After Mike Tyson became a controversial figure and his boxing career ended, the sport’s heavyweight division saw a sharp downturn in popularity without another big-name fighter to take his place atop the division. The smaller weight classes began to dominate the high-profile cards, with fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. taking over as boxing’s biggest pay-per-view draws.
But the heavyweight class appears to be making a comeback in the last couple of years, and it is largely due to the emergence of Tyson Fury, who shares an interesting connection with Mike Tyson.
Tyson Fury’s professional career
Fury, a native of England, made his professional debut in 2008 and has amassed a record of 30-0-1 in the years since, with 21 of his wins coming by knockout.
He would rise through the ranks of the sports until his breakout fight in 2015, when he faced heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, who had held the title for nearly a decade. Fury pulled off the upset and won by unanimous decision.
He decided to vacate the belts in October 2016 after failing tests for cocaine and dealing with mental health issues. He began his comeback in early 2018, and that December faced undefeated WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder, with the match ending in a split decision draw.
They had a rematch in February, in which Fury defeated the champ via seventh-round TKO. A third match is likely on the horizon.
Similarities and differences between Fury and Mike Tyson
Fury’s career has some similarities to Tyson, who went 50-6 with 44 knockouts and two no-contests as a pro. Both men dealt with controversies and issues that caused them to lose their boxing licenses and have to take some time away from the sport.
Tyson’s issues famously happened in the prime of his career and culminated in him biting the ear of Evander Holyfield during a match they had.
Tyson is on record as saying that he is surprised at how well Fury boxes because “he’s tall” and there’s an “awkwardness” to his fighting style. He has said that Fury “is so much better than what he appears to be and looks like.”
Tyson — who, at 5’10” is nearly a foot shorter than Fury — would dip low and shift from left to right to attack his opponents from the side, rather than up the middle. Fury, on the other hand, is “a very technical, really sophisticated boxer,” according to UFC commentator and combat sports enthusiast Joe Rogan.
The connection between the two
If you’re wondering if it’s a coincidence Fury shares a first name with Tyson’s surname, it’s not. Fury was on Tyson’s podcast last year and talked about how his father — a professional heavyweight boxer in the late ’80s and early ’90s — was obsessed with Tyson.
He recalled that as a premature baby who barely weighed more than a baseball, his dad wanted to give him the strongest name he could. “I’m named after Mike, yes,” Fury said on the podcast. He recalls not being expected to live, so when he beat the odds and survived his “dad said ‘I’m going to call you after my favorite heavyweight, Tyson.”
The doctors didn’t think that would be a good name because Fury wasn’t expected to turn into a big guy. But over 31 years later, Fury stands 6’9″ and weighs 254 pounds. And he sits atop the heavyweight division after helping to bring it back to prominence after a lull of nearly two decades after guys like Tyson and Holyfield ended their boxing careers.