BELFAST (September 17, 2011) — In what is expected to be an old-fashioned brawl for the Irish Heavyweight Championship, prodigal son Tyson Fury returns to his roots to battle American challenger Nicolai “Stone Man” Firtha headlining this afternoon’s (Sat., Sept. 16) “The Only Show In Town,” presented by Hennessy Sports, at historic King’s Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The massive Fury, who is world-rated at No. 13 by the World Boxing Council and No. 15 by the World Boxing Association, clearly represents the future of the heavyweight division. He is being hyped by many as the heavyweight to succeed the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, largely due to his tremendous physical stature and size-defying athleticism.
Named by his father after “Iron” Mike Tyson, the unbeaten 23-year-old Fury (15-0, 10 KOs) is a 6’ 9,” 260-pound Irishman who was born in Manchester and lives in Cheshire, England. As an amateur boxer he represented both England and Ireland because his father is from Galway and grandmother (on his mother’s side) hails from Belfast. His Irish Traveller family has a long history in boxing, going back to bare-knuckles days that Tyson, in many ways, proudly carries on.
Fury, whose cousin is world middleweight contender and former Irish Olympian Andy Lee, is coming off of his most significant victory to date, last July’s unanimous 12-round decision from previously undefeated Dereck Chisora for the British and Commonwealth titles.
The charismatic Irishman is winning the hearts and minds of Irish boxing fans all around the world, from the Emerald Isle, to America and Australia, and back to every part of the United Kingdom. “Everything has been really good here,” Tyson said about being in Belfast. “I’ve received a good reception and welcomed by the people. I’m hoping to put on a good show for them. I’ve been down to see a lot of family in Nutts Corner. We’ve all been reunited again. They’re all coming to the fight, so it’s all good. I’m going to go in and do the best I can to win, basically, regardless of how I do it.
“After this fight I’m going to relax and chill-out. I’m going to Atlantic City to see my cousin, Andy Lee, fight Brian Vera (Oct. 1). Next year, or in November, maybe I’ll fight in America for my Irish fans, or fight again in Ireland. I’m not sure, yet, but it should be good.”
Despite his last name ending in a vowel, Firtha also has Irish blood flowing through his veins. Many of the Ohio-based Firtha’s cousins live in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, home of his grandmother and mother, Deborah O’Connor, who relocated many years ago in Massachusetts.
Firtha (20-8-1, 8 KOs), 32, is the North American Boxing Association USA heavyweight champion. Last December, Nicolai extended Olympic gold-medalist Alexander Povetkin, who recently captured the WBA heavyweight championship, the full 10 rounds in a loss by decision.
“It’s been great in Belfast with a very warm welcome,” Firtha remarked. “It’s amazing. I’ve been talking with everyone on my team and it’s like we’re in another city in the states. Nothing against Ireland, but it feels like home, and that’s the best part. I don’t know if it’s because I’m familiar with the area from my mom and family being over here, or what, but it just feels like a bit of home here.
“Tyson throws a lot of punches. It’s funny – I don’t mean to be derogatory in any way – but he seems like a younger but smarter version of me. At the press conference he said a lot of wise things about his nutrition and his progressing as he fights. This is going to be a good, old-fashioned backyard brawl. Tyson has a huge following and huge heart, so it’s going to be a battle and test of wills. I think it can go 12 rounds…but doubtful.”
Also fighting on the card are former WBC Light Welterweight Champion Junior Witter, Kid Galahad, Phill Fury, Ryan Greene, Willie Thompson, Willie Casey, Tommy Tolan, Phil Townley, Dee Walsh, Gerard Healy and Michael McLaughlin. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
FURY-FIRTHA LIVE IN NORTH AMERICA
The Fury-Firtha fight will air live in North America, starting at 3:45 PM/ET, via FIGHT NOW TV in the United States and on Super Channel in Canada.
Go on line to www.hennessysports.com for additional information.