Vitali Klitschko Receives Arthur Ashe Courage Award at 2022 ESPYs
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian heavyweight boxing legend and current Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award For Courage Wednesday night at the 2022 ESPY awards.
Known as “Dr. Ironfist” during his boxing career, where he amassed a glittering record of 45-2 with 41 wins coming by way of knockout–an 87.23% KO percentage–Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir dominated the boxing world for over a decade. Vitali held both the WBO and WBC world titles, and was named “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion” by the latter organization.
Remarkably, in 2008, Klitschko came back from a retirement of over three years due to an injured knee to regain the WBC title strap by making Samuel Peter retire on his stool. Having lost just two matches, both due to injuries, before his initial retirement from boxing, Vitali would remain undefeated during the utterly dominant second phase of his career.
After retiring from boxing for the second time in 2013 at the age of 42, Vitali Klitschko found a second career in politics, becoming the Mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, in 2014.
Both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have been back in the headlines of late for their bravery as they battle against the Russian invasion of their country. Actor Dwayne Johnson, accepting the award on Klitschko’s behalf, called Vitali “a man who will tell you very plainly, that sports is part of the reason he is where he is.”
“Vitali is a hero, who has shown the world what courage truly looks like,” Johnson added.
The ESPY award, named for African-American tennis great Arthur Ashe, recognizes those who find ways through sports to make a difference far beyond the field.
A video of Klitschko’s life story played during the broadcast, and retold his journey from heavyweight boxing champion to mayor of Kyiv.
Robert Helenius Demands Heavyweight Title Shot, Claims WBA “Bungled” His Chances
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Finland’s Robert Helenius provided one of heavyweight boxing’s highlights of 2021 when he destroyed the heavily hyped Adam Kownacki for the second time in two fights on the undercard of the final bout in the Fury vs Wilder trilogy in Las Vegas.
“The Nordic Nightmare” had already stopped Kownacki in round four of their first encounter in 2020, in a bout that Kownacki supporters deemed a mistake, one they claimed their man would rectify in a rematch. Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs), however, showed he was truly back in terrifying form, after a long spell of mediocre results following a severe shoulder injury, when he busted up the Polish born fighter in the rematch, breaking his left orbital bone on the way to a sixth round TKO win.
For his efforts, Helenius was presented with a “gold belt” by the WBA.
His second destruction of Kownacki was a truly impressive performance, and now Helenius is waiting to prove himself once again. And at age 38, he is growing anxious to get back in the ring sooner rather than later.
However, the static nature of the current heavyweight division in 2022, with its endless rematches and long, tedious spells between title fights, is now working against the Finnish brawler.
Having waited long enough, Helenius is now speaking out. In a recent interview with Sky Sports, the Finn expressed his impatience, saying that he should rightfully be next in line for a title shot against the winner of the upcoming title rematch between current champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine and former titleholder Anthony Joshua of the UK.
Helenius says the WBA has mishandled his situation.
“I definitely should be next,” Helenius told Sky Sports.
“Every elimination bout after mine is bullshit! At this point, if we are not designated the mandatory after Usyk’s next fight, we will have only one option. My lawyers are very confident that the WBA have bungled this whole thing, so I am confident in my position,” Helenius argues.
The Nordic Nightmare has also in recent days been mentioned by promoter Frank Warren and manager Shelly Finkel as a possible opponent for the former WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder in a comeback fight this fall. It was Helenius who sparred with Wilder in the lead-up to the final, brutal match in the latter man’s trilogy with Tyson Fury.
Helenius, however, is keeping his eyes on the prize: a heavyweight title fight that he feels he has earned.
“For now, I will just stay focused on training and see how Usyk versus Joshua and my WBA situation plays out,” Helenius says.
“But I remain in a great position for something very big in the coming months for sure.”
The Fall of the House of Fury Pt. 2: Jake Paul Forces Tommy Fury to Fumble
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
“Tyson Fury’s afraid to fight Joshua, Tyson Fury’s afraid to fight Usyk….
“This is why boxing is dying, because these fights aren’t mandatory.
“Knocking out a Fury and fucking up their whole boxing legacy would be fun for me.”
—Jake Paul, “YouTube boxer”
If Gypsy John Fury was humiliated after being called out by Mickey Theo over his offer to fight and destroy any man in his 50s, that was nothing compared to what light-heavyweight “YouTube boxer” Jake Paul was preparing to do to the Fury family.
Tommy Fury, a cruiserweight fighter trained by none other than his father “Gypsy John,” became famous in the UK not for his fighting prowess, but for his appearances on reality shows. Unlike both his world champion heavyweight brother Tyson and his father, who are possessed of rather doughy, lumpy physiques, Tommy Fury at least appears to be very physically fit, with tanned, rippling muscles and the kind of looks more akin to a male model than a boxer.
As the Furys’ rose to fame during Tyson’s wins over Deontay Wilder, and the family became ever more confident of their place at the top of the boxing game, Tommy and Gypsy John made a decision that would come back to haunt them: they would get involved with rising American “YouTube boxer” Jake Paul and agree to a fight with him.
Tommy, after all, had been boxing since he was a young lad, and this American interloper, who was already making a fortune knocking out MMA stars and even ex-NBA basketball players on USA pay-per-views, offended the Furys’ boxing purist sensibilities. But while Tommy (and even more so Gypsy John) began to loudly and profanely boast about the damage they intended to inflict on Paul in the boxing ring and elsewhere, the American was busy in the gym, honing his craft.
Truth be told, Jake Paul wasn’t a fake boxer who could be taken lightly: he was actually serious about this boxing thing, and was learning quickly. He also saw the Furys as cherry pickers and duckers, people who did far more talking than fighting, and thus a big part of the problem with current professional boxing. He wanted to do damage to their reputations, take them down from the lofty perch from which they threw stones at others. And he wanted Tommy Fury, who to this point had fought very carefully selected opponents, to be his first test against an actual professional boxer.
After an initial ring meeting between Tommy Fury and Jake Paul in 2021 fell through due to an injury to Fury (Paul doubted the story), things got even more heated between the two men. And perhaps unsurprisingly, Tyson Fury, fresh off his second WBC world heavyweight title defense with a TKO stoppage of a curiously lethargic Dillian Whyte and now supposedly “retired from boxing,” also became embroiled in a war of words with Jake Paul.
What ended up taking place was a disastrous defeat for the Fury boxing brand.
First, John Fury, looking worn and haggard, issued a statement on YouTube now saying he wanted nothing to do with any Jake Paul fight — an amazing reversal of his earlier threats. He didn’t really explain why, instead just heaping scorn on the whole idea of “Jake Paul.” Paul immediately upped the pressure, saying Tommy was ducking him, and renaming him “Tommy Fumbles” (alternately “Timmy Fumbles”), a moniker which quickly started trending on Twitter. Tommy then took the bait, agreeing to fight Jake Paul at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on August 6. Tommy would reportedly make a career-high $2 million for this bout.
