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Is Tyson Fury at the end of his career?

According to former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson, the Gypsy King may not have the appetite for a rematch after his loss to Oleksandr Usyk.

Boxing - Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk - Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - May 19, 2024 Tyson Fury  during press conference Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Andrew CouldridgeAction Images via Reuters

Just a fortnight ago, we saw what most boxing pundits believe is the last of Deontay Wilder. Whether he enters the ring again or not, the Bronze Bomber is a hollow husk of his former self, his glory days behind him. Now those same questions are being raised about Tyson Fury.

The longest-reigning cruiserweight champion in history, Johnny Nelson, spoke about the first fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk and the upcoming rematch on December 21. Speaking to Sky Sports, Nelson said, “Tyson Fury chose the wrong tactics. Will he have learned the lesson? If he has, I don’t think it will be the same result. We saw the success he had midway through the fight. My main concern between now and then is Tyson’s mental appetite for this rematch, knowing that Usyk had the better of him once. Tyson is an unbelievable historian of our sport. For him to get his head around that, to get his self-belief around, that’s going to be very hard for him.”

Fury’s career has been marked by dramatic comebacks and an indomitable will to overcome adversity. His victory over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and subsequent battles with mental health issues and substance abuse are well-documented. Fury’s trilogy with Wilder solidified his reputation as one of the greatest heavyweights of his era. But this latest defeat may have left Fury at a crossroads.

Nelson continued, “Tyson is one of the best all-round fighters out there. He’s a good boxer, he’s a good fighter. But unfortunately, you can be too smart. Tyson outsmarted himself to the point where he had to try to outbox Usyk, who was the better boxer. Not the better fighter, the better boxer.”

A fighter’s confidence and psychological resilience can determine their ability to recover from a loss and continue competing at an elite level. But each time you do come back, it takes a little more out of you. Fury has overcome adversity before, but never has he had to come back from a loss. The pressure of maintaining an undefeated record and the scrutiny that comes with being the top name in the sport can weigh heavily on any athlete.

Nelson said in an interview a few days later, “And I know this is a bit controversial, but I think Tyson is on the decline, I don’t think Tyson will fight again. Because the scorecards were close, they are telling you that you’ve seen something you haven’t seen. I didn’t see that. I had Usyk up by four rounds. Don’t let them say to you, ‘Believe me not your lying eyes.’ You saw what you saw.”

Explaining his views further, Nelson said, “I don’t care what Frank Warren says, I don’t care what Spencer Brown says, these are not fighting folk. Tyson has to look at that fight. He’s got to get it in his head, ‘Oh my God! That happened to me! I got rocked by this gap-toothed, jumped up middleweight!’ And Tyson’s head will be absolutely fried.”

After the viral video from the weekend where we all saw a drunk Tyson Fury stumble and fall outside of a Morecambe pub, there are fans and critics alike who will be wondering if Nelson might be onto something. Perhaps it was just a drunken night out with friends, and if so, then Fury has earned it. We have all been there and the man has worked hard for a very long time. But if it is a sign of the turmoil inside of the Gypsy King, then perhaps there is indeed a question mark hanging over his career.