Tyson Fury’s decision shocks the boxing world.
By John J. Raspanti
The news hit some like a blow to the solar plexus. Tyson Fury had signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank and ESPN. My first thought was, ‘There goes the rematch with Wilder.’
A few days later, it was official--no rematch.
I wasn’t surprised.
The first fight between WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, and lineal heavyweight titleholder, Fury, went down last December in Los Angeles, CA.
It was fitting the fight was in Hollywood, the place of dreams, drama and pathos. Fury even fighting Wilder was something of a miracle. He had gone into a tailspin of self-destruction after befuddling Vladimir Klitschko to capture the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles in 2015.
For over two years, he indulged in drugs, drink, and food. Lots and lots of food-so much that he gained one hundred fifty pounds. Gluttony had become his way of life.
Fury contemplated suicide.
“I hit the drugs. I was out with women of the night and not coming home,” he said in an posted in www.eadt.co.uka a few weeks before his fight with Wilder.
“I didn’t care about boxing or living. I just wanted to die. But I was going to have a good time doing it.”
He struggled on, until he experienced an epiphany on Halloween in 2017. He prayed for recovery and redemption. He felt better. He made a decision. He got back to the gym, and over a span of months, shred the weight he gained. He was hungry in the right way. To box, to prove something.
Fury won two comeback fights (not very impressively) and then accepted a fight with the flawed, but hard-hitting Wilder. Rival promoter Eddie Hearn told the press that the fight would never happen. He whined like a schoolboy who had been stood up at the prom. Both he and his fighter, Anthony Joshua, the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champ, had talked of fighting Wilder for months.
Wilder felt disrespected and walked away. I couldn’t really blame him. He was a champion as well, undefeated, even though being a “champion” nowadays is not nearly as grand as years ago. Belts seem like they’re given just for participating. It is no longer the top guys fighting each other.
That changed on December 1, 2018, when Wilder and Fury threw hands. To the naked eye, the gigantic Fury appeared to have done more than enough to deserve the decision. He boxed well, befuddling Wilder with clever movement and fast hands. Wilder made things interesting by flooring Fury in round nine.
The fight appeared over in the 12th round when Wilder landed two bombs to Fury’s head. On his back and not moving, Fury looked, for all intents and purposes, knocked out. But Fury got up, and a minute later, hurt the exhausted Wilder with a jolting right hand.
One would think that eight or nine rounds of sustained consistency would have been enough to overcome two knockdowns. Think again.
A gasp echoed through the crowd as judge Alejandro Rochin’s scorecard had Wilder winning the fight by an improbable 115-111 score. Maybe Rochin was gazing out at the crowd of celebrities during the bout. Or worse, perhaps he had fallen asleep. Whatever it was, he should never be allowed to judge a championship fight again. Robert Tapper saw Fury the winner by a 114-112 tally. OK, that’s better. The card of Canada’s Phil Edwards would be the decider. The announced crowd of 17, 678 buzzed in anticipation.
Edwards announced score of 113-113 elicited boos throughout the arena
For the record, Maxboxing had Fury the winner by a 114-112 score. Immediately after the bout, both fighters talked of meeting again. Negotiations appeared close to completion when Fury suddenly signed with Top Rank and ESPN. It didn’t take long for both fighters to blame each other for the sudden change in plans.
“Yeah, I’m going to have another fight in between and then I’m going to deal with Deontay the bronze silly c**t," Fury told iFL TV."Excuse my French. Deontay Wilder has been offered the fight to fight me on ESPN and he’s turned it down. So his a*** is twitching. Twitch, twitch, twitch. I’m not bothered. Whatever it is, it is.”
Wilder fired back via his Twitter account a few days later.
“You sorry mu******** We knew you only said this bec you knew you wasn’t fighting me next. you requested a warm-up fight first.I don’t blame you tho, I probably would too if I saw my brains splashed all over the canvas.”
These guys are such good hype masters. The war of words continued as Fury tweeted.
“Get yourself a bit more well known in America first kid & then I’ll give you another chance,” Fury tweeted. “I already beat you & the world knows it & so do you. Must be hard for you that a British fighter has taken over the USA, watch me whippppp.”
There you have it. The rematch is off for now. The promoters and the WBC are unhappy. Greed motivates them. The green stuff. But more money could be made when they fight later in the year.
In his private moments, Fury was probably thinking about getting knocked down twice by Wilder. Promoter Bob Arum was likely nodding at Fury and smiling.
Boxing can be a high risk and high (money) reward. What if Wilder knocked out Fury in the rematch? What does Fury do? Sure, he’d go home with a lot of money, but what kind of future career does he have? A murky one for sure.
Wilder will be fighting in May. He’ll most likely win. Fury will be in the ring soon after. They both win and set the rematch. Or the aforementioned Joshua, who’s been turned into a bridesmaid, due to all the pomp of Fury and Wilder, fights one of them. You see, lots of options instead of one and done.
Unless boxing shoots itself in the foot, the best thing about this scenario is that the biggest winners are the boxing fans.
The heavyweights are relevant again. For that reason alone, it’s worth a smile.