Jake Paul even managed to rope in the supposed master of boxing mind games, Tyson Fury, prodding him to agree to bet a million dollars on his brother. By doing so, of course, Tyson was–purposely perhaps–heaping even more pressure on his half-brother to live up to his vow to destroy the upstart American. And given Tommy’s mediocre recent performances in the ring, many boxing fans were now starting to favor Jake Paul to prevail in their bout.
The rest is history: the pressure mounting, with a press conference for the fight in NYC now ready to proceed, Tommy Fury, who had been in the USA recently on holiday, suddenly found that he couldn’t get on a plane bound for the USA. No specific reason for this was given, and social media “influencer” Tommy then went AWOL for a week (in social media circles, a seeming eternity). A career-high, $2 million payday for Tommy was now quickly slipping away.
Fury’s promoter Frank Warren then gave some ill-advised, sheepish interviews, his eyes darting all over the place as he found himself unable to explain exactly why his charge Tommy couldn’t fight Jake Paul. “He needs to get to the Embassy and sort things out,” an uncomfortable Warren explained, seemingly trying to get a message to his missing fighter via the media. But this only further muddied the waters. Tommy Fury remained silent.
The fight of course fell through, with an exasperated Jake Paul, the historic MSG venue booked, turning to Hasim Rahman Jr., arguably a tougher challenge than Tommy Fury, as his next opponent. Paul revealed that Tyson Fury had refused to put the money for their million dollar bet in escrow, the WBC heavyweight world champion perhaps already knowing that this fight was never going to happen anyway.
To top things off, Gypsy John Fury then blurted out a message saying that his son hadn’t been training and was overweight: Tommy was then forced to come out and strongly imply that his own father was a liar. “If it’s not coming from me, don’t believe it,” Tommy said. The implosion of the Furys was complete — they were now turning on each other.
As it turned out, Jake Paul didn’t even need to get in the ring to defeat the Furys.
Jake Paul, Porky and The Fall of the House of Fury: Pt. 1, Pop Pop, Bang!
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Back when WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury of the UK knocked out former title holder Deontay Wilder in November, 2021, it seemed as if the stock of the Fury clan–Tyson Fury, his father “Gypsy” John Fury, his half-brother Tommy Fury–could only keep rising.
Tyson Fury had now beaten the American, one of the hardest punchers in boxing history, twice out of three tries, and even their first meeting, which was called a draw, many believed was also in reality a Fury win, as the Brit fighter appeared to have easily won the majority of the rounds.
However, since that last fight in this heavyweight trilogy, it seems that flying too close to the sun has caused the Fury clan’s collective wings to begin to melt.
Gypsy John Fury, an ex-convict and former heavyweight boxer who often seems to live vicariously through the exploits of his son Tyson, quickly escalated his already boisterous rhetoric following his son’s latest win over Wilder. He appeared to become intoxicated by his many media appearances, and soon he was making ever wilder claims not only about the boxing prowess of his son Tyson, but of himself.
Gypsy John now began to claim that he could beat many of the fighters his son was being matched against. He also said he was issuing a challenge to any man in his 50s who thought he could defeat John Fury to step up and offer a challenge, and then see how badly they would be beaten up. “Pop Pop, BANG, on the floor, end of, ya bum” became Gypsy John’s comical motto.
Gypsy John proclaimed himself the “best 50 odd-year-old man in the world” when it came to fighting and when it came to virility. His on-camera commentating performances grew ever more hyperbolic, as he bellowed “pop pop BANG” while physically demonstrating how quickly he would dispose of any challenger.
But what John Fury wasn’t counting on was Mickey Theo, a gentlemanly bodybuilder two years older than Gypsy John, soon taking up his challenge. Theo began making numerous appearances on the boxing-themed YouTube channel Porky’s Corner, where Theo–his heavily veined, Popeye-looking forearms bulging –and sardonic host “The Pork” aka “Porky” began to challenge Gypsy John to meet Theo in the ring, with the proceeds from ticket sales going to the British National Health Service.
To make things spicier, Theo and The Pork managed to dig up two clips of Gypsy John Fury getting knocked out during his own professional career in devastating fashion. The two men howled with laughter while watching the clips and mocking Fury’s lack of boxing prowess. “Come on John, ‘pop pop Bang, end of, ya bum!'” laughed The Pork. The man shown writhing on the canvas in pain, beaten down, in these clips was the same man now claiming he could beat any 50-year-old fighter alive? Really?
Suddenly, John Fury became less interested in fighting another man in his 50s. Rumors soon spread that bodybuilder-turned-boxer Theo had knocked out a professional fighter with a hard body shot early on in a gym bout. Perhaps aware of Theo’s reputation, John Fury soon began to hem and haw, coming up with a variety of conditions and excuses as to why he could not or would not be able to fight Mickey Theo. Then Gypsy John Fury suddenly went off the grid. Theo would continue to periodically pursue the fight, but at this stage, John Fury was obviously not up for the challenge.
From there, things have only gotten worse for the Fighting Fury Clan, as Jake Paul, the infamous “YouTube boxer” who already had a fight with Gypsy John’s son Tommy, a half-brother to Tyson, fall through, began to show a mastery of the social media trolling and mind games that had been the Furys’ forte until now, as Paul turned the tables on them.
Soon, the Fury family would fall into almost complete disarray as Jake Paul called them on all of their overblown rhetoric, exposing a web of seeming contradictions and hypocrisy in the process.
Tomorrow: Part 2, Jake Paul vs “Tommy Fumbles”
Klitschko Brothers Object to Dimitry Bivol vs Canelo Matchup; Bivol Says “It’s Sad” They Have Become Politicians. Plus: Will Tyson Fury Show in Vegas?
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Former heavyweight champions of the world the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, won’t be cheering on WBA light heavyweight champion Dimitry Bivol when the latter man takes on superstar Canelo Alvarez this Saturday evening at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Though Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs), a Russian, has spoken out against the war his country has chosen to wage against neighboring Ukraine, the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers are far from satisfied about Bivol is getting a world wide platform to perform against Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) in the middle of a bloody conflict that his country started.
According to former unified world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, currently fighting on the front lines with his brother [the current mayor of Kyiv] Vitali, it’s nothing personal against Bivol, but a matter of principle.
In an interview with the BBC, Wladimir recently opined that “[Bivol should] absolutely not [be facing Canelo]. Every sanction, and it’s nothing against the personality or athletes, it’s about the politics of Russia.”
“Every Russian representative in this case needs to be sanctioned, because this way we show to Russia that the world is against this senseless war and that there’s no good in this war,” Klitschko said.
Bivol, of course, sees the issue differently, and claims the realms of sports and politics should be kept separate.
“All his career I support [Wladimir], I liked how he was fighting and of course I was glad when he won,” said a somber Bivol.
“He is [a] sportsman, he should know sports and politics is different. He was [an] athlete. Now he is politician. It is sad that wants to shake it up and mix sport and politics,” a downcast Bivol told Britain’s IFL TV.
