Since the early millennium years, the World Heavyweight boxing scene has been dominated by the Ukrainian Klitschko bothers with Vitali claiming the WBC version of the title in 2004, and then relinquishing the belt on retiring from the sport after beating Manuel Charr in 2012. Wladimir has stayed active in the ring, and prior to his bout against Britain’s Tyson Fury at the weekend, he was IBF, WBA (Super), WBO and IBO World Champion having remained unbeaten since being the victim of five round knockout by Lamon Brewster in 2004. After winning his next 22 fights, his bout against Fury was expected to be another formality for the efficient if unspectacular heavyweight, yet the outcome of the contest raised the possibility of a new era beckoning in heavyweight boxing.
Fury entered the contest unbeaten in 24 fights and appeared to be growing in maturity inside the ring having abandoned his more reckless approach from previous years. The Manchester born fighter is also no stranger to pre-fight controversy with many of stunts and comments clearly designed to publicise his bouts and to galvanise a reaction from his opponent.
On Saturday evening in Dusseldorf, Fury displayed no nerves while hoping to expose a chink in the armour of Klitschko who rarely shows any real emotion and is usually extremely polite before engaging his opponent.
As the opening three were completed, there was little evidence to suggest that a classic fight was about to be staged with both boxers failing to produce any meaningful punches but with Fury arguably the more aggressive of the two heavyweights. He was connecting with his jab more frequently than was the case with the champion.
The fight continued in that mode for several more rounds with doubts arising about the fitness of Klitschko. The sparing use of his right hand was unusual given that the left jab and right offensive punch were his favoured weapons in the ring, but the tactics of Fury were perhaps designed to prevent the Ukrainian from utilising his preferred approach.
With the contest entering its final rounds, Klitschko appeared to sense that more adventure was needed and the right hand became more evident but lacking any real conviction. Fury was able to withstand the late onslaught from the champions and claimed a unanimous historic points victory with the three judges scoring the bout 115-112, 115-112, 116-111.
Fury had defied the odds by becoming champion but he has clearly devoted many hours to watching Klitschko on DVD with the aim of nullifying the aggressive work of the Ukrainian while seeking to exploit his reach advantage by jabbing more effectively.
It may be not quite the end of the Klitschko era in heavyweight boxing with a rematch forecasted next year, but Tyson Fury proved on Saturday evening that he is a clever tactician and may now have stirred greater interest in a heavyweight division which had become rather benign in recent years.