Wilder v Fury: The ups and downs of Tyson Fury's career

On the way to a defining win over Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury polarised opinion. Little has changed as he faces up to Deontay Wilder.

Tyson Fury enters Saturday's blockbuster showdown against Deontay Wilder with a perfect professional record of 27-0, a 70 per cent knockout ratio and the knowledge he has already scaled the mountain of becoming unified and linear heavyweight champion of the world.

Fury's descent in the months after his crowning night against Wladimir Klitschko three years ago has been well documented, but his career up until that point was not the journey of smooth success the numbers suggest.

The 30-year-old tended to baffle as much as he dazzled, inside the ring and out, meaning he remains a polarising figure.

Here, we chart a journey from Manchester to Dusseldorf, then despair and back.

Punching himself in the face

Like most sports, boxing never had an equivalent to football's own goal, cricket's hit-wicket dismissal or tennis' doubt fault. That was until a rookie Tyson Fury, contesting his fourth paid bout against journeyman Lee Swaby in 2009, inadvertently became a viral sensation by punching himself in the face.

That wayward uppercut, which skimmed past a tucked up Swaby and thudded into Fury's own right eye, was in some ways emblematic of initial pro outings that failed to live up to the hype of an amateur standout with the skills and name to become a superstar. He was incredibly fortunate to be awarded a decision win over the unheralded John McDermott for the English heavyweight belt in his eighth outing.

British champion at Wembley

Any suggestion that Fury was a novelty to be chuckled at rather than a going concern ended at Wembley Arena in July 2011, when he claimed a wide unanimous decision win over Dereck Chisora to win the British and Commonwealth titles.

Although Chisora entered the ring that evening in a shape suggesting he had not overly exerted himself in camp, he was also unbeaten at the time. His subsequent displays at world level means he remains one of the most impressive names on Fury's fight record.

Crashing to the canvas

Thoughts of untroubled progress following the Chisora win, with the idea of moving on to European and world honours, were checked when Fury was badly wobbled in his next outing against Nicolai Firtha before being decked by Neven Pajkic as a Manchester homecoming threatened to turn sour.

Fury rallied to stop the supposedly light-punching Pajkic in three but that experience, along with the one in April 2013 when career cruiserweight Steve Cunningham floored him on his American debut, pointed to a weakness knockout machine Wilder will be keen to test.

Linking up with Uncle Peter

Fury was on the sixth trainer of a 16-fight career heading into the Pajkic bout and that flirt with calamity underlined something had to change. Appointing his uncle, Peter Fury, proved inspired.

Harnessing his nephew's natural gifts and keen boxing brain with sharp tactical plans and improved conditioning meant a potential world champion finally emerged. In Fury's 2014 rematch against Chisora, the gulf between the fighters had widened to an almost embarrassing degree.

The Cunningham episode, rescued with a seventh-round knockout, occurred away from Peter Fury's watchful eye – his uncle was denied a visa to travel to the United States. Since Tyson's comeback earlier this year, untested trainer Ben Davison has run his corner. Given how it flowered so effectively, Wilder will understandably view the end of his foe's sporting alliance with Peter Fury as an advantage.

King of the world

The Tyson-Peter Fury team never looked so perfectly in sync as it did in Dusseldorf in November 2015, when Klitschko's 19th consecutive world title defence became an ordeal. He simply could not land a meaningful blow on Fury, who jabbed, countered, tied up and befuddled the great champion to the point of mockery.

His subsequent failed drugs test, a debilitating battle with depression and huge weight gain meant what should have been a celebrated moment of glory became a mere prelude to something much darker.

Now, though, he's back. Tyson Fury - the man, the myth, the enigma. This weekend in Los Angeles, Wilder might have his work cut out trying to cope with all three.