TYSON FURY is facing the curse that comes to so many middle-aged fighters when their desire and skills begin to decline.
That’s the impression floundering Fury, a pro for 15 tumultuous and highly controversial years, gave in Riyadh last weekend.
The 35-year-old WBC world heavyweight champion produced a pitiful performance in getting a dubious split-decision verdict over novice Francis Ngannou that provoked considerable desert scorn.
Those of us watching on pay-per-view TV had the benefit of getting a close-up of Fury’s battered and bleeding features registering a mixture of shock and embarrassment.
He must have felt humiliated having suffered the indignity of being floored by MMA star Ngannou, who had never boxed under Queensberry rules in his life.
Nothing could have been worse for Tyson than to lose face in front of Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson — four all-time great heavyweights who were ringside.
I saw every one of that quartet find out the hard way that by their 30s their ambition had evaporated and their talent eroded.
As the late, great Marvin Hagler memorably explained: “When you are a millionaire it isn’t easy to get out of bed at dawn to do road-work in the pouring rain when you’re wearing silk pyjamas.”
Tyson has had just one meaningful fight in two years — when he KO’d Deontay Wilder in their trilogy battle.
These days he seems to be focusing more on being a celebrity, making the nine-part Netflix docu-series ‘At Home with the Furys’ that aired in August to excellent reviews.
But rightly he suffered considerable criticism for his exhibition against Ngannou, who he was expected to beat with ease.
You didn’t need a sports science degree to realise Fury, at nearly 20 stone, was far from being in peak condition.
As a result he was lethargic, clumsy, his timing was all over the place, his punches lacked power and his reflexes were far from sharp.
Fury has held his world title for five years and boasts of being better than Muhammad Ali.
But amazingly, Cameroonian Ngannou — along with many others I made him the winner — bruised Fury and his ego to such an extent he has never been so subdued after a fight.
Deep down, Tyson must know he has tarnished his reputation and credibility.
A frustrated Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the WBA, IBF and WBO belts, will no doubt have to wait until January or February before he gets his long-awaited unification fight with Fury.
If he didn’t think it before, Usyk should now be firmly convinced he’s capable of out-boxing and out-thinking Fury.
Sir Andy Murray, whose best days are long behind him, said this week he no longer enjoys playing tennis.
If Fury is of like mind about boxing, the Gypsy King will be sitting on an armchair and not a throne early next year.