While the Klitschkos won’t be making a Vegas trip to see Bivol defend his title against Alvarez, one face to look for at ringside is that of current “retired” WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Last weekend, Matchroom promotions honcho Eddie Hearn put on a successful women’s boxing headliner featuring popular Irish fighter Katie Taylor at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Irish compatriots such as former pugilist Matthew “Mack The Knife” Macklin, and according to rumor, Tyson Fury himself were slated to fly to Manhattan to cheer on their woman, but Mackin and “other boxing figures” were refused entry into the USA due to their connections with former MGM/MTK honcho and reputed Irish mob kingpin, Daniel Kinahan (“MTK” is an acronym for Mack The Knife).
Fury, rumor has it, was tipped off not to get on the plane to Manhattan. The WBC champion, who recently made light work of hapless challenger Dillian Whyte, was very friendly with Kinahan until the FBI offered a $5 million reward for the mob boss, at which point an agitated Fury was adamant that he knew nothing of Kinahan’s business and split ties with him.
If Fury, who recently bought a home in the Las Vegas area, and who is due to meet with the WBC next week to discuss his retirement plans–which he claims are 100% irreversible–fails to show at the Canelo vs Bivol tilt, the rumor mill over Fury’s own legal status regarding Kinahan and the now-defunct MTK Global promotional outfit will surely go into overdrive.
Filip Hrgovic Withdraws From IBF Eliminator Against Zhang Zhilei
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The stalled career of promising heavyweight Filip Hrgovic of Croatia took another unfortunate turn today, when the heavyweight giant pulled out of an IBF Eliminator with China’s Zhang Zhilei scheduled for the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs Dimitry Bivol Pay-Per-View clash at the T-Mobile Arena this Saturday in Las Vegas.
The massive Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs), often called the most avoided fighter in boxing, had run through a list of top heavyweight contenders who, for one reason or another, had all decided to forgo a shot at the IBF eliminator that would put the victor in place for a title shot against the winner of the upcoming rematch between former champion Anthony Joshua of the UK and current unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine.
The fight would have pitted 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic, 29, against 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zhang, 39, and the Croatian heavyweight had expressed delight that Zhang was willing to take him on. Now, however, Hrgovic is back in boxing’s twilight zone, as Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs), not thrilled at the idea of wasting an entire training camp, seeks a fighter willing to step in for the Croatian.
Still unconfirmed rumors have it that Hrgovic’s father passed away early in April, and that the fighter has been unable to focus on training camp to his satisfaction, leading to this very late withdrawal from the upcoming fight. IBF rules state that the elimination match must be rescheduled for a later date, but boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is currently seeking to accommodate Zhang’s desire to fight on Saturday by securing a last-minute replacement for Hrgovic.
Dillian Whyte Cries Foul in Aftermath of Loss to Tyson Fury
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Dillian “The Body Snatcher” Whyte, who was defeated in what appeared to be a one-sided bout against WBC champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury last Saturday in the UK, is now crying foul, blaming Fury for using dirty tactics and also slamming the referee for allowing Fury to push him to the mat and to rabbit punch him throughout the contest.
“I was trying to get my senses [after Fury connected with an uppercut] and he fully two-handed pushed me and I fell over and hit my head,” Whyte explains. “It was a terrible job from the referee. I should have had time to recover and have time to go back to my corner.”
Whyte contends that the contest with Fury was a very even, back and forth affair, with him giving as good as he was getting throughout the fight. Yet most boxing fans and analysts seemed to see it as a one-sided contest that Fury ended with a sixth round uppercut that the WBC champion’s team later admitted was inspired by now-retired Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin’s knockout of the year, detonating Whyte’s chin back in 2020.
Whyte mocked and derided former WBC champion Deontay Wilder when he made a series of ever more outlandish claims against Fury after being manhandled and stopped in the second of three matches with The Gypsy King. But now, Whyte himself is choosing to go the same route as Wilder did, making a series of complaints and demanding a rematch, though also realizing that he will need to beat another top heavyweight before that happens, if the WBC champion doesn’t decide to stick to his plans to retire.
Whyte may be trying to stay relevant in the heavyweight division by calling Fury a dirty fighter, and there is some historical truth to that claim. Earlier in his career, for instance, Fury employed a barrage of rabbit punches to the head of Canadian heavyweight champion Neven Pajkic after Pajkic had knocked him flat, and did the same to American Steve Cunningham, a former cruiserweight champion who also put Fury on the canvas in the Brit’s fighting debut at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
But whether Fury employed dirty tactics sufficent to beat Whyte is another question entirely. Truth be told, since his victory over top contender Joseph Parker of New Zealand in 2018, Dillian Whyte’s career has been headed on a downward trajectory. Since that fight, Whyte has been embroiled in controversies and often looked less than impressive in the ring:
Whyte vs Oscar Rivas (2019): Whyte gets knocked down and edges Rivas with a UD under a cloud of suspicion: dianabol steroids are found in his blood and an accusation was made of Whyte using illegal gloves that were substituted for the agreed upon mitts just before the fight. Rivas’ trainer Russ Anber is furious and files a complaint with British Boxing Board of Control
Whyte vs Mariusz Wach (2019): Whyte goes life and death with the giant Polish journeyman Wach, taking a beating that actually leaves him looking like the loser of the match. The unanimous decision scores for Whyte seem not to accurately reflect what actually happened in the ring. At times an out of shape Whyte was literally hanging on.
Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin 1 (2020): Whyte is utterly destroyed by the KO of the year from the aging Povetkin. The Body Snatcher is knocked out cold on his feet by a masterfully delivered uppercut from the Russian veteran.
Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin 2 (2021): Povetkin is brought in fresh out of a Russian hospital and still suffering from long covid symptoms. He is stopped by Whyte in a rematch that shouldn’t have taken place at that time.
Whyte vs Otto Wallin (2021, cancelled): Whyte pulls out of the fight with 10 days left to go, in an incredibly shoddy move. He and promoter Eddie Hearn fail to provide any evidence of an “injured shoulder,” and Hearn is downright sneering and dismissive about it. Wallin, who gave Tyson Fury fits in their 2019 fight, is understandably livid. Whyte then disappears to await a title shot against Tyson Fury.
Whyte vs Tyson Fury (2022): Whyte seems off balance and struggles to make an impact. Fury takes him out with an uppercut that he later admits was modelled on the same punch Povetkin took “The Body Snatcher” out with. Helluva punch, but still not as powerful as Povetkin’s masterpiece, which was one of the greatest one-punch KO shots in boxing history.
The question thus arises: was Dillian Whyte prevented from achieving heavyweight glory by “dirty tactics” used by Tyson Fury, enabled by an inattentive referee?
Or had Dillian Whyte been going downhill for the last few years, and was sold to the public via hype from fighters like David Haye, Dereck Chisora, and to some extent Tyson Fury himself, all who went out of their way to elevate the reputation of a man they knew had little to no chance of dethroning the heavyweight champion?
No doubt Whyte will now try to convince the boxing public it’s the former answer, but a close look at Whyte’s recent record suggests it’s the latter.
