There are big fighters. And there are talented fighters.

A lot of guys have one quality but not the other.

In fact, only a very precious few possess both on an elite level.

Tyson Fury is one of those guys.

And when it comes to all-time heavyweight fighters, none have blended them better.

Just look at the numbers.

He’s 6-foot-9. He’s got an 81-inch reach. And he weighs around 270 pounds.

For a good frame of reference, imagine NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. He played pro ball for 16 seasons and generated much of his success thanks to superior strength and aggression.

Few guys in basketball history were as tough.

Now imagine Barkley three inches taller, 20 pounds heavier and able to move like a dancer.

That’s Fury. And no one his size has ever done the things he does in a 20 x 20 square.

Of course, that’s not to suggest he’s not had tough moments.

Neven Pajkic and Steve Cunningham both knocked him off his feet before being stopped themselves, and Deontay Wilder dropped him twice in their first run-through and twice more in the third.

But while a LaMotta-grade chin may not be on his list of attributes, a Gatti-level heart surely is.

Fury climbed off the deck four times against a guy who’d KO’d every other foe he’d ever faced and dished out enough punishment upon rising to win their trilogy by a convincing 2-0-1 score. 

In other words, he’s been every bit as impenetrable as Tyson, Lewis or Liston — each of whom were stopped multiple times by significant underdogs — ever dreamed of being.

He's ended 22 of 32 fights before the final bell across 13-plus years and has gotten to a point where if a foe wins a round for every three he loses, it's framed as an indication of vulnerability.

That’s just plain baloney. 

Like suggesting 42-14 in football or 9-3 in hockey wouldn't be considered a rout.

The closer Fury is compared to those who came before him, the clearer it becomes.

Of those typically on the Mount Rushmore of Heavyweights — Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes — only Ali and Holmes would be within six inches and 50 pounds of the mammoth Brit, while Louis and Marciano, on their title-winning nights, were far closer in weight to Canelo Alvarez.

It’s true that size doesn't always matter. 

But when it comes to the biggest of big men, it doesn’t hurt.

Upon realizing the heaviest elite that Louis or Marciano ever fought was a cruiserweight-sized Joe Walcott, it's easy to imagine the “Brown Bomber” and the “Brockton Blockbuster” bouncing off the mat like Joe Frazier in Jamaica when being hammered by a guy who outweighs them by 72 and 85 pounds.

And with Ali and Holmes, it's just as easy to envision the same bigger man controlling space with jabs from tree-limb forearms, while the supremely talented smaller men struggle to simply stand ground.

Fury, by the way, is six inches taller and 53 pounds heavier than "Big" George Foreman was when he fought Ali, and he's bigger and more skilled by any measure than the largest challenge Holmes ever encountered as champion — a 6-foot-5, 225-pound Gerry Cooney — in 1982.

All things equal, does that mean Fury beats a similarly sized version of every past champion? 

No way. 

By the way, do me a favor and read that again before sending snarky comments. 

He's not as elegant as “The Greatest,” not as rugged as the “Real Deal” and not as excellent all-around as the “Easton Assassin.” Put them in all in equally equipped race cars and “The Gypsy King” certainly qualifies somewhere other than pole position in a race for history's top heavyweight spot.

But when you consider the horsepower being both gigantic and capable brings — and you're interested in more than esoteric resonance — there's simply no one else to ride with when the light goes green. 

Because when it comes to the biggest men, he's the best there's been.   

* * * * * * * * * * 

This week’s title-fight schedule: 



WBO bantamweight title – Liverpool, England

John Riel Casimero (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Paul Butler (No. 1 WBO/No. 53 IWBR)

Casimero (31-4, 21 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten in seven fights since 2017 (7-0, 6 KO)

Butler (33-2, 15 KO): Fourth title fight (1-2); Held IBF title at 118 pounds (2014, zero defenses) 

Fitzbitz says: Butler’s won seven in a row and he’s fighting on familiar turf, but it’s been years since he had a relevant opponent and Casimero is in the midst of a legit hot streak. Casimero in 9 (75/25)

WBO mini-flyweight title – Tokyo, Japan

Masataka Taniguchi (champion/No. 5 IWBR) vs. Kai Ishizawa (No. 5 WBO/No. 13 IWBR)

Taniguchi (15-3, 10 KO): First title defense; Two of three career losses at Korakuen Hall (5-2, 2 KO)

Ishizawa (10-1, 9 KO): First title fight; Lost by decision to Taniguchi in 2019 (UD 8)

Fitzbitz says: There’s really not a lot of reason to pick the challenger. He hasn’t beaten a truly elite foe and he lost a wide decision when these two met three years ago. But… hunch. Ishizawa in 6 (51/49)


WBC heavyweight title – London, England

Tyson Fury (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Dillian Whyte (Unranked WBC/No. 4 IWBR)

Fury (31-0-1, 22 KO): Second title defense; First non-Wilder title fight since 2015 (1-0, 0 KO)

Whyte (28-2, 19 KO): First title fight; Both career losses in scheduled 12-rounders (8-2, 4 KO)

Fitzbitz says: Whyte can punch plenty and Fury can be dropped. But he’s always gotten up. And there’s nothing about Whyte to suggest he’s the one to reverse that trend this time. Fury in 10 (95/5)

Last week's picks: 1-0 (WIN: Spence)  

2022 picks record: 10-3 (76.9 percent)  

Overall picks record: 1,219-395 (75.5 percent)  

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.  

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.