In his second live appearance on terrestrial TV station Channel 5, Tyson Fury put on an entertaining display against 6' 6” Nicolai Firtha (20-8-1), stopping the American in the fifth round.
Fury started the fight in a blaze of gusto and abandoned a cautionary ‘feeling out’ process, preferring to ‘stick it on’ Firtha from the off.
The first two sessions worked according to plan, Fury obviously keen to make a statement in front a large TV audience and on his Belfast debut at the Kings Hall, worked relentlessly behind a busy, stiff jab that was continually followed up with a straight right. The signs of attrition were telling after the first round with Firtha returning to his corner with a bust nose and a sense of confusion as to how to go about the next round.
Fury followed up where he left off in the second and it looked like only a matter of time before he would dispense Firtha and make light work of an opponent that had previously gone the distance with Alexander Povetkin.
However, mid-way through the third, Fury walked onto a big overhand right that landed flush onto his temple and rocked him to his boots. Firtha followed up with a flurry and Fury managed to grab and hold on for much needed respite. Such unexpected drama would have thrilled an entertained television audience but Fury, the poster boy for Channel Five’s entry into live boxing, was moments away from being stopped and a better opponent would have finished the job.
An exciting fourth round followed with Fury, unperturbed and keen to reassert his earlier dominance, landing big right hands to Firtha’s bloodied face, but the American showed admirable toughness and absorbed Fury’s best shots and came back with his own arsenal.
The fifth and final round began with Fury exerting his dominance and looking to close the show. Although Fury was landing more and was completely controlling the round, Firtha remained durable and showed few signs of capitulation. Referee, John Keane didn’t see it that way and after 2:19 of round five interceded to stop the fight. A thoroughly unsatisfactory and premature stoppage, that left commentator Al Bernstein exasperated, and no doubt, countless others complaining to their unresponsive television screens. (Unresponsive in more ways than one - C5 went off after round one for some UK viewers. Thankfully, the missing action was repeated - Ed.)
This fight, while it lasted, was an exciting, action packed battle that highlighted Fury’s technical frailties and bravado style but the conclusion was ultimately ruined by a poor stoppage. Promoter Mick Hennessy, to his credit has shown great resilience to get Fury a late opponent after a prolonged negotiation to bring in a challenger after failing to secure the services of Belfast’s Martin Rogan. In the end, Firtha proved to be a good opponent for Fury and the end result was an entertaining fight that will have impressed the suits at Channel Five.
The future for Tyson Fury can be prosperous but there are deficiencies that need to be addressed if he is to maintain a domestic force, let alone, make the big step up to world class. Essentially, Fury is a one-dimensional heavyweight that shows up to have a fight and goes back and forward in straight lines. His size, strength and fighting spirit has helped him get this far but to beat better opponents such as Robert Helenius or his mandatory challenger for the British title, David Price, Fury needs to address his lack of movement and show more technical nous.
In the other televised bout, Sheffield’s Kid Galahad made very easy work of forty-year old Paul Griffin. Galahad, displaying the trademark Ingle style, looked impressive, as he effortlessly landed single shot salvos to the head and body, busting Griffin’s nose and dropping him, before referee Paul McCullagh wisely decided to call off proceedings before the end of the first round.
Already comparisons are being made between Galahad and his flamboyant predecessor Prince Naseem Hamed. Kid Galahad is one to look out for and his TV-friendly style could make him an ideal co-feature fighter for headliner Tyson Fury. Overall, a very entertaining second instalment of boxing on Channel Five.