Tyson Fury ends Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight reign

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DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision Saturday to end the Ukrainian’s 9 1/2-year reign as heavyweight champion and fulfill his father’s prophesy from the day he was born.

Born three months early and weighing just one pound (.45 kg), Fury wasn’t given much chance to live, but John Fury told doctors it was his destiny to live and become heavyweight champion of the world. He named the second of his six sons Tyson, after Mike Tyson.

Twenty-seven years later, the 2.09-meter (6-foot-9) Tyson Fury, who is of Irish-Gypsy heritage and comes from a bloodline of bare-knuckle champions on both sides of his family, finally lived up to his name.

“It’s something I’ve been working on for my whole life,” Fury said. “I’m bred to be a fighter.”

After a bruising encounter that ended with cuts near both of Klitschko’s eyes, referee Tony Weeks went to the judges’ scorecards.

Cesar Ramos and Raul Caiz Sr. scored it 115-112 each, while Ramon Cerdan had it 116-111 in favor of the undefeated Briton (25-0, 18 KO).

Fury took Klitschko’s WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight belts, as well as the minor IBO title, and attention turned immediately to a potential rematch.

“We have a rematch clause in the contract,” Klitschko promoter Bernd Boente said.

“I’m a fighter so I will take on all challengers,” Fury said. “I came here tonight, took the world title. Whatever happens next is a blessing. The interest in the next fight will be huge.”

Fury, 12 years younger than the 39-year-old Klitschko, taunted and baited the champion at various stages, prompting jeers from fans at the 55,000-seat soccer stadium in Duesseldorf.

Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO), contesting his 28th title fight, was cautious until attempting a recovery in the final rounds, but suffered his first defeat since April 2004.

“The speed was missing. Reach played a big role. I tried but it didn’t work,” said Klitschko, who at 1.98-meters (6-foot-6), was in the unusual position of facing someone taller. Fury, who weighed in at 112 kilograms (247 pounds) also had half-kilo (1.1 pound) weight advantage.

“I saw my face in the mirror and it didn’t look so nice. But that’s boxing,” Klitschko said.

Klitschko, the premier heavyweight of his era, relinquished the IBF belt he had held since 2006, the WBO title he’d owned since 2008, and the WBA crown he’d had since 2011.

The other major belt, the WBC title, was held by Deontay Wilder of the U.S. That was vacated in 2013 by Klitschko’s older brother Vitali, the current mayor of Kiev, Ukraine.

The buildup to the fight had seen Fury dressing as Batman and serenading and insulting Klitschko, and even complimenting him on his scent.

“I’ve said some stupid things,” an emotional Fury said of his pre-fight talk and antics. “Wladimir, you’re a great champion and thanks for having me. It was all fun and games in the buildup.”

Earlier Saturday, Fury threatened to call off the bout unless an issue with the canvas being too soft was resolved.

There were also issues over gloves and glove-wrapping. Vitali Klitschko oversaw Fury’s glove-wrapping, but the Fury camp was incensed when the younger Klitschko wrapped the gloves without any of them present. That spat was resolved when he agreed to re-wrap.

Fury was itching to go from the start, and he ran into the first round to put Klitschko off kilter. The Briton also goaded Klitschko during and after the round.

Fury then landed a big right on Klitschko in the fifth, when he opened a small cut under his right eye, and taunted him again.

The Briton’s intensity seemed to drop as Klitschko improved, but still he needled him in the seventh, when he urged Klitschko to “come on” and baited him with his hands behind his back, prompting more jeers.

Klitschko replied to an uppercut in the ninth with a big right of his own before Fury was warned for punching the back of his head. But then he had Klitschko in trouble in the corner.

Klitschko needed a response, and sought it in the 10th, by which time there was blood coming from his left eye, too.

Fury had a point deducted for hitting behind the head in the 11th and both fighters gave their all in a furious final round before raising their arms in celebration. The Fury camp’s celebrations seemed more sincere.

“I am perhaps the sixth or seventh British heavyweight champion of the world and I believe I am the first Irish heavyweight champion of the world, so big that up,” said Fury, who also revealed that his wife, Paris, is expecting their third child.

“I got the news yesterday that we were pregnant. We were trying for two years so this is obviously the icing on the cake,” Fury said.

