Boxing Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Tyson Fury reasserts himself in top five with second win over Deontay Wilder

If you’re looking for a date that might have signified the official start of this renaissance in the heavyweight division of boxing, it was Nov. 28, 2015, when unbeaten Tyson Fury stepped into the ring in Dusseldorf, Germany, to disarm and outpoint former unified champion Wladimir Klitschko.  

We may not have known it then, but Fury’s upset victory was a passing of the torch from the former face of the division to the new one, even if Fury’s initial reign was ultimately a short one as he vacated all three titles within the next year without defending them.  

Six years, and many dramatic turns later (including Fury’s miraculous return from a destructive three-year layoff), the self-proclaimed “Gypsy King” remains in the pole position of this exciting era for boxing’s glamour division. His thrilling 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in their trilogy bout on Saturday, which served surprisingly as the first title defense of Fury’s career, only further solidified who is the division’s best fighter.  

Fury’s work, of course, is far from done. The WBC and lineal champion still hopes to become the division’s first undisputed king of the four-belt era. That can’t happen until unified champion Oleksandr Usyk defends his newly acquired WBA, WBO and IBF titles in early 2022 against Anthony Joshua in a contractually obligated rematch.  

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But there’s no question that what Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) has accomplished throughout his unbeaten career is quickly becoming historically significant. The 33-year-old from Great Britain is a unicorn from the standpoint of the speed and quickness that his 6-foot-9 frame is able to produce. Yet it’s the manner in which he switched gears to finish Wilder in both their second and third meetings that continues to build upon his growing legend.  

Fury relied on his slickness to survive a pair of knockdowns against Wilder in their first meeting in 2018, which went down as a disputed split draw. But he sought out new trainer SugarHill Steward, the nephew of the late Hall of Famer Emmanuel Steward, to teach him the Kronk Gym style of using his size and aggression to seek knockouts.  

The 2020 rematch between Wilder and Fury was a one-sided demolition. Their third meeting was anything but. Fueled by revenge, Wilder proved willing to leave it all in the ring and forced Fury to rely on his backbone and recuperative abilities to rise up from the canvas twice more against the sport’s biggest puncher only to score three knockdowns of his own en route to a vicious KO win.  

Not only are Fury’s skills and technique worthy of pound-for-pound recognition among his peers in the game, his heart and will deserve even more praise. Regardless of who comes out of the Usyk-Joshua rematch or whether Fury is forced to defend his WBC title first against mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte, he is making it increasingly hard to bet against him in any proposed matchup among active heavyweights.

Pound-for-Pound Rankings

Honorable mention: Juan Francisco Estrada, Artur Beterbiev, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Yordenis Ugas, Shakur Stevenson, Roman Gonzalez 

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