Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Title Fight

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2015

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Title Fight

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    The biggest heavyweight championship fight in recent memory has been finalized.

    ESPN.com's Dan Rafael tweeted on Monday that undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will defend his titles against undefeated mandatory challenger Tyson Fury on October 24 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

    Klitschko has won his last 22 fights and held at least a share of boxing's marquee crown since knocking out Chris Byrd in 2006. His nine-year reign is the second-longest in heavyweight history behind Joe Louis, and his 18 consecutive defenses are third all-time behind Larry Holmes (20) and Louis (25).

    Fury is the WBA's mandatory No. 1 contender. The brash Brit is known for his big talk and big punch, and he's one of the few heavyweight fighters who will carry height, reach and likely weight advantages into the ring against the defending champion. 

    This is a fight fan's dream come true.

    The heavyweight division has only recently begun to stir out of a nearly decadelong slumber marked by subpar competition and a lack of compelling challengers for Klitschko during his long reign. The emergence of a new crop of young upstarts has changed that equation and brought relevancy back to the land of the big men.

    Klitschko vs. Fury is on!

    Read on for your complete head-to-toe breakdown of the huge championship contest.

Fight Info

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Main Event: Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury; 12-round heavyweight championship bout for Klitschko's IBF, WBA and WBO Heavyweight Championships 

    Where: TBA; Dusseldorf, Germany

    When: October 24, 2015

    TV: HBO

Tale of the Tape

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press
     Wladimir KlitschkoTyson Fury
    Record64-3, 53 KO24-0, 18 KO
    Age3926
    Height6'6"6'9"
    Weight241.5 lbs (last fight)260 lbs (last fight)
    Reach81''85"
    StanceOrthodoxOrthodox
    ResidenceKiev, UkraineWilmslow, Cheshire, United Kingdom
    Rounds346134
    Last FightUD 12 Bryant Jennings (4/25/15)RTD 8 Christian Hammer (2/28/15)

    All stats and information per BoxRec.

What You Need to Know

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Klitschko has barely been challenged during his nine-year reign of heavyweight dominance. Others have come along and staked claims to his throne, but he remains the undisputed champion until someone topples him, or he calls it quits.

    Most believe that Fury is one of the two big men currently on the scene with the best chance to take Wlad's crown and/or force him to exit stage left. The other is WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who will likely be first in line to challenge the winner for the legitimate title sometime next year.

    Klitschko's last defense came in April against previously unbeaten American Bryant Jennings at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was his first fight on American shores and the first defense of the recognized heavyweight title outside of Europe since 2008.

    Jennings' athleticism gave Klitschko some trouble, leading to some speculation about whether the heavyweight kingpin was the victim of an off night plus a determined foe, or if inevitable decline had begun to settle in on his 39-year-old frame.

    Fury will certainly look to put that question to the test and see whether or not the champion still has the wherewithal, sharpness and commitment to hold off a younger, bigger foe.

    The 26-year-old hitter "promised" to knock out Klitschko as far back as 2013, per ESPN UK, and he didn't back away from that prognostication and its requisite gusto once the fight was announced.

    Fury tweeted (warning: strong language) directly to Klitschko on Monday: "If I can't KTFO a 40ya I need f-----g, must be useless, no pressure though, 1000000000% @Klitschko is getting smashed."

    Translation: Fury is coming to knock Klitschko the blank out and take his belt. Whether or not he can is a whole different story, but it should be a lot of fun to find out.

Boxing Ability

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Wladimir Klitschko

    Klitschko is pretty much everything a heavyweight boxer should be. He's the prototype and has been the gold standard for the big boys over the past decade. His attack begins with a sharp, piston-like jab that he uses to control the distance of the fight and set up his huge straight right hand and powerful hooks.

    He doesn't waste much, if any, effort and is an exceptional technician. That sometimes gets lost in the morass of criticisms of the state of the heavyweight division, but Klitschko is truly a master on par with the historic greats who have ruled this division. 

    Tyson Fury

    Fury is a solid boxer, but he'll never be confused for elite on that score. He can be difficult to handle once he establishes his jab and gets into a rhythm, and he'll have Klitschko by about four inches in reach.

    The Brit is used to having a sizable—forgive the lack of better words—size advantage over his foes, which makes his jab and ability to control distance all the more important. He'll have a size advantage over Klitschko as well, but this animal is wholly different from any he's imposed his will on before.

    Advantage

    Klitschko by a mile. There really isn't a whole lot of debate here.

    Wlad is a superior technician, and he's got Fury bested on this by a large margin.

Power

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Wladimir Klitschko

    You don't stop 53 heavyweight fighters without having some serious zip on your fastball.

