Tommy Fury comes from a fighting family. After all, his half-brother, Tyson Fury, is a heavyweight world champion. But Fury has made his name another way, becoming a television personality and gaining fame on the U.K. reality show “Love Island.”
Fury started fighting professionally at the end of 2018 and has accumulated a record of 8-0 with 4 KOs. His first opponent had 102 losses on his record with just 10 victories. His most recent victory over the 10-1 Daniel Bocianski was his best victory to date.
On Sunday, Fury faces YouTube sensation-turned-boxer Jake Paul at Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 2 p.m. ET).
The question is: Can Tommy Fury actually fight? And can he beat Paul, who has been improving fight-to-fight since his pro debut just 3 years ago? Former two-division champion and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. breaks it down.
Can Tommy Fury fight?
Yes, Tommy Fury can fight.
He comes from a fighting family, but when I look at him compared to Tyson, I get the impression that baby brother fights because it’s a family tradition — similar to an entire family going to the same university generation after generation.
Fury has been around boxing most of his life, so he knows the game firsthand, including the “hit and don’t get hit” philosophy. Fury can implement a strategy needed to beat Paul. He has good instincts and a natural flow and cadence as a boxer. Unlike Paul, Fury knows how to waltz and move fluently with not much breakup in his rhythm. However, Paul seems to fight off rhythm often, which could cause problems for his opponents because of the unpredictability that follows untraditional movements in boxing.
I consider Fury a technical boxer who applies a manufactured hyperactive rhythm to give the intent to harm. He uses subtle feints and herky-jerky hand gestures similar to his half-brother. Tommy attempts to occupy the space in between with his feet inching forward or backward depending on the range needed to execute his offense. He isn’t an offensive specialist, and I worry about his usage of the long guard with his left hand extended, probing while stepping in and out of range. Paul’s subtle, explosive, surprising speed can take advantage of Fury’s defensive deficiencies that occur with that long guard.
Fury can throw more than two punches at a time in combination, unlike Paul, who tends to throw two punches at a time because of his poor distance recognition. Paul is still learning how to gauge his range; however, when Paul gets it right, he is dangerous with his right hand. I suspect Tommy will clinch when Paul gets too close to stop his offense and slow down the pace. I’d also guess Tommy uses lateral movement and forces Paul, the puncher, to reset his feet repeatedly, keeping him from having a stable base to maximize his punching power. Paul is an aggressive puncher who crouches and stays low to generate his power from the bottom up. Fury can also provide incremental pressure as Paul is still learning to deal with pressure under attack.
Can Fury win? Yes, but not without concern.
Let’s say he does everything I’ve mentioned, including hitting Paul’s body to slow him down. Let’s say he hits Paul with his best punch and produces a nasty cut, taking Paul to a place he has never been physically or mentally. What if Fury is ahead on scorecards as well?
Do me a favor and remember this word: time. Time is a puncher’s best friend, and as long as there is time for Paul to turn over one of his devastating overhand rights, things will not be safe for Fury. It’s one thing to give a punch but another to be able to take one. Most boxing insiders believe Fury is supposed to win this fight. He has more experience and comes from a fighting background, unlike Paul. But even if Fury is doing everything right, can he take it on the chin? Time will tell.
What should we anticipate?
Mark Kriegel: Jake Paul is great for boxing
Mark Kriegel discusses why he thinks Jake Paul is great for boxing and what his lasting impact on the sport may be.
Clinches. And lots of them! The clinch is a tactic used by fighters to stop or break the forward momentum of their opponents. It also allows boxers to take a momentary break from the action and recuperate or recharge — when done correctly. Without getting too technical, clinching serves a role in the art of boxing, and unfortunately, clinching is at its highest when you have two novices sharing the ring.
Both Fury and Paul are still learning on the job. They aren’t complete fighters just yet, and they haven’t developed the art of infighting, so clinching while in close contact with an opponent is considered their safe place. Fury does have some amateur background, but in the professionals, so far, Fury’s previous opponents have a combined record of 24 wins, 167 losses and 5 draws. He has more fighting experience than Paul, for sure. However, judging by his record, Fury isn’t a big puncher — more of a respectable puncher. Respectable means he can get someone’s attention if he lands in the right spot at the right time. Paul is by far the superior puncher in this clash. In Paul’s case, the competition he has faced hasn’t been the most challenging either, as his pre-self-made fame, fortune and boxing experience all have to balance out.
The combined boxing record of all Paul’s opponents is three wins with two losses. However, Paul has six fights under his belt. Of those six matchups, three were against former MMA fighters, including two bouts against Tyron Woodley. The first bout ended in a controversial victory for Paul, as many viewers thought Woodley edged it out. The second showdown ended abruptly with an overhand right that floored Woodley in Round 6. Paul beat former MMA fighter Ben Askren by first-round TKO and legendary MMA fighter Anderson Silva by decision. He also fought and knocked out former basketball player Nate Robinson in the second round and YouTuber Ali Eson Gib in the first round.
Let me put this into perspective: Only two of Paul’s opponents have ever fought inside a ring before facing him, and four were boxing debutants. I would consider this match a step-up fight for both fighters. At the same time, the experience favors Fury considerably.
I believe this match will be entertaining, but not without severe clinching that will take away some of the excitement. If you’re tuning in, please pre-program your mind beforehand knowing that it may get ugly with excessive holding.
My pick: Paul by KO. But — and a big “but” — if Paul doesn’t land his powerful right hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fury edges a decision win.