Boxing Media Struggles with Intrusive Reality During “Strange” Lead-Up to Fury vs Whyte Title Fight
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
While fans can argue about who may emerge victorious this Saturday when WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and challenger Dillian Whyte meet at Wembley Stadium in the UK, one thing the lead-up to this fight has made clear is that the mainstream boxing media itself is already a big loser before a single punch has been thrown. The media has too often shown itself to be asleep at the switch and remarkably incurious in the face of some very strange goings on.
The curious events surrounding this fight actually started back in October of 2021, when Whyte was supposed to face off against Sweden’s Otto Wallin, a rising heavyweight who gave Tyson Fury fits during their meeting in September of 2019. Early in that fight, Wallin ripped Fury’s face open with a punch, the gash so severe that it could have (and maybe should have) ended the fight, which would have seen The Gypsy King take his first loss.
Fury fought bravely, but by the final round, Wallin was dominating, literally knocking his opponent around the ring. The final scores submitted by the judges gave Fury a comfortable win that didn’t accurately reflect what had just taken place in the ring.
As the fight date with Wallin approached, the highly ranked Dillian Whyte was losing ground among bettors: Wallin’s strong performance against Fury, along with the fact that Whyte had suffered a devastating knockout at the hands of 40-year-old Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin in August of 2020 (he “avenged” that loss against a Covid-19 weakened Povetkin in the rematch in March 2021) were the main reasons given for this loss of confidence in “The Body Snatcher.”
The more the fight was discussed, the more it seemed to fans and analysts alike that the talented Swedish counter-puncher had an excellent shot at beating Whyte and setting up a rematch with the now WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
It was then that strange events began to occur.
It should be noted that Dillian Whyte was already no stranger to controversy. When he fought Montreal-based Columbian heavyweight Oscar Rivas in July of 2019 in the UK, Whyte emerged victorious with a unanimous decision (even though he had been knocked down in the ninth round), but it later emerged that steroids had been detected in Whyte’s blood before the fight, and that the Rivas camp was not made aware of this by either promoter Eddie Hearn or the British Boxing Board of Control.
Whyte was much later “cleared” by UK Anti Doping (UKAD), though they didn’t deny the fighter had steroids in his system, There were also complaints about Whyte’s very late switching of his gloves for fight, and a complaint was filed by infuriated Rivas trainer Russ Anber. One boxing publication said the Rivas-Whyte fight was buried beneath a “mountain of controversy.”
So perhaps it should have been no surprise when Dillian Whyte pulled out of his scheduled fight with Otto Wallin a mere ten days before the fight. The reason given was that Whyte suffered a “shoulder injury,” with no medical evidence offered up by the fighter or his promoter, Eddie Hearn. Wallin was understandably furious, but Hearn was dismissive, and the normally vociferous Whyte was mostly silent, a state of being that he would continue right into the lead-up to this Saturday’s title fight with Tyson Fury at Wembley Stadium in the UK.
Whyte inexplicably refused to take part in the promotion for this fight until he appeared at a Zoom press conference on April 14 (Whyte also no-showed the public workout during fight week). One might have thought the first question for Whyte from the carefully selected journalists in attendance would have been, “How is your shoulder holding up?” Shoulder injuries in boxing are often very serious, as both former WBO and WBC champion Vitali Klitschko and current contender Robert Helenius, who both suffered major career setbacks due to bad shoulders, can verify.
Dillian Whyte’s shoulder, if nothing else, was certainly set in the “cold” position during the lead-up to his upcoming bout with Fury, as he continually blew off media appearances and remained a ghostly figure.
If Dillian Whyte’s shoulder injury was bad enough to cause him to ditch the fight with Wallin with only ten days to go, it should have been logical to ask Whyte if he had experienced any problems with it in training camp. But not one of the selected journalists, many with years of experience and awards, even thought to mention it. Most seemed concerned with the usual “buddying up” to fighters with jovial greetings of “How’s it going champ?” and general inquiries that elicited superficial responses. It seemed as if no one really believed Whyte’s injury was legitimate in the first place, so why ask about it now?
After all, that might rock the boat.
This kind of obliviousness, intentional or otherwise, by the boxing media leading up to Fury vs Whyte has not just been limited to questions asked [or not asked] of Whyte. Tyson Fury’s involvement with reputed Irish drug cartel boss Daniel Kinahan, now a wanted man on the run from law enforcement with a $5 million dollar bounty on his head, was also given a pass in this initial virtual press conference. The reporters selected to ask Fury questions studiously avoided any mention of the Irish mob boss, a former close confidante of The Gypsy King.
When MTK Global boxing promotions, a Kinahan vehicle, finally collapsed and shut down entirely the following week, yet the boxing press still did its level best to ignore the situation. When Fury was finally asked a question about his former advisor Kinahan, he looked and sounded annoyed, and said that it was “none of his business,” but what he really seemed to be saying, judging by his tone, was, “it’s none of your business.”
This from a man who once wore the MTK logo on his clothing and who is making millions of dollars from his upcoming fight–which Fury now insists will be his last, in marked contrast to what he was saying before the Kinahan story hit the news.
A jittery and shaken Fury even claimed that the only time he’d broken the law was when he received a speeding ticket, yet spoke during the final press conference of the cocaine-fuelled binge that caused him to cancel two scheduled rematches with Ukrainian world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who Fury dethroned in 2015 during a period of tumult in Klitschko’s personal life.
At press time, snorting cocaine is still against the law in the United Kingdom. But no one in the press caught this contradiction either. Follow-up questions are not the specialty of the current mainstream boxing press.
In The Guardian newspaper, Donald McRae wrote witheringly that the initial Zoom press conference for Fury vs Whyte “was engineered so that the only reporters invited to put any questions to Fury were those intent on swapping ingratiating greetings with him or asking him about his golf swing, his faith or how it will feel to fight on St George’s Day. Kinahan’s name was not mentioned once in over 50 minutes of banality, deception and stupidity. It was a shameful day for the charade of boxing journalism.”
In fact, this entire promotion has shown that the mainstream boxing media has often become nothing more than “access journalism,” a term often favored by scrappy American cultural commentator Jimmy Dore. When a journalist is too afraid to ask a question because what he or she really wants to do is to be buddies with fighters and/or promoters, and to protect his or her access to those same people, then that person is no longer a journalist, but a PR flack. And that is what too many boxing writers have become in 2022: practitioners of access journalism; public relations hacks masquerading as actual journalists.
Asking a question that might rock the boat, that might upset the camps of Tyson Fury or Dillian Whyte, is thus often deemed not worth the price that might have to be paid by the questioner.
The fate of Otto Wallin, who due to Dillian Whyte’s mysterious “shoulder injury” was left holding the bag for a long training camp and its attendant monetary and physical expenses, and denied a possible rematch with Tyson Fury, is of little concern to “access boxing journalists.” There are free tickets to fights, free food at press events, and back-slapping superficial interviews to protect. Oppositional journalism is just not in style, and in fact now marks one as a pariah in the small world of boxing writers.