After fighting for Ukraine, Lomachenko fights again in ring

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NEW YORK – When Ukraine was invaded, the only fight Vasiliy Lomachenko would consider was the one for his home.

Boxing plans were put on hold, even though they appeared set to include a title match. Lomachenko calls being undisputed champion his dream, but his country’s war with Russia is real life.

“I couldn’t understand anything about what’s happening militarily,” Lomachenko said through an interpreter, “but inside you, you have a feeling of what you need to do.”

Now he’s resuming his career, starting Saturday night in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden against unbeaten Jamaine Ortiz in a bout that will stream on ESPN+.

Win, and Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) could move on to another chance to fight for the lightweight titles he once owned. But either way, first he’s headed back to Ukraine, which he believes is secure enough now to allow his family to return home this week after staying with him in California while he trained.

Nobody was sure that would be the case when Russia launched the invasion in February. Lomachenko was in Greece at the time, with an expected fight against then-lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. being planned for later in the year.

He went back to Ukraine and joined a territorial defense battalion, telling his advisers he would be unavailable to take that fight.

“When this was happening, when this started, nobody really knew anything about anything,” Lomachenko said. “And when you really have no understanding about what’s going on, every normal person, every normal citizen would go and defend his country and that’s what the majority of men do in our country.”

For Lomachenko, that meant being part of a team that enforced a 10 p.m. curfew, patrolling the streets to make sure there were no cars in sight. After about a month of that, he was trained to take part in several other duties.

“No military operations, but certain tasks,” Lomachenko said. “For example, a suburban area in the outskirts of the city that we needed to go out and do some reconnaissance, make sure that no alien people, no one unknown is basically located in that area.”

Lomachenko is one of Ukraine’s greatest athletes, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who compiled a 396-1 record as an amateur. After turning pro, he won a title in his third fight and was a champion in three weight classes after his 12th.

He eventually owned three lightweight belts before losing them to Teofimo Lopez in October 2020. Two straight wins following shoulder surgery had him on the path back toward a title shot before the war.

Lomachenko was given breaks during his service to train, so he doesn’t believe his time away will affect the rhythm and footwork that are among boxing’s best. Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs) doesn’t expect to see slippage from the fighter the Worcester, Massachusetts product has sparred against.

“I think the opponent in front of you brings out the type of fighter you are,” Ortiz said, “and I think Lomachenko is going to bring out the best Jamaine Ortiz, the fighter that everybody around me in the gym and in New England and where I come from knows.”

Lomachenko likely would have been favored to beat Kambosos, who had won the titles from Lopez. With Lomachenko unavailable, the Australian instead fought Devin Haney and dropped them in a lopsided decision, then lost the rematch two weeks ago by another wide margin.

Lomachenko doesn’t fret about the opportunity that was lost, just as he doesn’t wonder what if about the fight with Lopez. That was originally expected to take place in the spring of 2020, perhaps in what would have been a packed Madison Square Garden, where Lomachenko is 5-0. Instead, it was pushed back months because of the coronavirus and held in a mostly empty setting in Las Vegas after a nearly 14-month layoff for Lomachenko. Maybe things would have been different without the pandemic.

“I don’t have any regrets at all,” he said. “Everything happens the way they’re supposed to happen.”

Nor does he worry that the likelihood of regaining the belts will be tougher now that Haney has them. Lomachenko is small for the 135-pound weight class and would have to beat a skilled, naturally bigger man, similar to Lopez.

“The sweeter the victory shall be,” said Lomachenko, with a smile.

 

Tyson, 54, to return for exhibition match against Jones Jr.

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CARSON, Calif. — Mike Tyson is coming back to boxing at age 54.

The former heavyweight champion will meet four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition match on Sept. 12 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he won the title in 1986 at age 20 and for a time was the most feared fighter in boxing. But his career became littered with distractions and he hasn’t boxed since 2005 after losing his second straight fight.

He has occasionally teased a return with workout videos and it’s finally scheduled to happen.

Jones, 51, won titles in the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight before moving up to win the heavyweight title in 2003, becoming the first former middleweight champion to do so in 106 years.

The event will air on pay-per-view and the social media music platform Triller. Further matches on the card and musical entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.