By Allan Cerf
Tyson Fury who started boxing age eight, under the auspices of the tiny Irish Traveler subethnic group was born weighing a pound. Doctors held it unlikely he’d survive childbirth but his father, John, knew he would.
John Fury says that, though his infant son was the size of a kitten, his will would prevail.
Fast forward thirty years to December 1, 2018. Deontay Wilder, holder of the highest KO percentage in heavyweight history – was throwing enormous punches at Fury for 33 minutes. Punches which the sport, and Wilder himself, rightfully fears may kill an opponent.
Fury, about three inches from being seven feet tall, had mainly evaded Wilder’s bombs- except a rabbit punch, glancing blow, which knocked him down, in round nine. In return, Fury exposed and embarrassed Wilder- himself gigantic, for eleven lonely rounds.
Wilder also deserves great credit. The odds on favorite, the most terrifying puncher at any weight had fallen farther and farther behind, wondering how a man even bigger than himself – could be so nimble. Yet he never stopped trying. Wilder tried, as Fury puts it, “his guts out.”
Then came the twelfth. Fury, good as he was on December 1, was after all, coming back from alcohol, drug addiction, a weight of 400 pounds and no desire to fight. He’d red-lined his Ferrari in an attempt to kill himself on a British bridge. Good as he was - he wasn’t at 2015 form when he’d shockingly ended Klitschko’s reign.
In round 12, Wilder as we know, landed a terrifying one-two as Fury lost focus for a split second.
Fury went down like a tree struck by lightning. Wilder danced, made his body shake. He ghoulishly slashed at his throat to indicate “he’s obliterated.” At six in the count, Fury stirred, looking like a man who’d hit the “snooze” button.
At nine, to the shock of many, he clambered to his feet, took the fight to Wilder and soon had Wilder in some trouble.
The decision Fury so richly deserved- that “green belt” my editor, John Raspanti, correctly said, should have been Fury’s to carry on the flight home– was a bogus split draw. One ordered by the judges, the commissions who select them and ultimately, the hold of professional gambling.
In basketball, an NBA referee went to jail for interfering in a sporting event. In boxing, such corruption is as common as a catching a cold. What a shame Fury’s effort was tainted in his moment of triumph.
What we’ve learned is what we’ve known for a long time. Wilder is arguably, the most dangerous unarmed man in the world and out of the ring, a high-class act. At 33, he’s far too old to learn to box properly and he’d better seek the big fights – as he is – as swiftly as possible. Fury, with his Irish traveler history of boxing going back generations, is a living repository of fight data and fast-twitch fiber – as strange as that is to write about a man almost seven feet tall and 250 pounds. If he stays out of pubs, he will enter a fight with Joshua or a rematch with Wilder at even money.
Wilder remarked before the fight that he was moved by Fury’s words that if he (Fury) could recover from mental issues, that they could too.
Instead of soiling itself once again, boxing was, for a night, a sport of kings.