So Otto Wallin will sit and watch to see what happens on Saturday, and wonder at what might have been.
And to see if Dillian Whyte’s tricky shoulder holds up.
MTK Global Boxing Promotions Shuts Down Over Ties to ex-Tyson Fury Advisor Daniel Kinahan
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
MTK Global boxing promotions has shut down for good, due to its ties to alleged mob boss Daniel Kinahan. Kinahan, who is currently on the run from law enforcement, is an ex-advisor and former close confidante of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs), who makes his second title defense in London this coming Saturday night against fellow Brit Dillian “The Body Snatcher” Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) at Wembley Arena in the UK.
The lead-up to the Fury-Whyte bout has been haunted by the troubles of the reputed cartel boss Kinahan, whose organization has been accused of selling large quantities of South American cocaine across the globe. Until very recently, Tyson Fury had nothing but praise for Kinahan, and had posted a picture online of the two men engaged in a chummy pose in Dubai last February.
A statement issued by MTK Global reads:
“It is a matter of public record that Mr Kinahan’s involvement in MTK ceased in 2017, and despite repeated reassurances in this regard, unfounded allegations about his ongoing association with us and our fighters persist.
“Since leading promoters have now informed us that they will be severing all ties with MTK and will no longer work with our fighters, we have taken the difficult decision to cease operations at the end of this month.
“MTK prospered because we always put the long term interests of our fighters at the heart of what we do.
“Our priority in the weeks ahead will be to ensure that our world class boxers are supported to find new partnerships as swiftly as possible.
“MTK gyms are operated independently so will remain open for the foreseeable future.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. Thank you to all the fans who have supported us over the last decade.”
Tyson Fury has seemed irritated this week when the topic of Kinahan has been raised, though it must be said that most of the professional boxing media has preferred to avoid the subject, instead sticking to rote questions about training camps instead. Fury has chosen to stick to a stock response about “minding his own business” to try and deflect from his former close ties to Kinahan.
“Because I had my picture taken with a man it doesn’t make me a criminal,” Fury said.
The WBC champion added, ” “I’ve got nothing to hide. The only time I’ve ever broken the law was when I got a speeding ticket.”
That last statement would seem to be at odds with Fury’s admissions of rampant cocaine abuse, back when he claimed to have mental health issues while twice avoiding rematches with former unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine. Fury ended Wlad’s decade-long title reign with a scrappy decision win late in 2015.
This week, with the allegations against Kinahan forming a constant looming backdrop to the upcoming fight, Fury has doubled down on his vow to retire from boxing after the Whyte bout, win, lose or draw.
Until very recently, however, Fury had spoken of enjoying his life as a “fighting man” and had submitted a list of five fights he wanted in the future, a list that notably did not include the unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine but did include men he has beaten multiple times, such as Deontay Wilder and Dereck “WAR” Chisora.
During a press conference via Zoom last week, however, Fury seemed to be backing away from retirement, only to double down on his vow to quit boxing forever in the last two days.
Contrary to what he said in March, when he talked about wanting to live the fast life of a Miami jet setter, Fury now claims he has no interest in money, and that he seeks a very quiet life of taking out the garbage and doing other familial activities and chores, far away from the glare of the media spotlight.
“I just want to be left alone, I don’t want to be tortured by people,” Fury explained to UK boxing personality Adam Smith in a recent interview.
“I’m here to do this one last fight, and that’s me, I’m out.”
Tyson Fury Hedges On Retirement Vow During Sedate Press Conference With Dillian Whyte
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The strange atmosphere surrounding the upcoming title fight between undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and challenger Dillian Whyte, both of the UK, got even stranger when the two fighters appeared, though not together, at a press conference Thurdsay afternoon (April 14).
Fury has previously announced that this second defense of his WBC Heavyweight Title will be his final fight, that he is mentally finished with boxing, and after fighting Whyte will be ready to lead a life of decadent luxury as a very rich man.
Yet during the lead-up to his previous fight, Fury’s first defense of his WBC strap against American puncher and former champ Deontay Wilder, Fury was keen to tell the world that he is a “fighting man” who only truly feels at home in the ring. He indicated then that he would be fighting well into the future. That there was nothing else that he truly cared about outside of boxing and his family.
However, after defeating Wilder in a thrilling third meeting between the two men, Fury had a change of heart. After the list of five fights he desired in the future (a fourth fight with Wilder, and a third fight with gatekeeper Dereck Chisora among them) was met with derision–with current unified world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk’s name conspicuously being left out–Fury’s attitude suddenly shifted. After facing mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte (who was knocked out cold on his feet by 40-year-old Alexander Povetkin of Russia a mere two fights back), Fury claimed he was out, done and dusted. Retiring.
So he said, anyway, though it’s probably true that few people in the boxing game took him very seriously.
Today’s press conference was a surprisingly dull affair, with the normally excitable and voluble Whyte, who has been silent and invisible during the fight’s lead-up, and the always talkative Fury making separate appearances via Zoom. Both boxers tended to stick to rote answers about having great training camps and being excited for their upcoming fight in the UK on April 23. With Fury and Whyte not sharing any air time, neither man could really get too worked up, and the questions asked by selected boxing journalists often left much to be desired.
For instance, the journalists picked to ask questions were careful to avoid the explosive topic of reputed Irish mob boss Daniel Kinahan, to whom Tyson Fury has been linked in recent reports in the mainstream press. Only one of the selected journalists brought up the topic of Fury’s impending retirement from boxing, and the question seemed to throw the WBC champ for a bit of a loop. Fury hemmed and hawed and ducked, quickly changing the topic to how well prepared he is for Whyte, and not mentioning retirement again.
“I’m only thinking about Dillian Whyte at this moment, I’m not thinking about retirement,” said Fury, blatantly contradicting earlier statements that this fight is it. “After the fight we’ll think about what is gonna happen and what the future holds for me.”
Another very interesting change of tune from Fury, who as recently as March 1 of this year proclaimed, “I’m retiring after this fight…I have no ambition after this fight, I’m done. No interest in anybody, retirement, baby! $100 million in the bank, undefeated champion.”
Fury said after Whyte, his life would resemble a movie star’s, no longer a fighting man, but a jet setter enjoying ““Miami, boats, Ferraris, Lambos.”
Today, however, he suddenly sounded unsure. Perhaps the winner of the upcoming rematch between Usyk and Anthony Joshua, who Fury had planned a mega-fight against before Usyk upset A.J., will help determine the fighter’s future. The WBC champ has so far shown very little interest in taking on the undefeated Ukrainian cruiser and heavyweight boxing master, who recently fought for his country against Russian invaders, and is now in Poland training for his contracted meeting with Joshua.
In a move that might impress Tom Brady, is Tyson Fury already un-retiring before he even officially retires?
Otto Wallin Camp Fumes in Wake of Dillian Whyte Fight Cancellation
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Leave it to the sport of boxing to find a way to waste any momentum it has accumulated with the sporting public.
