Wladimir Klitschko has more than achieved the dominance expected of him when he was the "next big thing." His current IBF reign (9 years 222 days) is the second longest in history and if one adds his first WBO reign he has spent more time as a heavyweight titlist than anyone (11 years 367 days -- with three "leap days" added -- vs. Joe Louis' 11 years 255 days). The 6-foot-9 Tyson Fury, only the second Klitschko opponent to own height and reach advantages, poses a serious threat but can he make the historic leap in front of Klitschko's adoring fans in Germany? If he can, it will be a night to remember.
Thriving Despite Deficit: Mariusz Wach stood one-and-a-half inches taller and owned a one-inch reach edge but Klitschko dealt with his anatomical challenges by not only out-jabbing the Pole but doing so emphatically. His 12.8 jab connects per round more than doubled the 5.6 heavyweight average and with it he controlled pace (57.8 per round vs. 25.7 for Wach) and maximized his effectiveness while minimizing Wach's (274-60 overall, 153-35 jabs, 121-25 power; 40%-20% overall, 35%-15% jabs, 48%-33% power). Wach, who averaged 2.9 jab connects, never landed more than seven punches in any given round (he did it three times) while Klitschko's lowest connect figure was 14 in the fourth and 12th rounds. But while Wach was lumbering, Fury is impressively coordinated for a man his size. Thus, Klitschko, now four years older, will face a steeper physical and stylistic challenge. In his last last 13 fights, Klitschko has landed 9 jabs per round (tied for #2 with Herrera- GGG, 11 per round #1). Klitschko opponents landed just 22% of their total punches-- that's 5 per round- 66% fewer than hvt. avg. (16). Klitschko has a +13 plus/minus rating. He outlanded those 13 opponents nearly 3-1 in total punches (1707-578).
A Younger Klitschko?: Fury has dominated his fights with a strategic formula familiar to "Dr. Steelhammer": Dominate range with a busy jab and land power shots at times of his choosing. In his last five CompuBox-tracked fights (vs. Christian Hammer, Dereck Chisora II, Steve Cunningham, Kevin Johnson and Nicolai Firtha) Fury has out-worked (62.5 per round to 27.1), out-jabbed (36.9 thrown/8.2 connects per round to 12.4 thrown/2.8 connects) and landed more of his power shots (41%-36%). He comes into the Klitschko fight off two straight sparkling performances as he trounced Chisora and Hammer before earning two corner retirements. Against Chisora (KO 10) he averaged 70 punches per round to Chisora's 22.1, led 136-53 overall, 52-7 jabs, 84-46 power and averaged 47.4 jabs/5.2 connects per round while against Hammer (KO 8) he averaged 63.3 punches per round (including 34 jabs and 5.5 landed jabs per round), prevailed 152-44 overall, 44-7 jabs and 108-37 power and dominated in terms of accuracy (30%-22% overall, 16%-11% jabs, 46%-28% power). He also switched stances and fired combinations effortlessly. Can he do the same against the legendary champion?
Prediction: This is the most severe threat to Klitschko's reign since David Haye more than four years ago. Fury's height, reach, strength, fluidity and ambition are formidable assets. But three factors will repel Fury; Klitschko hits far harder, represents a massive jump in class and will be fighting before his home fans. Klitschko by decision