Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

SPotY 2020 Nominee Profiles Part Three: Fury and O’Sullivan

Posted on 18 December 2020 by Xander Chevallier

Ahead of BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday 20 December, we handed over each of the six SPotY nominees to the Gazette writer who’s best-placed to explain why their sporting achievements in 2020 make them worthy of nomination.

Part Three: Abdallah Abukhattab on boxing’s World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and Xander Chevallier on snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Tyson Fury

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On 22 February, two undefeated warriors entered the MGM Grand in Las Vegas; one man left with the record intact. 2020 was another addition to the highlight reel of Tyson Fury.

He became a two-time world heavyweight champion, delivering the most vicious performance of his career and ending Deontay Wilder’s incredible unbeaten five-year rule over the WBC heavyweight world championship in a brutal yet exhilarating seven rounder

Following their breathtaking first encounter which ended in a controversial draw, the world wanted to see more of Fury, who overcame great odds and was back at the centre of boxing’s elite showdowns.

The record-breaking rematch concluded with a dominant Fury victory via TKO in the seventh round after Wilder’s team threw in the towel to avoid further damage and concussion.

The fight saw arguably the most dreaded puncher in the heavyweight division constantly on the back-foot of an onslaught of strikes, courtesy of a Fury masterclass that saw brutal knockdowns in the third and fifth round.

A victory for Fury marked a monumental step for the 30-0-1 undefeated boxer, since his magnificent comeback in 2018 following a challenging period with drug abuse and mental health troubles.

2020 was a critical year in the boxer’s illustrious career despite only fighting once; his book Behind the Mask: My Autobiography was the winner of the 2020 Sports Book of the Year and his comeback story became a great example of resilience and overcoming adversity.

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These elements combined to make Tyson Fury a formidable candidate for the SPotY 2020, despite him suing the BBC for including him on the list.

Fury is no stranger to SPotY, as the man who calls himself the “Gypsy King” was previously nominated in the 2015 edition off the back of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko.

He also gave a speech on mental health and his boxing return at the 2018 edition of the awards.

Next up for Fury is either a third fight with Wilder, or perhaps a thrilling and long-awaited clash with fellow Briton Anthony Joshua.
Whatever option Fury eventually goes with, the charismatic fan favourite will always attract mainstream interest whether he advances within the boxing world or outside of it.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

This is the first time in his 28 year career that ‘The Rocket’ has been nominated for Sports Personality of the Year, and what a 2020 he’s had.

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He secured his sixth World Championship title in August, becoming the second oldest player to conquer the Crucible

He is now tied with Steve Davis and his former coach Ray Reardon on the double hat-trick of world titles, just one behind Stephen Hendry’s record of seven.

This year’s reduced tournament saw O’Sullivan ranked sixth. He breezed past the early rounds, before having the game of the tournament in the semi-final.

It was an enthralling affair against his long term rival Mark Selby. The match went all the way to the final frame, with O’Sullivan playing immaculately for the final three frames to come back from 14-16 down to edge the victory 17-16.

In the post-game interviews, Selby described O’Sullivan as “disrespectful”. However, the Rocket didn’t let this affect him as he comfortably dispatched first time finalist Kyren Wilson 18-8 to claim the title.

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O’Sullivan made two further finals this year, the Northern Irish and Scottish Opens, and he is always one to give the sport much needed controversy and headlines.

At the World Championships in August, he spoke out against the poor standard of youth players within the sport: “They’re so bad, I’d have to lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50.”

O’Sullivan’s performances throughout his 28 year career make it surprising that he hasn’t been nominated before.

His charisma away from the table is even more infectious than his play on it, and he is almost bigger than the sport he plays. Does the Rocket have one last set of fireworks in him ?

SPotY 2020 is live on Sunday night at 7pm on BBC One. 

For a look at the other four nominees, be sure to check out:

Part One, Monday 14 December: Hermione Hatfield on Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nakul Pande on England men’s fast bowler Stuart Broad

Part Two, Wednesday 16 December: Nathan Frazer-Carroll on Liverpool men’s captain Jordan Henderson and Myles McDevitt on jockey Holly Doyle