In the wake of two excellent heavyweight title clashes recently — Oleksander Usyk’s dominant unanimous decision win over Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury’s obliteration of Deontay Wilder — boxing fans were eagerly looking forward to the next scheduled high-level installment from the glamor division between top ranked Dillian Whyte of the UK and Otto Wallin of Sweden.
Three great fights in a row, it seems, was too much to ask.
Wallin (22-1-0, 14 KOs) is the heavyweight who arguably gave Fury his toughest overall fight to date (Wilder actually only troubled the Gypsy King for a few select rounds over three fights).
During their clash, the 6’6″ tall Swede used his slick counterpunching abilities to confound Fury at times, inflicting two large gashes on the Brit’s face, one above his left eye courtesy of a wicked left hook. That cut was severe enough that the fight could have been waved off, but Fury gutted his way through to a UD win that nevertheless saw Wallin rocking him hard with big shots as the fight came to a close.
Though he lost to Fury, Otto Wallin had arrived at the top end of the heavyweight division.
Since that fight, Wallin has gone from strength to strength, and looked primed to provide Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs), who has been awaiting a title shot for what seems like forever, with some very stiff competition for their bout scheduled for October 30 in the UK.
But now, the fight has been cancelled amidst questionable circumstances, and Wallin has been left heartbroken and angry.
Wallin was getting ready to depart for the UK when he was informed via email that Whyte had injured his shoulder and the fight was cancelled. No supporting documentation was provided to the Wallin camp by Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. Further queries have gone unanswered.
The sketchy details surrounding the cancellation have set Wallin and his camp on edge: a shot at WBC world heavyweight champ Tyson Fury awaits the winner of Wallin vs Whyte.
At a recent presser called to make their case, Wallin and his manager Dmitry Salita fumed about the situation. “I’ve been training very hard, and had my mind put into this,” lamented a downcast Wallin.
“Just the simple fact that I haven’t seen my family [in Sweden] in two years … I’ve been staying here [in the USA], training, to make sure I’ll be ready when this big opportunity comes. I was gonna go fight, win this fight, and then go back to Sweden to see everybody. It’s tough when you haven’t seen your mom in two years (Wallin’s father passed away before he fought Tyson Fury in 2019).”
Not helping matters is the fact that Whyte had publicly mused recently about skipping the tough Wallin challenge altogether and waiting for Fury to offer him a lucrative title bout in their native United Kingdom.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking at [future fights],” Whyte said. “I am definitely looking at fighting Fury and Wallin is a dangerous operator – he pushed Fury all the way.”
Those remarks seem more ominous now, in light of the last-minute cancellation of the fight. The suspicion is that Whyte simply decided to pull the plug and wait for Fury to come calling for a lucrative, all-UK showdown. Wallin is left with a lot of hard preparation that at the moment seems like it was for nothing.
“This is such a big opportunity,” said an agitated Dmitry Salida, Wallin’s manager. “[Wallin] put so much on the line. It’s so important that the right thing happens here.”
“Injuries happen in boxing,” Salida continued. “But there’s just so many circumstances in this particular situation that makes it so unsettling … all we want is the truth. That’s all we want.”
The right thing, according to Wallin and Salida, is a rescheduling of the bout. Faced with a lack of communication from Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, the Wallin camp are appealing to the British Boxing Board of Control and the WBC to seek a remedy to the now fraught situation.
One thing the Wallin camp isn’t interested in, however, is an offer from Croatian heavyweight Alen “The Savage” Babic, who Whyte promotes, to take his boss’s place. Matchroom head honcho Hearn has since pushed for Wallin to take on “The Savage” instead of Whyte, but Salida scoffed at the suggestion.
“Otto Wallin is a world class fighter,” Salida said. “[Babic] is irrelevant. It’s just branding for whoever that person is. I’ve never heard of this guy before (Babic was scheduled to appear on the undercard of Wallin vs Whyte).”
The Wallin camp remain fearful that Whyte will be allowed to bypass the Swede altogether and proceed straight to a title fight with Tyson Fury. Salida feels Whyte has been spooked by many boxing scribes and promoters predicting a Wallin win against the Brit.
“I am a man of my word,” said Wallin. “We have a contract signed and we are supposed to fight. And I will honor that. I am very serious when it comes to contracts and giving my word on something.”
“The redo should happen” Salida added, “but we want to see proof [of Whyte’s injury]. That’s all we want. We want to see the truth, all we want is fairness.”
“And if the right thing doesn’t happen, it will be so detrimental to our sport.”
Robert Helenius Resurrects Title Hopes With Second Straight Stoppage of Kownacki
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
It took a while, but the “Nordic Nightmare” has finally returned to boxing’s heavyweight division in full force.
Perhaps lost in the much deserved excitement over Tyson Fury’s demolition job of Deontay Wilder last Saturday evening was an amazing, brutal performance by Robert Helenius, aka “The Nordic Nightmare,” who destroyed Polish-born Brooklyn resident Adam Kownacki earlier in the evening during the impressive, heavyweight-stacked undercard.
The Sweden-born, Finnish national Helenius (31-3, 19 KOs) was once upon a time seemingly headed for the very top of the heavyweight division. Those such as this writer who were mesmerized by some of his best performances have long awaited the return to form Helenius has now shown during his last two stoppage wins over the formerly rising star Kownacki.
During the early part of the extended period of heavyweight domination by the Klitschko brothers, it was Helenius who most often seemed a possible successor to the Ukrainians. At 6′ 6 1/2″ tall, Helenius had the size, and in his best run, demonstrated the kind of power that could match what Vitali and Wladimir brought to the ring.
2011 was the year Helenius peaked, with devastating stoppage wins over the still viable Sam Peter and former WBO heavyweight champ Sirhei Liakhovich, and a split decision victory in a brutal contest against over tough then-rising Brit Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora. In the latter fight, however, Helenius aggravated a shoulder injury suffered during training, and that injury started a downward spiral that would derail Helenius’s career for close to a decade.
Helenius showed only flashes of his former promise during his years in the heavyweight wilderness when he was knocked out by the likes of Johann Duhaupas and Gerald Washington. Fans of the Nordic Nightmare could only wonder where the old Helenius had gone, and wonder if he was lost forever.
However, Helenius wasn’t done quite yet. After a knockout loss to Washington, he decided to overhaul his training methods, including adopting a new high protein diet, and soon felt himself growing stronger. Helenius recently reflected on the changes he made before his first meeting with rising heavyweight Kownacki in 2020:
“My conditioning was great. My strength was perfect. It’s the healthiest I was in three years,” said Helenius.
“I started a new diet five years back, and I’ve been eating much more meat and leaving the carbohydrates alone. It took a while, but I felt the strength, and my ligaments and muscles, and bones were stronger because of that. I knew I was in the best shape of my life. I didn’t have any hesitation against [Kownacki],” Helenius explained.
Boxing experts can be forgiven for not expecting much the first time Helenius met Kownacki, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in March, 2020. Helenius knew he had been brought in to lose, but finally injury-free and brimming with newfound physical confidence, the old Nordic Nightmare suddenly made a startling return. Helenius shocked Kownacki, using his height, reach, and power to stun his then-undefeated foe with a fourth-round stoppage.
