On Sunday, Deontay Wilder felt the weight of the world champion on his shoulders, and cringed. The American summed up his defeat to Tyson Fury at its best. “I did my best, but it wasn’t good enough tonight. I’m not sure what happened,” he said after his 11th-round knockout loss. “I knew he wasn’t going to be a ballet dancer at 277 pounds had come. He came to trust me, tried to harass me and he succeeded.
For the first meeting between two undefeated heavyweights back in 2018, Wilder and Fury came in at 212 and 256 pounds, respectively. After that thrilling draw, Fury parted ways with Ben Davison—the coach who orchestrated his return from the woods—and joined Cronk Boxing Gym.
Cronk, which moved out of the basement of Detroit’s oldest entertainment center, became a household name in the 1970s under the leadership of Emanuel Steward. His list of champion alumni includes Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Milton McCrory, Gerald McClellan and Lennox Lewis, who praised Fury for joining Cronk in 2019.
“Every time you see a Cronk fighter, you can expect to see something special, Cronk fighters do things that no other fighters do and I know exactly that,” said heavyweight legend Lewis.
But what do Cronk fighters do? They punish opponents by leaning on them, making them carry the load and harness their energy. Steward passed away in 2012, but his nephew Javan ‘Sugarhill’ Steward Cronk is carrying on the legacy. Jawan wanted Fury to be heavy for the rematch. Thus last February the weight of Britain was 273 pounds.
Wilder also jumped from 212 to 231 for the second fight. But while no one could accuse the modified Fury of being aesthetically-pleasing and impeccably-chiseled, Wilder’s increase in weight was accompanied by an increase in muscle mass. Punctures are born and not made, as the boxing saying goes. The added mass doesn’t exponentially increase the wielder’s already destructive power. Instead, he dropped out fast, and Fury went to work with swooping and clenching, earning a stoppage in the 7th round.
This angle of Tyson Fury’s stunning 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder is a thing of beauty.
— Chisanga Malata (@Chisanga_Malata) 10 October 2021
For the trilogy fight, both Fury and Wilder doubled down on their strategies, posting career-heavy weights at 277 and 238 lbs, respectively. It is to Wilder’s credit that his heart and right hand kept him in the fight, almost putting an end to Fury. But it was the British who finished what he had started in the second battle.
Fury has always been an unorthodox, awkward tactic. But he appears to have learned a few tricks from Emanuel Steward’s golden heavyweight. Like Lewis, he leaned over and used the little wielder as a body rest, lulled him down, got a moment’s rest and set up the combination with a jab. And like Wladimir Klitschko, he fell on the back leg, taking a sting out of Wilder’s right hand.
The gameplan naturally employs dirty boxing. The clinch – placing arms over an opponent, placing their forehead on their shoulder and holding tightly – often develops into a headlock. Like Lewis, Fury repeatedly pushed on Wilder’s neck and pulled him back with a close uppercut. During the last fight, he was penalized at one point for tactics and was given a warning on Sunday as well. But Fury made Wilder realize all of his 277 lbs and took his feet away. And that’s the Cronk way.