Muhammad Ali

How does Tyson Fury’s record compare to Muhammad Ali’s after 32 fights?

Tyson Fury is undeniably the most charismatic heavyweight since Muhammad Ali and is currently rated as the best heavyweight in the world.

Not only can Fury talk the talk, but he can also walk the walk. Once considered as a technical fighter who had the speed and agility of a middleweight, Fury now has a reputation as a heavy-hitting fighter under the tutelage of Kronk’s SugarHill Steward.

Fury is one of two undefeated heavyweight champions right now alongside Oleksandr Usyk. The only blemish on Fury’s record is a controversial draw to Deontay Wilder in 2018. He is 31-0-1 ahead of his next fight against Dillian Whyte.

Below, we look at the records of Ali and Fury after 32 professional bouts.

In 1960, known as Cassius Clay, the Kentucky fighter entered the professional scene having won light heavyweight gold at the Rome Olympics.

His first 19 fights went according to plan and he defeated two notable names during a three-year period including Archie Moore and Henry Cooper. Moore was way past his prime when he took to the ring against Clay in 1962 though, having fought 218 times. In today’s boxing world, that is unheard of.

Clay would prove too much for Moore, stopping the ex-light heavyweight champion via TKO in the fourth round.

Fighting at Wembley Stadium next, Clay branded Cooper a ‘bum’ and promised to stop him in ruthless style in London. Clay was made to eat his own words, however. The American got slammed into the ropes by Cooper and hit the deck in round four from a left hook by the Englishman.

Clay got saved by the bell before being assisted to his corner by Angelo Dundee – something considered illegal. The trainer then violated another rule by giving Clay, completely unaware of his surroundings, smelling salts after slapping his legs had no response from the heavyweight in-between the rounds. If Dundee had been caught, Cooper would have won the contest via disqualification. And Dundee didn’t stop there.

A tear on one of Ali’s gloves, noticed by Dundee, was the next issue the trainer complained about. After a quick glance into the torn glove, referee Tommy Little dismissed Dundee’s demand for a change of gloves and ordered the pair to commence in the fifth round.

While the request was rejected, it did give Clay an extra six seconds to compose himself and it did the job as he stopped Cooper in round five to earn a shot at heavyweight gold.

Becoming heavyweight champion

In February 1964, Clay challenged Sonny Liston for the WBA and WBC titles in Miami and despite his confidence, some considered him as an underdog to prevail. Those who did would be proved wrong as Clay forced Liston to retire after six rounds. In doing so, Clay became world champion at the age of 22.

A rematch followed but it was the same outcome, this time in quicker fashion with the contest ending in the opening round. The big talking point was the punch that knocked Liston out – the phantom punch. The debate about whether Liston got hit or took a dive in the fight remains.

Clay went on to defend the titles eight times in 21 months, including another victory over Cooper, Brian London and Zora Folley. 

Return to boxing

After refusing to enter the Vietnam War, Clay – who changed his name to Muhammad Ali – was stripped of his world titles and banned from having a boxing license for over three years in America.

Ali would return in 1970, after losing some of his prime years, won his two comeback fights but would taste the first defeat of his career against Joe Frazier in 1971. The Madison Square Garden event – Ali’s 32 contest – was labelled as ‘Fight of the Century’ and Smokin’ Joe outpointed Ali to retain the WBC and WBA heavyweight titles.

The pair went on to fight another two times, with Ali winning both of them including the historic ‘Thrilla in Manila’ battle in 1975.

Tyson Fury 31-0-1

Tyson Fury

Fury had to do it all the hard way.

Not selected for the Olympics – with David Price taking his place instead for Team GB while he was also unable to represent Ireland – Fury started his professional career in 2008 under the guidance of Mick Hennessy, who at the time also promoted Carl Froch.

After reaching 7-0, in 2009 Fury took on John McDermott who was expected to cause him no trouble at this stage of his career. Despite going in as an overwhelming favourite, Fury produced a sloppy performance and in many eyes, he lost the fight. But the scorecards said the opposite and awarded Fury the victory.

A score of 98-92 by Terry O’Connor was criticised and the British Boxing Board of Control ordered a rematch between the pair. After another two wins, Fury faced McDermott again in a 2010 rematch but this was far more convincing with Fury knocking him out in the ninth round to become English champion.

At 14-0, Fury’s next test saw him challenge Derek Chisora for the British and Commonwealth Games. Despite going in as an underdog, the Morecambe fighter dominated Chisora and outpointed him to win the famous Lonsdale belt.

Four routine wins moved Fury to 20-0 and the Gypsy King made his American debut next with former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham the opponent. Fury got decked in round two of the IBF heavyweight eliminator but rebounded, using all of his weight and size to tire Cunningham.

In round five, Fury was docked a point for a headbutt, and Cunningham complained throughout the fight about the use of the forearm by the Brit. Fury’s dirty tactics would work though as he put the fight to bed in round seven with a ruthless right hand to Cunningham’s head.

Dethroning Klitschko

Fury was set to face David Haye next but the former two-division world champion pulled out twice through injury and the fight never happened. It saw Fury lose his spot in the IBF rankings and he was forced to fight Chisora in a rematch. Fury once again dealt with Chisora, stopping him in round 10 and in doing so, he was installed by the WBO as mandatory challenger to Wladimir Klitschko.

In 2015, Fury collided with Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles. Regarded as having little to no chance of winning on foreign soil, Fury outboxed Klitschko throughout the fight to earn a unanimous decision win to become the new unified champion.

The scorecards read 115-112, 115-112 and 116-112 all in favour of Fury and the result also snapped Klitschko’s 11-year dominance in the heavyweight division.

Fury would not fight for another three years following his battle with mental health but when he did return, he had a new set of fans willing him to get back to the top. His comeback fight was a win over Sefer Seferi in 2018 followed by a win in Northern Ireland against Francesco Pianeta.

In the same year, Fury challenged Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight title in Los Angeles. Fury outboxed Wilder throughout the fight but had to climb off the canvas twice in rounds five and 12. The final round knockdown is an iconic moment that sees Fury rise off the floor and beat the 10-count after appearing to be unconscious. Remarkably, Fury ended the round stronger but the verdict on the scorecards was a split draw.

Wilder wins

After a couple of wins, Fury was back in the ring with Wilder under trainer SugarHill Steward and the rematch played out much differently. Fury changed his tactics and delivered a stunning KO in round seven to win the WBC title from Wilder in Las Vegas.

Initial talks with Anthony Joshua ended as Fury was forced to fight Wilder again in a trilogy bout in 2021.

Fury would taste the floor twice in round four but overcame the Bronze Bomber’s aggression, tiring him out before knocking him out in the penultimate round. Ring Magazine named it Fight of the Year for 2021.

Tyson Fury defeats Deontay Wilder in round 11

Fury is looking to extend his unbeaten record to 33 when he takes on Whyte later this month. A win would see him close in on a unification showdown between the winner of Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk.

The heavyweight division has not seen an undisputed champion crowned since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in 1999.

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