Even then, as Helenius knew, the win over Kownacki would be seen by many as a “fluke,” not proof that after so much time, the old Nordic Nightmare had returned. It would take the rematch on the undercard of Fury – Wilder 3 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to convince all but the most cynical that Robert Helenius was once again a serious force in the heavyweight division.
Proving his seriousness, Helenius sparred with the powerful Deontay Wilder to get himself ready for his next test.
“I’m not thinking any differently than the first time I faced (Kownacki),” Helenius said going into the rematch.
“I’m prepared to die in the ring to win the fight. This is my last couple of years fighting and I’m going to give it everything I have left in my tank.”
True to his word, Helenius in the rematch delivered perhaps his finest hour as a fighter to date. Kownacki (20-3, 15 KOs) now knew what to expect, but couldn’t do much about it, as the newly confident Helenius roared out of the starting gate, peppering the Brooklyn-based fighter with heavy power shots. By the end of round one, Kownacki was in big trouble, and later it would be determined that Helenius had broken the Pole’s left orbital bone during the brutal assault.
The first round set the tone, and though the brave Kownacki would try to rally, Helenius continued to hit his opponent with an array of uppercuts, left hooks, and hard straight rights, peppering the Pole’s left eye, which was rapidly swelling shut. Kownacki was finally reduced to using low blows, seemingly as a way out of the fight as much as to defend himself. The referee mercifully called a halt to proceedings at 2:38 of round six with the Pole out on his feet.
The stoppage was initially ruled a disqualification but later changed to a TKO. Either way, Kownacki left the arena after this one-sided beatdown with his once-promising boxing career in tatters.
After his long period in the heavyweight wilderness, Robert Helenius, however, had proven he was not only back, but better than ever, and ready to, as he puts it, to keep “grinding towards being a world champion.”
Tyson Fury Rips Eddie Hearn for Spreading Gossip, David Haye Also Floats “Not Ready” Rumors
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury of the UK has hit back at the consistent circulating rumors regarding his readiness to defend the belt against the man he took it from, Deontay Wilder of the USA, this coming Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) has been dogged by gossip — that has only grown louder as the fight approaches — to the effect that he has not prepared properly for his first-ever title defense. The final fight of a trilogy with Wilder comes after Covid-19 delays and the scrapping of a proposed “megafight” with now former unified champ Anthony Joshua that was close to becoming reality.
Among those spreading these rumors has notably been Matchroom Boxing head honcho Eddie Hearn, who said in a recent interview that, “I just don’t think [Fury[ is in the kind of condition he was for the second fight” with Wilder.
“He had the first fight fall through with COVID and he’s been flying backwards and forwards. I just don’t think he’s had the ideal preparation at all,” Hearn continued.
While Hearn said he thought Fury would win the third meeting between the two men, he also stoked doubts by saying that this supposed lack of preparation on Fury’s part would mean that the powerful
American might take advantage of a lapse of concentration on the part of his British opponent.
“Is [Fury] ready to beat Deontay Wilder?” Hearn asked rhetorically.
“Probably,” Hearn continued, “but the problem is, when you fight Wilder, as Luis Ortiz found out, you can just win every single round, and if you switch off for a nanosecond, the fight is over. So that’s the only reason this fight is intriguing.”
Likewise, former British cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye has also been stoking the “Fury’s not ready” rumor mill, telling talkSPORT that, “I’ve seen Tyson Fury not preparing as he did the second time ’round [against Wilder].”
“Maybe there’s some overconfidence going into this fight.” Haye–who is himself angling for a comeback fight against Fury–excitedly continued. “Maybe he’s so supremely confident from the second fight that [Fury] believes he’s going to roll into this third fight and it’s going to be a home run straight away.”
Fury has now hit back at the rumors swirling around him, from Hearn, Haye, and others, attributing the gossip to his intentional lack of a social media presence as he prepared for the upcoming fight with Wilder.
The rumors, Fury recently told Steve Bunce of BT Sport, “are because I’ve been off social media for so long.”
Noting that, in order to focus, he had banned those in his camp from posting footage of his training camp on various websites, Fury explained that “when you’re not on social media, all of a sudden you’ve gone on a mad bender! Because, the world is controlled by social media, or so it seems.”
As for the culprits responsible for spreading such blasphemous rumors about him, Fury was direct.
“It’s mainly my rivals whose talk this is,” a bemused Fury told Bunce.
“Now I seen Eddie Hearn said I’m not ready and I’m not focused, but, wouldn’t you think he’d shut up now that his man [Anthony Joshua] has been beaten again?”
Hearn, Fury explained, “has no relevance here in Las Vegas, for me, talking about me. Why does it matter to him what I’m doing, I don’t get involved in his business at all. I don’t care what [Hearn and Joshua] do, it’s none of my concern.”
Tyson Fury is, however, ready to get involved in at least one aspect of Hearn’s business. He has offered to train Matchroom heavyweight and former champ Joshua personally–at no cost –with the guarantee that his on-again, off-again opponent A.J. will win a rematch with new unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine.
“If I trained Joshua [for the rematch], he’d definitely beat Oleksandr Usyk,” Fury opined, apparently in earnest.
“And I would be open to doing it. I’ll do it for free because I don’t need the money. I guarantee [Joshua] would beat him!”
No doubt this “generous” offer from the WBC heavyweight champ was also meant as a sly shot at Joshua’s now widely criticized approach for his latest, disastrous outing: a unanimous decision loss against the former unified cruiserweight king Usyk.
With Joshua Dethroned, Can Tyson Fury Hold the Line for UK Heavyweights against Deontay Wilder?
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
TYSON FURY’S FIRST TITLE DEFENSE
One has to wonder how Britain’s Anthony Joshua getting pummeled by the new unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine and losing all of his belts in a fight that many predicted would be a walkover for A.J., is going to affect the psyche of the current WBC champion Tyson Fury, the British compatriot of Joshua’s who (surprisingly to some) has actually never defended a world heavyweight title belt, despite being a two-time champ.
Fury first held the unified WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, and The Ring titles after defeating the aging, long-time champ Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. He twice failed to honor signed rematches with the dethroned Ukrainian champion due to a variety of personal problems, including narcotics addiction, alcoholism, and depression, and ended up surrendering the belts due to inactivity, failed drug tests, and failure to fight his mandatory opponents.
Fury later regained a world title belt in 2020 with his rematch victory over former WBC champion Deontay Wilder of the USA, who he faces again next weekend to complete their heavyweight trilogy.
Joshua’s devastating–and unexpected by most boxing “experts”–loss to Usyk only heaps more pressure on Fury, the man who many deem responsible for the scuppering of a proposed heavyweight mega-fight with “A.J.”–a bout that will now likely never have the same appeal as it would have before Joshua got blitzed and schooled by Usyk.
