Undefeated in 32 fights and victorious across a thrilling trilogy of bouts against Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury has cemented his status as the best heavyweight boxer of the current era over the past two years.
But where does Fury stand in comparison to boxing’s legendary fighters? According to rival British heavyweight Dillian Whyte, the 33-year-old Fury certainly isn’t the greatest.
“Who has he fought? Deontay Wilder and [Wladimir] Klitschko … He can’t call himself the greatest,” Whyte told CNN’s Alex Thomas.
“OK, you might be the best heavyweight around in your era now because you haven’t lost, then you beat everyone put in front of you. But you’re not the greatest.
“You haven’t even achieved half of what Lennox Lewis has achieved … Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman – all of these guys.”
The 33-year-old Whyte was touted as Fury’s next opponent, although a shoulder injury has complicated those plans and caused the cancellation of his scheduled fight against Otto Wallin.
It’s unclear whether the match-up with Sweden’s Wallin, originally due to take place on October 30, will now happen, but Whyte nevertheless has half an eye on a fight further down the line.
“I want to fight the best fighters in the world and Tyson Fury is the man at the minute, he’s the undefeated heavyweight champion, he’s the one that’s won all the belts,” Whyte, who has a record of 28 wins and two losses, told CNN Sport before news of his injury emerged.
Whyte has previously spoken about being overlooked for the biggest fights over the course of his 10-year professional career.
He suffered his first defeat against former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in 2015 and his second last year against Alexander Povetkin – a loss he went on to avenge in March.
When it comes to Fury, Whyte thinks he has the style and tactics to reap success.
“I bring power and explosiveness and aggression. One thing with me is I target the head and the body,” he said.
“A lot of guys seem to head-hunt Fury. And he just moves his head around and stays out of range and stuff and no-one targets his body, but I’ll target his head and his body every minute of every round.”
Advice to Joshua: ‘Take risks’
Whyte’s injury was the latest twist in an incident-packed few weeks for the heavyweight division, which included Joshua ceding his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk.
The second defeat of his career, Joshua is set to face Usyk in a rematch next year. However the loss in September was a huge setback for the highly anticipated unification bout between Joshua and Fury.
“I expected a bit more from Joshua, to fight a bit more and to show a bit more pride and determination in defending his titles. He just sort of basically handed them over to Usyk, you know what I mean?” said Whyte.
“People like to say stuff to fighters when they lose: ‘You need to change your team, you need to change this, you need to change that.’ But at the same time, Joshua needs to look at himself, be honest with himself and make the changes that he needs to make mentally.
“He just needs to throw his hands and take some chances … if he can change that and dedicate himself to taking risks, letting his hands go, that’s what he needs to do against Usyk, not stand off and try and box and play it safe.
“If he can change that then I think he’s capable of coming in and bullying Usyk and fighting … the way he needs to fight him.”
Regarding his fight against Wallin, who lost to Fury on a unanimous decision two years ago, Whyte said he is “devastated” by the cancellation, adding: “I was looking forward to knocking Wallin out and would have done so in the first half of the fight.”
For now, however, his focus is on recovering and returning to the ring.
“Every fight is a must-win fight for me, and that’s how I approach it. I like it being that way because it gives me the edge,” said Whyte.
“I’ve come up the hard way and I’m still fighting and swimming against the waves, even at this stage of my career.”