ANTHONY JOSHUA insists Tyson Fury’s fighting CV is lightweight compared to his heavyweight conquests.
AJ has the scalps of Kubrat Pulev, Alexander Povetkin, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko and Andy Ruiz Jr.
But he got to 10-year-champion Klitschko three years after Fury bamboozled him in 2015 and the Ruiz rematch win only came after a crushing KO loss five months earlier.
Fury has fewer steller names on his record but his two wins over Derek Chisora have improved with age thanks to Del Boy’s impressive recent run of form.
And the Gypsy King did end Dr Steelhammer’s 11-year unbeaten run, in his adopted German home.
And he should have two Deontay Wilder wins on his record – the man AJ tried and failed to fight for 18 frustrating months previously.
Fury, 32, insists he is levels above his 31-year-old Watford rival and the Saudi Arabia summer showdown will be a one-sided shellacking limited to just a few of the early rounds.
But SunSport remembers a few of the times Fury has come close to losing his unbeaten record and only his freakish combination of size and skill – and some dubious judging – have helped him survive deep water.
John McDermott, 2009 – 98-92 points win – 9-0
Fury, then just 21, showed plenty of guts and confidence by jumping in with a veteran McDermott for the English title in just his eighth pro fight. But the gamble should have backfired.
McDermott, who never looked like much of an athlete, repeatedly whacked Fury with looping right hands and bullied the gangly novice over ten rounds.
The Brentwood crowd gasped when referee Terry O’Connor, in charge of scoring the bout single-handed, raised Fury’s arm with a score of 98-92 or 8-2 in rounds.
McDermott claims Fury’s father John met him in the Essex car park afterwards and said “the wrong man won”.
The heartbroken slugger never bore a grudge, was stopped in the rematch and went on to become a sparring partner as Fury rose up the ranks.
McDermott credits Fury with the bravery to face him so early in his career and the chin to take some of his best whacks but he knows who really won that fight.
Neven Pajkic, 2011 – R3 TKO – 17-0
Fury welcomed his Bosnia-born Canadian challenger to Manchester for the first defence of hsi Commonwealth title.
Fury was 11 years younger but also two stone heavier and six inches taller.
The Brit was coasting for the first five minutes, against a challenger not noted for his power, but he was thumped by a looping right hand and floored for the first time in his career.
After making the count and battling back, Fury was clipped by the same shot with seconds of the round left but he remained vertical.
And, with his frantic home crowd and family roaring him on from ringside, Fury dropped Pajkic twice in the second and was nailed on for the hat-trick before the ref saved him.
Steve Cunningham, 2013 – R7 KO – 21-0
Fury wanted to put on a show for his US debut and spent the opening round switching stances, taunting Cunningham and landing a flamboyant range of shots, usually with his fists flying up from his waist.
But, in the middle of another second-round showboat, Cunningham looped in the same overhand right McDermott and Pajkic had enjoyed success with and decked Fury.
Unlike in the Wilder rematch, when it looked like Fury was unconscious for five seconds, Fury’s lights remained on.
He got up and dominated the former cruiserweight for the five following rounds and, with Cunningham exhausted after being mauled and whacked by a man three stone heavier for 20 minutes, he was floored and stopped by a right hook.
Deontay Wilder, 2018 – split draw – 27-0-1
Fury’s own father, himself a former fighter, thought taking on the unbeaten KO artist after three years of depression, obesity and drug abuse was madness.
Only Tyson and promoter Frank Warren seemed to really fancy his chances of flying over to America and dethroning the terrifying Alabama slammer.
But Fury raced into Los Angeles and befuddled Wilder for most of the fight until the drastic weight loss, inactivity and a couple of lapses in concentration cost him the win – officially – but secured his place as an almost mythical fighting figure.
Wilder landed two cuffing blows around the back of Fury’s head in round nine and he folded into the canvas for a count but he rose and returned fire.
Then, in the 12th, Wilder almost decapitated Fury with a right hand and left hook that robbed him of all his senses.
For five seconds Fury, eyes closed in the land of nod, looked like a beaten man. But he rose in the nick of time and was harshley handed a draw after somehow fighting back and dominating the round in one of the most stunning rounds in modern boxing.
Otto Wallin – 2019 – unanimous decision – 29-0-1
After penning a £100m contract with ESPN, Fury was allowed a couple of ‘easy’ Stateside fights to charm the pay-per-view buying fans ahead of the Wilder rematch.
Tom Schwartz three months earlier was a jolly-up but Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin was almost a bloody disaster.
Without a bonafide cut man in his corner, Fury had his right eye slashed open by a left hand in the third round that required a whopping forty seven stitches.
Fury and then trainer Ben Davison, at the time an untested 27-year-old, kept ice cool heads in the Las Vegas heat and held on for a points win.
If Wallin – or any out-of-town challenger – had suffered a similar slash against a champion with a mega-money TV deal, he would have been hauled out and handed a loss.
But Fury got the benefit of the doubt from referee Tony Weeks and deserved the win after showing unflappable nerves and solid skills.