Joshua, of course, has come back from defeat before, after losing his titles to Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr., who dethroned him in June 2019, only to lose in a rematch in December of that year. Ruiz, however, had ballooned up to nearly 300 pounds and refused to train for the rematch. But it would be very foolish to assume that former undisputed cruiserweight champion and Olympic gold medallist Oleksandr Usyk is similarly going to let becoming the unified heavyweight champion of the world go to his head.
For now, Tyson Fury now has the weight of trying to keep at least one title belt in the UK–which has taken over from Germany, the home of the heavyweight division during the Klitschko brothers’ reign– on his shoulders. Joshua is apparently planning on an immediate rematch and might take a worse beating now that Usyk knows what to expect. Unless A.J. drastically changes his approach (and somehow finds a new chin!), it’s hard to see the result changing next time. Even Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn seems to recognize this. Usyk is just too good.
So the pressure on Fury next weekend will be IMMENSE. Deontay Wilder, love him or hate him, can stop not just Fury, but freeze out the entire UK heavyweight boxing scene, with one punch. And there is no doubt as to Wilder’s punch power.
Anthony Joshua dethroned: A stark warning for Tyson Fury?
TYSON FURY “MINDS HIS OWN BUSINESS” (!!!)
So how will Fury react to his now changed situation?
In a press conference this week, Fury struck an uncharacteristically reserved tone. He had very little to say about the Joshua loss, hilariously stating that he always “minds his own business” (anyone who has heard Fury’s ranting interviews, filled with put-downs of other fighters as “big dossers” and “bums” over the years, should have been roaring in laughter at that line).
Journalists in the presser tried in vain to get Fury to react to Joshua’s humiliation and Wilder’s angry pronouncements about their upcoming fight. Fury wasn’t having it.
It feels as if, having seen what happened to Joshua at the hands of Usyk, Fury is unwilling to further tempt fate. The shock of seeing his British compatriot lose his belts to Usyk has obviously made a deep impression. Fury kept bringing the presser back to the one thing on his mind: the danger the powerful Deontay Wilder poses as a man who only needs one punch to end any fight he’s in. Unlike Joshua, Fury wasn’t looking ahead. Any topic other than the Wilder fight would have to wait for another day.
If the build-up to the Joshua-Usyk bout was unusually quiet, the aftermath of the fight was the exact opposite. Boxing “experts” had already proven that they don’t know anything more than the rest of the world by almost universally writing off Usyk before he had even stepped into the ring. They reacted with a mixture of shock and embarrassment at Usyk’s dominant performance.
Red-faced scribes scrambled in the aftermath of the fight to try to ascertain why their pick had failed so badly. Some even found fault with Joshua’s ring walk, finding his relaxed air as he strode to meet Usyk while fist-bumping with friends and family unbecoming for a heavyweight champ. Lennox Lewis had his thousand yard-stare, Vitali Klitschko rang “Hell’s Bells,” but AJ lacked the proper seriousness, and wasn’t menacing enough for a heavyweight champion, according to some experts.
Perhaps closer to the mark was Peter Fury, uncle of Tyson and father of another heavyweight contender, Hughie. According to Fury, Joshua had misinterpreted Usyk’s previous bout against Dereck Chisora, where the Ukrainian looked a bit rusty after an injury layoff, and while winning, was at times pressed hard by the veteran British heavyweight (Chisora had also given a prime, pre-injury Robert Helenius a tough time, and even pushed Vitali Klitschko hard in their one meeting).
Joshua attended the Chisora-Usyk fight and in the aftermath of a tough win by the Ukrainian, indicated that Usyk would be no problem for him. How wrong he was.
DID JOSHUA BELIEVE HIS OWN PRESS?
In fact, the evidence going into the Usyk vs Joshua bout was that, as he was when he made his debut on American soil and got battered by Andy Ruiz, Joshua was once again looking past an opponent.
Even a few days before the fight, the boxing headlines read, “ANTHONY JOSHUA: I’LL DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO FIGHT TYSON FURY.” The UK press especially was stroking the champ’s ego, and once again he seemed guilty of believing his own hype — the press line that Usyk was a mere obstacle to be brushed aside on his way to the megafight with Tyson Fury that had once been so agonizingly close.
UK boxing impresario Eddie Hearn, who had just signed Joshua to a lifetime promotional deal, even got in on the act, dismissing Usyk as a blown-up cruiserweight who would never be an authentic player in the heavyweight division!
From early on in their meeting, when Usyk shocked the champ by knocking him across the ring, A.J. appeared to be shocked, if not fearful.. Usyk wasn’t listening to the press. He wasn’t the guy Joshua had been told by almost everyone to expect. He was, despite his often playful demeanor outside of the ring, what Peter Fury called a very “serious guy” and a brilliant boxing technician.
By the end of last Saturday evening, Joshua would again be an ex-champion.
He had failed on two of the biggest fight nights of his career: his American debut against Ruiz, and his meeting with the former undisputed cruiserweight king in front of 70,000 people in London.
Dr. Ironfist Passes The Torch to Usyk
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian boxing legend and former two-time WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, currently the mayor of the country’s capital city of Kyiv, honored his countryman Oleksandr Usyk today, symbolically “passing the torch” to the man who put on a boxing display for the ages last Saturday in defeating former unified heavyweight world champ Anthony Joshua of the UK in London.
Vitali, who amassed a sterling record of 45-2-0 with 41 KOs, was the more feared of two Klitschko brothers who ruled boxing’s heavyweight division for more than a decade (his younger brother is Wladimir, who, unlike his brother, was not present today or in London for Usyk’s victory).
Mayor Klitschko symbolically awarded Usyk a WBC title belt as part of the ceremony.
Vitali Klitschko was a boxing gunslinger, and these days his reputation often suffers by his being unfairly lumped in with his younger brother’s more cautious, “jab and grab” style, when in truth Vitali seldom clinched his opponents, threw copious amounts of punches, and was blessed with a granite jaw that allowed him to fight with his hands held low. His career knockout percentage of 87 percent ranks among the best ever. He held the WBC heavyweight title twice, the second time winning it in his first fight after returning from over three years out of the ring due to a knee injury.
And the elder Klitschko brother was mightily impressed by what he saw when Usyk bravely took on a much bigger man in Joshua, fighting with skill and aggression and emerging the victor, winning the WBA, WBA, and IBF titles.
“I once again congratulate you on your victory and want to present a symbolic gift to you. You now hold four heavyweight championship belts, but you do not have a WBC belt in this category yet,” Klitschko told Usyk.
“And you will definitely win it,” an enthused Klitschko continued.
“I am presenting you with the first WBC belt with a large Ukrainian flag, which was made for the WBC Convention that took place in Kyiv in 2018. This is to make you lucky and motivated! After all, your idol, Muhammad Ali, also held such a belt,” Klitschko continued.
Also, present via video link to the ceremony was WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, whose organization gave Vitali the title of “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion.” Usyk thanked Klitschko for the honors and good wishes and told Sulaiman that the WBC strap would be the next trophy that he collects.
Usyk has expressed the desire to now spend time with his family and wants any rematch with Joshua to take place in his homeland of Ukraine.