Is Tyson Fury the Next Great Heavyweight?

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2013

UK heavyweight Tyson Fury, pictured here against Dereck Chisora, is undefeated and moving up the ranks.
UK heavyweight Tyson Fury, pictured here against Dereck Chisora, is undefeated and moving up the ranks.Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Chances are the first time you heard about UK heavyweight Tyson Fury four years ago, you had two reactions. First, you were like, “Wow, that dude just punched himself in the face.” Second (and only after enjoying more fun at the fighter's expense), you thought to yourself, “Man, that’s a cool name.”

And then you probably went back to watching him punch himself in the face again.

Still, he's come a long way since the punch-seen-round-the-world, and your attitude about him probably should too. At age 24, the still undefeated Tyson Fury (20-0,14 KOs) is on the precipice of big things. Huge.

Fury will take on former cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs) this Saturday in what will be his first appearance on American soil. The Saturday afternoon clash will be nationally televised on NBC at 4 p.m. CST and take place at the historic Madison Square Garden.

Quite the stage, but is Tyson Fury the real deal? Can he be the next great heavyweight in boxing?

Fury thinks so. In fact, he believes he's only months away from a world-title shot (via ESPN UK). The plan is for Fury to beat Cunningham on Saturday, then sign to fight the winner of April 27th’s WBC title fight between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne. More importantly, though, Team Fury is plotting to pit their guy against the best in the business, the No. 1 man at the weight and multiple alphabet belt champion, Wladimir Klitschko.

So it’s pretty clear those guys have high hopes, but should you? Should we really get our hopes up for this guy? Maybe so.

After all, there's a ton to like about Tyson Fury as a fighter.

First, you simply can’t teach size. The 6’8” 260-pounder is big enough to look down to almost any other fighter in the world. He’s got a long reach and lots of power.

Second, Fury fights with real passion. Where some giant-sized heavyweights try to jab their opponents to death (ahem, Wladimir Klitschko), Tyson Fury is almost too willing to stand in the pocket and trade with his opponents. It’s made the affable lug a compelling watch.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Fury has already proven his quality against top opposition, and he shows no sign of stopping. In an age when fighters are carefully managed by managers and promoters as slowly up the ranks as humanly possible, Fury has managed to defeat several notable contenders before reaching his 25th birthday.

It’s made Fury a must-watch, and while no one can tell for certain whether he’ll be the next great heavyweight, many believe he really could be the man to revive boxing’s glamour division. In fact, wins over domestic rivals John McDermott and Martin Rogan, as well as world title challengers Kevin Johnson and Dereck Chisora, have already convinced pundits across the pond he’s the future of the sport.

Heck, even Tyson Fury is starting to believe it.

So maybe there's something to it, and a win this Saturday over solid veteran Steve Cunningham on the grand stage of American national television would go a long way in convincing the rest of us.