Eddie Hearn hesitated to express his opinion on Tyson Fury’s place in heavyweight history because he didn’t want to come across as a hater.
Then Anthony Joshua’s promoter promptly picked apart Fury’s ascent on pound-for-pound lists and his resume during the newest episode of the “Boxing With Chris Mannix” podcast. Matchroom Boxing’s Hearn disputed the contention that Fury is a “generational great” because the outspoken promoter doesn’t believe Fury has defeated enough elite heavyweights to earn that place in the sport’s history.
Hearn conceded, though, that Fury must be considered boxing’s best heavyweight at the moment – above Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, the unbeaten IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion who soundly defeated Joshua on points September 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
“It’s very difficult to say anything negative about Tyson Fury at the moment, cuz you just get criticism for being, you know, ‘Ah, well, you’re just bitter. You’re just this,’ ” Hearn explained to Mannix as part of an episode that dropped Friday on The Volume Sports. “I do find it strange that you can continuously climb up a pound-for-pound ranking by beating the same person you’ve beat 2½ years ago – and the only person. But, you know, you look at the ESPN rankings, Tyson Fury beat Deontay Wilder, who he just stopped in [seven] rounds, in an absolute war, yet all of a sudden jumps up the pound-for-pound rankings [from sixth to fourth]. Like, to be a heavyweight great, you have to have a brilliant resume that consistently beats the top heavyweights of your era. Now, don’t take nothing away from the performance, the last two performances. I mean, he probably won’t be happy with his last one because he was a bit wild. But it was a great fight.”
The 6-feet-9, 277-pound Fury floored Wilder three times Saturday night – once in the third round, again in the 10th round and for the last time in their trilogy early in the 11th round. Fury’s punishing right hand to the left side of Wilder’s head sent the ex-champion crashing to the canvas and forced referee Russell Mora to immediately halt what had become one-sided action at 1:10 of the 11th round at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
England’s Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) has stopped Wilder in back-to-back bouts, but he had to get up from two fourth-round knockdowns in their third slugfest to come back to win. Fury withstood two knockdowns, one in the ninth round and another early in the 12th round, during their first meeting in December 2018 and battled Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) to a 12-round split draw at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The WBC champion dominated Wilder in their rematch. He dropped Wilder twice – once apiece in the third and fifth rounds – on his way to a seventh-round stoppage in February 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The 33-year-old Fury previously produced a career-changing victory over long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 at ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Prior to upsetting Ukraine’s Klitschko, who was a 4-1 favorite, by unanimous decision, Fury’s most noteworthy wins came against England’s Dereck Chisora, whom Fury defeated twice, and former IBF cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham. The Manchester native stopped the rugged Chisora following the 10th round of their rematch in November 2014 and knocked out Cunningham in the seventh round of an April 2013 fight in which Cunningham floored Fury in the second round.
Hearn, understandably partial toward Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), still sees holes in Fury’s resume.
“I don’t see how you can go down as a generational great without beating what might be perceived to be better fighters in your division than the guy you’ve beaten the last three fights,” Hearn said. “It’s not his fault he’s had to fight Wilder the last three fights. But he’s fought the same individual in his last three fights. So, it’s hard to say this is a generational great because he has two good wins or two good fighters on his resume. It’s Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder. I’m not saying the others aren’t good. But I’m talking about proper, elite, top-five wins.
“You know, so I think he is a generational great heavyweight – I do. But I don’t think he has the resume to stand up there and say that. But again, you know, if you start coming out with comments like that, it’s ‘Ah …’ But I think if you just have a straight head and say, ‘Look, I think it’s difficult to say he’s not [the] number one heavyweight on paper right now in the world.’ I still believe that our guy is the best heavyweight in the world. But right now, it’s difficult to convince people otherwise.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.