in his corner, and both times were against Wilder – a boxer solely focused on getting a knockout, uninterested in stacking rounds with patient boxing.

Whyte approaches things very differently. He’s no headhunter – a trait that has earned him the nickname “The Body Snatcher” – and he’s more than happy to win by decision.

Given Fury’s incredible size and movement capabilities, a game plan focused on attacking the body – which moves much less than the head – is the most sustainable way to count punches.

Whyte has never been knocked out in 52 professional fights combined across boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts, so if Fury is looking to end his career on a high with a big hit, Whyte can steal three or four first rounds and the transform into a close decision.

High Hope Whyte

Not to get lost in Fury’s skill superiority is the fact that Whyte is, obviously, very talented in his own right.

His first loss came to Anthony Joshua in 2015, and it was the first time Whyte had faced an undefeated professional opponent with more than five fights.

Needless to say, he wasn’t ready, but was still able to take several rounds from the Olympic gold medalist before his eventual demise in the seventh round.

Since then, Whyte has successfully dealt with fellow world title contenders Dereck Chisora ​​(twice), Lucas Browne (by KO) and Joseph Parker, and after being derailed by Alexander Povetkin in August 2020, he responded in l knocking out in the rematch eight months later.

That knockout earned Whyte that shot at Fury, and in his long and winding road to his chance to take the throne, he proved his ability to react to adversity, win close fights and do damage at weight. elite heavyweights.

If Fury is truly over, Whyte could be the man charged with carrying the torch for British heavyweight boxing going forward, and a win could set up another English mega-fight – this time with Joshua.

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