Not only can Fury talk, he can also walk. Once considered a technical fighter who had the speed and agility of a middleweight, Fury now has a reputation as a powerful fighter under the tutelage of Kronk’s SugarHill Steward.
Fury is currently one of two undefeated heavyweight champions alongside Oleksandr Usyk. The only blemish on Fury’s record is a controversial draw against Deontay Wilder in 2018. He is 31-0-1 going into his next fight against Dillian Whyte.
Below, we take a look at Ali and Fury’s records after 32 professional fights.
Muhammad Ali 31-1
In 1960, known as Cassius Clay, the Kentucky fighter entered the professional scene after winning light heavyweight gold at the Rome Olympics.
His first 19 fights went according to plan and he defeated two notable names over a span of three years, including Archie Moore and Henry Cooper. Moore was well past his prime when he stepped into the ring against Clay in 1962, having fought 218 times. In today’s boxing world, this is unheard of.
Clay would prove too much for Moore, stopping the former light heavyweight champion via TKO in the fourth round.
Next fighting at Wembley Stadium, Clay called Cooper a “tramp” and promised to arrest him ruthlessly in London. However, Clay was forced to eat his own words. The American was thrown into the ropes by Cooper and hit the deck in the fourth round from a left hook by the Englishman.
Clay was saved by the bell before being assisted in his corner by Angelo Dundee – something considered illegal. The trainer then broke another rule by giving Clay, completely oblivious to his surroundings, smelling salts after slapping his legs, had no response from the heavyweight between rounds. Had Dundee been caught, Cooper would have won the contest by disqualification. And Dundee didn’t stop there.
A tear in one of Ali’s gloves, noticed by Dundee, was the next issue the coach complained about. After a quick peek into the torn glove, referee Tommy Little denied Dundee’s request for a glove change and ordered the pair to start in the fifth round.
Although the request was denied, it gave Clay an extra six seconds to pull himself together and it did the job as he stopped Cooper in the fifth round to earn a shot at heavyweight gold.
Become heavyweight champion
In February 1964 Clay challenged Sonny Liston for the WBA and WBC titles in Miami and despite his confidence some considered him an underdog to win. Those who did would have been wrong as Clay forced Liston out after six rounds. In doing so, Clay became world champion at the age of 22.
A rematch followed but it was the same result, this time in a quicker fashion with the contest ending in the first round. The big talking point was the punch that knocked Liston out – the phantom punch. Debate over whether Liston got hit or dived 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.
Back 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 more than three years in America.
Ali would return in 1970, having lost some of his best years, win his two comeback fights but taste the first loss of his career to Joe Frazier in 1971. The Madison Square Garden event – Ali’s 32 contest – was tagged as ‘Fight of the Century’ and Smokin’ Joe edged out Ali to retain the WBC and WBA heavyweight titles.
The duo went on to fight twice more, with Ali winning them both, including the historic “Thrilla in Manila” battle in 1975.
Tyson Fury 31-0-1
Fury had to do it all the hard way.
Unselected for the Olympics – with David Price taking his place instead for Team GB when he was also unable to represent Ireland – Fury began his professional career in 2008 under Mick Hennessy, who at the time had also promoted Carl Froch.
After going 7-0, in 2009 Fury took on John McDermott who was unlikely to cause him any problems at this stage of his career. Despite becoming an overwhelming favorite, Fury produced a sloppy performance and in many ways lost the fight. But the scorecards said otherwise and awarded the victory to Fury.
A 98-92 score by Terry O’Connor was criticized and the British Boxing Board of Control ordered a rematch between the two. After two more wins, Fury faced McDermott again in a rematch in 2010, but it was much more convincing with Fury knocking him out in the ninth round to become champions of England.
At 14-0, Fury’s next test saw him challenge Derek Chisora for the British and Commonwealth Games. Despite becoming an underdog, the fighter from Morecambe dominated Chisora and edged him to win the famous Lonsdale belt.
Four routine wins took Fury to 20-0 and the Gypsy King then made his American debut with former heavyweight champion Steve Cunningham as his opponent. Fury was parried in the second round of the IBF heavyweight eliminator but bounced back, using all of his weight and size to wear Cunningham down.
In round five, Fury was docked from a point for a headbutt, and Cunningham complained throughout the fight about the Briton’s use of the forearm. Fury’s dirty tactics would work though as he ended the fight in the seventh round with a ruthless right hand to Cunningham’s head.
Fury was next scheduled to face David Haye, but the former two-division world champion pulled out twice with injury and the fight never happened. This saw Fury lose his place in the IBF rankings and he was forced to fight Chisora in a rematch. Fury dealt with Chisora again, stopping him in round 10 and in doing so he was installed by the WBO as a mandatory challenger to Wladimir Klitschko.
In 2015, Fury collided with Klitschko in Düsseldorf, Germany for the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles. Considered to have little to no chance of winning on foreign soil, Fury took out Klitschko throughout the fight to earn a unanimous decision to become the new unified champion.
The scorecards read 115-112, 115-112 and 116-112, all in Fury’s favor and the result also shattered Klitschko’s 11-year dominance in the heavyweight division.
Fury wouldn’t fight for another three years after his battle with sanity, but when he returned he had a new group of fans who wanted him back on top. His comeback bout was a win over Sefer Seferi in 2018 followed by a win in Northern Ireland over Francesco Pianeta.
The same year, Fury challenged Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight title in Los Angeles. Fury took Wilder out throughout the fight but had to step off the canvas twice in the fifth and twelfth rounds. The final round knockdown is an iconic moment that sees Fury get off the ground and beat the count to 10 after appearing unconscious. Remarkably, Fury finished the round stronger, but the verdict on the scorecards was a draw.
After a few wins, Fury was back in the ring with Wilder under trainer SugarHill Steward and the rematch turned out very differently. Fury changed tack and delivered a stunning seventh-round knockout 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 ground twice in round four but overcame the Bronze Bomber’s aggression, wearing him down before knocking him out in the penultimate round. Ring Magazine named him Fight of the Year 2021.
Fury is looking to extend his unbeaten record to 33 when he takes on Whyte later this month. A win would see him move closer to a unification showdown between the Joshua winner and Oleksandr Usyk.
The heavyweight division hasn’t seen an undisputed champion crowned since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in 1999.
Read more: How does Anthony Joshua’s record compare to Lewis, Tyson and Holyfield?