Conor McGregor, the UFC’s biggest star since Georges St-Pierre, is back with a bang.
The world welcomed Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) back to boxing’s big stage last Saturday night as he took on WBC title holder Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs).
The exhilarating championship bout at Los Angeles’ Staples Center produced no discernible conclusion following the judges’ split draw result.
Hailed as an instant classic, the fallout from the heavyweight matchup leaves us with five key points to discuss.
Tyson Fury is back and it’s great for boxing
Fury returning to what appears to be his natural habitat was a sight that whet the appetite of boxing fans worldwide; even more so when he surprised many onlookers by outboxing Wilder for the majority of the 12-round contest in what was his first major fight in over three years.
While the showboating that has become synonymous with Fury was in abundance, keeping the crowd entertained and his opponent frustrated, the Manchester local also displayed tremendous heart.
Dancing around the ring with an air of confidence, Fury opted to take a defensive approach, showcasing significant technical skill and leaving audiences in awe of just how well he was able to overcome such adversity, both inside the ring and out of it, to shine as brightly as he did under the Staples Center lights.
The moment Fury managed to beat the referee’s ten-count and get himself back up off the canvas after what was a powerhouse blow from Wilder in the 12th round will forever be remembered as an iconic moment in the incredible story of the man known as the Gypsy King.
After dethroning Wladimir Klitschko as lineal heavyweight champion in November, 2015, winning the IBF, WBA, WBO and Ring belts, it wasn’t until June of this year that Fury stepped back into a boxing ring after suffering an ongoing battle with depression.
Being able to bounce back from adversity, sell a fight by opening up to the world in the inspiring way he did and consequently perform at such a high level with the fighting spirit that he showed us on Saturday night makes Fury a huge asset to the sport of boxing.
Tyson Fury 2.0: The inspirational role model
In previous years, the Gypsy King hasn’t always been the most exemplary role model, but the new Fury we witnessed last Saturday night has proven to be a humble, professional, genuine, caring and downright inspiring individual.
After realising his dreams and experiencing the highest of highs following his triumph against Klitschko in Dusseldorf in 2015, Fury crashed to rock bottom.
Suffering from depression, Fury found solace in alcohol, drugs and junk food, with the vicious downward spiral seeing him balloon up to 400lb (over 180kg), leaving a broken man inside, who has since spoken about the suicidal thoughts that plagued him.
Making the decision to turn his life around last year and transforming himself not back into the Fury of old, but a new and improved man who has a newfound self-awareness, is not only an excellent achievement, but also fantastic motivation for others who are suffering from the crippling mental illness that is depression.
Declaring that his biggest purpose now is to help people who are suffering in silence, Fury is dedicated to inspiring these individuals to turn their own lives around, encouraging them by stating that “if [he] can do it, then anybody can do it”.
In the lead-up to the Wilder bout, Fury told the Irish Mirror his plans to donate all of his estimated £8 million (AU$13.83 million) fight purse to the homeless.
“I’m going to give it to the poor and I’m going to build homes for the homeless,” he commented. “I don’t really have much use for it; I’m not interested in becoming a millionaire or a billionaire.”
If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.
Deontay Wilder is a great champion and a special athlete
The target of much criticism around being a one dimensional fighter, Wilder has been accused of relying solely on the power in his right hand to win a fight, but why is that such bad thing?
Particularly when he continually finds a way to land it against his opponents, allowing him to retain his WBC belt. The man deserves more credit.
Prior to Fury, the Alabama native had knocked out every fighter he’d ever faced in his professional boxing career; an incredible statistic in itself considering he’s now had more than 40 pro bouts, nine of those being world championship fights.
Giving up a lot of weight to his opponents in many of his bouts, particularly in the past two which were undeniably against elite opposition, the Bronze Bomber still always manages to play the pursuer, which is a testament to his power and character.
They say that styles make fights, and when it comes to Wilder and Fury, there’s no doubt that the two are polar opposites, both inside the ring and out. While Fury’s defence and constant movement was somewhat of a kryptonite to Wilder’s game plan, the Bronze Bomber persisted, finding a way to land on Fury and floor him – twice.
Though the bout resulted in a split decision draw, there was just one second between the Bronze Bomber being on his way to a showdown with Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua (22-0-0, 21 KOs) for the undisputed heavyweight crown following his Fury knockdown in the 12th round.
Despite all of this and his current status as an undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, it continues to amaze me how little support Wilder receives, especially when fighting a foreigner in his home country of the United States.
One can only hope that with the added exposure a fight of this magnitude must have given him, the American public get behind him and see him as he should be seen: a formidable champion.
Does boxing need a new scoring system?
While the fight itself was an instant classic, the controversial split draw result that came at the hands of the judges will forever be a topic of much debate, with the overwhelming vast majority of pundits, fighters and fans, including myself, agreeing that Fury’s efforts should have been enough to see him complete his fairytale comeback and take the WBC heavyweight championship belt back home to Manchester with him.
Although Wilder scored two knockdowns, therefore winning those respective rounds to the tune of a 10-8 score line, Fury outboxed and outmanoeuvred Wilder for the majority of the other 10 rounds.
Landing more damaging blows and more punches in total during those 10 rounds, the Gypsy King also showcased his superior defence by making his opponent miss consistently.
Alejandro Rochin’s scorecard of 115-111 in favour of Wilder has been widely cited as a complete embarrassment, with the Mexican judge gifting the Bronze Bomber the opening four rounds, in which Fury dominated.
In comparison, the other two official judges gave Fury three of those first four rounds, scoring the fight 114-112 in favour of Fury and a draw at 113-113.
This brings about the obvious question: Does boxing need to change their scoring system? I certainly believe something needs to be done.
Putting everything they have into these fights, as do their teams and families, these warriors risk their health, their careers and their personal lives, and there’s just too much at stake to let this keep happening.
It also affects the boxing community on a spectator level, with the public paying top dollar to view these bouts, often coming away confused, questioning why they would bother to watch the next one.
Who’s the real king? Is a Wilder v Fury rematch next or does Anthony Joshua loom for one?
While WBC champion Wilder, lineal champion Fury and WBA/IBF/WBO champion Joshua all have claims to the heavyweight throne, who is the real champion?
The only real answer to that question is that the trio can’t truly be separated until all of the titles are unified. They are all kings.
In saying that, it is my view that even though he doesn’t hold any of the recognised belts, Fury is the man to beat right now after bursting back onto the scene in such a tremendous fashion.
Considering all of the indications from both the Wilder and Fury camps, we can draw the conclusion that a rematch between the pair will be the next step before the winner (if we get one this time) likely faces Joshua in late 2019.
If all goes to plan, we should have an undisputed champion by this time next year, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
Heavyweight boxing is back in a big way.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!