Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) looked like a hollowed-out man Saturday night at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany. The 39-year-old's reign as boxing's undisputed heavyweight champion ended with a whimper, as British challenger Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) feinted and jabbed his way to a 12-round, unanimous-decision victory to earn the WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO world heavyweight titles.
HBO Boxing provided the cards, and CompuBox shared the final punch stats:
.@Tyson_Fury defeats @Klitschko 115-112, 115-112, 116-111 by unanimous decision to become the new heavyweight champion. #KlitschkoFury2015-11-28 23:13:38
Final stats: Fury 86 of 371 (23%) Klitschko 52 of 231 (23%)2015-11-28 23:11:34
Rappler.com's Ryan Songalia encapsulated Klitschko's performance perfectly:
Ryan Songalia @ryansongalia
It's as if Wladimir Klitschko woke up this morning and decided he didn't want to be heavyweight champion anymore #klitschkofury2015-11-28 22:57:09
ESPN Stats & Info noted Klitschko's reign as undisputed champ began and ended against British fighters:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Tyson Fury: first British heavyweight champion since David Haye, whom Wladimir Klitschko beat in 2011 for WBA title. #KlitschkoFury2015-11-28 23:13:11
Fury was in disbelief after the win, per HBO Boxing:
"I put everything in the gym for this and I just can't believe I've got it." - @Tyson_Fury #KlitschkoFury2015-11-28 23:27:18
The bout marked Klitschko's first loss since 2004. Fury remains undefeated in his career. The Irish Traveller will face questions about his worth as a heavyweight champ, as he didn't have to do much to earn his belts.
In the early rounds, Fury spent more time feinting than engaging Klitschko, though the champ didn't do much to press the issue against his rangier foe. Klitschko's jab hit nothing but air to start, and he found little opportunity to throw the right with Fury staying out of his range. These trends would remain throughout the fight.
HBO Boxing passed along the dismal stats from the first three rounds:
.@Tyson_Fury connects on 17 punches through three rounds. @Klitschko lands 11. #KlitschkoFury2015-11-28 22:32:06
A cut appeared under Klitschko's right eye in the fifth, courtesy of a clash of heads. Fury was winning the fight by the midway point, more so by default than any virtues he had displayed in the ring. Klitschko's famed jab was missing in action, allowing Fury to win rounds on pitiful punch numbers.
Boxing scribe Michael Woods wondered if Klitschko's age was finally showing:
Michael Woods @Woodsy1069
See openings, can't pull trigger. The aging gunfighter. The Klitschko?2015-11-28 22:42:28
ESPN.com's Dan Rafael summed up the first half of the fight:
Dan Rafael @danrafaelespn
Wlad simply not punching. Giving the title away right now. #KlitschkoFury #boxing2015-11-28 22:45:09
With Klitschko unwilling or unable to pull the trigger, Fury put both hands behind his back and taunted the champion in the seventh. Even then, Klitschko could hit him with only a weak tag. Fury landed the better-looking shots, even if they were sprinkled sparingly throughout the bout. HBO Boxing provided a look:
WATCH: Klitschko getting touched replay. #KlitschkoFury #TweetReplay https://t.co/b72IkhWe632015-11-28 22:50:30
The crowd finally saw action worthy of a reaction in the ninth. Klitschko tagged Fury with two solid right hands and looked as though he might have created an opening, only to see Fury come back later in the round and catch him with a massive left hook. Klitschko's inability to go to the body hurt him, per UCNLive.com's Steve Kim:
Back to Steve Kim @steveucnlive
Klitschko goes fights at a time without ever throwing a left hook downstairs, it's amazing #boxing2015-11-28 22:51:13
Ringside commentator Max Kellerman noted Klitschko would have to dig deep to win this bout, as relayed by HBO Boxing:
"If @Klitschko wants to stay champion he's got to fight like the crown is not on his head right now." - @Max_Kellerman #KlitschkoFury2015-11-28 22:58:40
Instead, Fury let his hands go in the final few rounds, while the Ukrainian boxer would get close only to shrivel up and refuse to fire his right hand. There was no attempt to go to the body, only clinching from a longtime titleholder who was withering away before a supportive crowd's eyes.
Fury hurt his own cause in the 11th, as referee Tony Weeks docked him a point for excessive rabbit punching. Klitschko finally showed fire in the 12th, dominating Fury and connecting with several heavy right hands, but it was far too little, far too late. HBO Boxing showed his last-minute attempts to steal the fight:
WATCH: @Klitschko battles back in round twelve. #KlitschkoFury #TweetReplay https://t.co/mySt9pHXjy2015-11-28 23:08:50
Fury serenaded the Esprit Arena crowd with a song after his big win, though few analysts will be singing his praises after the bout. Klitschko handed him the title, though Fury deserves credit for avoiding any major mistakes over 12 rounds.
Assuming Klitschko has the desire to come back from his abject display, there could be a rematch between these two. When he finally let his hands go late, Klitschko looked like the better fighter. One has to wonder how this bout would've turned out had Klitschko forced the action a few rounds earlier and gotten to Fury's suspect chin.