    Klitschko's safety-first style sometimes masks how freakishly strong he is and the massive amounts of power he's able to generate on all his punches. His jab is a functional power shot, which he can turn around mid-flight into a sweeping hook, and his straight right is a howitzer shot that's made plenty of people think better of fighting on.

    Tyson Fury

    Fury's knockout percentage sits just a few ticks below Klitschko—75 percent for the Brit and 79 for the champion—but that's come with a much smaller sample size and against a caliber of foe made up mostly of second-tier-or-below fighters. 

    Nobody is saying that Fury doesn't have power. But it's one thing to demonstrate the ability to make it pay off against the Vinny Maddalones and Joey Abells of the world and quite another to make it count against the heavyweight champion.

    Advantage

    One fighter has been heavyweight champion for a decade and has knocked out 50-plus opponents.

    One hasn't.

    Questions?

Defense

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Wladimir Klitschko

    Klitschko has tremendous lateral movement and has drastically improved his defense and conditioning after a couple of shocking stoppages earlier in his career. He once had a reputation for being chinny, but he hasn't been hurt in a decade.

    His defense begins with offense. He jabs to maintain distance and ties up whenever the fight gets close, smartly imposing his large frame on opponents to wear them down. He sometimes gets into trouble with the excessive nature of his jab-and-grab style and lost a point for holding against Jennings.

    Tyson Fury

    Fury gets into trouble when he clowns too much in the ring. He's been known not to be the most defensively aware fighter, sometimes dropping his hands in front of his opponent to clown them. That would not be a smart idea against a puncher as strong and seasoned as Klitschko.

    For a nearly 7-footer, Fury has a bad tendency to make himself more hittable by ducking down and negating his height advantage. He's also been dropped by opponents less threatening than Klitschko, leading to questions about his beard.

    Advantage

    Klitschko has been extremely effective—if not always aesthetically pleasing—at limiting 22 straight opponents from getting into scoring range and trying to take advantage of what was once considered his Achilles' heel. He's taken defensive awareness to an extreme level, and he's very good at it.

Game Plan

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Wladimir Klitschko

    Klitschko's ability to find one thing that works and do it over and over again without deviation or doubt has been a hallmark of his reign as heavyweight champion. There's no reason to expect that will change now, and, more importantly, there's no reason for him to tinker with what works.

    Wlad will try to do what he always does. He'll jab from the outside, dropping his more accurate rangefinder at distance to set up his bigger foe for a steady diet of straight right hands and hooks. It's a tried-and-true method, and it's not going to change now. You go with what got you to the dance at this level.

    Tyson Fury

    Fury has a bit of a conundrum here. It's difficult to see how he outboxes a technically superior fighter with a world's worth of championship experience, but it's also virtually impossible to get into scoring range without paying the price of steadily eating jabs and right hands. And his chin hasn't always been, well, his best quality.

    So what do you do? Jennings is a whole lot more athletic than Fury, but he was able to find some success by forcing Wlad to work a ton for a little bit of return. Fury needs to keep using his jab and not be intimidated on the outside, remain defensively aware at medium range and outmuscle his man, wearing him down and finding some room to work on the inside.

    Advantage

    Wlad has the surer path to victory.

    The champion has perfected his game plan over years of practice, practice, practice, and it's second nature to him at this point. Fury needs some luck or something to go wrong in order to overcome Klitschko's super strategy and boxing acumen.

Early Prediction

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Fury is a talented fighter, but there are just too many questions about his chin, stamina, level of commitment and opposition to feel comfortable saying he will walk out of Germany as the undisputed world heavyweight champion.

    The only way Wlad loses this fight is if his less-than-superb performance against Jennings on a spring night in New York City was the first crack in the dam of precipitous decline and not just one off night against a tricky, athletic foe.

    Klitschko is—simply put—one of the greatest heavyweight fighters and champions in the long history of the division and the sport. He belongs among the pantheon of past greats and will cement that legacy here by turning back a younger, bigger, trash-talking foe by knockout sometime in the middle rounds.

    If Steve Cunningham, a natural cruiserweight, and Neven Pajkic, an unknown, can drop Fury, then you can bet Klitschko can put a few dings in his dome as well.

    Fury will come out looking to make his statement by blowing through the champion, and his careless, brash ways will be his undoing. He'll leave himself open, make mistakes and pay for them in a big way.

    Wlad will be the sharper, more controlled puncher, using his jab to open up Fury for the bigger fight-ending bombs.

    Klitschko stops Fury on a devastating left jab, straight right combination in Round 7 to once again show that his time in the sun has not yet run out.

    Prediction: Klitschko TKO 7 Fury

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