By Sean Crose
First things first – Tyson Fury is pretty good for boxing. People have been talking away about the man since he bested Wladimir Klitschko in a heavyweight title throwdown late last year, and that’s nothing but a positive for the sport. What’s more, the towering Brit has made sure to keep himself in the news ever since by pretty much aggravating people on a regular basis. And while it’s true some are far too quick to get deeply offended these days, Fury is nothing if not a provocateur. Which is why, like him or not, he’s (I repeat) pretty good for boxing.
Indeed, this is the kind of guy who can bring in casual fans.
Here’s the thing, though – Fury’s behavior this past Saturday evening in Brooklyn was troublesome. Sure, it’s been getting a whole lot of attention, but there was something off putting about it that those who are applauding the man seem to be overlooking. In brief, Deontay Wilder had just won a tougher than expected fight by knocking out Artur Szpilka in truly brutal fashion, so brutal, in fact, that it looked for a bit like Szpilka might truly be hurt. Even though fans were assured the man would ultimately be okay, it was still disturbing to see the challenger be carried out of the ring in a stretcher.
Wilder, whose known for his own colorful antics, subsequently kept his showboating side in check by coming across as concerned and respectful. It was, simply put, the absolute wrong moment for the Tyson Fury Show. I know, I know, Fury was just doing what he has to do to make boxing relevant in the modern era. That’s understood – and appreciated. What isn’t acceptable, however, is the fact that Fury chose such a time to perform his crazy man routine.
For those who missed it – a subdued Wilder was being interviewed by Showtime’s Jim Gray after Szpilka had been taken out of the ring. Fury subsequently crashed the party, got in Wilder’s face on live television and started smack talking. The whole thing led to some high, albeit ridiculous drama, with both men literally getting in each other’s faces and Fury removing his jacket as if he were about to engage in a bar room brawl. In short, the countdown to a potential superfight was on…and, to be fair, none too soon. For boxing is in desperate need of buzz at the moment.
Still, it was simply not the time nor the place for such antics. Wilder, only slightly less an entertainer than Fury, understood as much. Fury didn’t. I don’t want to call the man selfish but his behavior was most certainly thoughtless. Had the fight ended on a different note, had Wilder won by a decision, for instance, the whole thing would have made for a daffy start to a new year and no one would be a bit upset. Things had almost taken a tragic turn, however, so a bit of emotional sobriety was in order.
Fury, unfortunately, proved unable or unwilling to let things just run their course. He had probably been planning the whole thing since at least the time his plane was flying over the Atlantic on its way to New York. It’s a loud era, after all, and the guy probably wanted to make a splash in front of a U.S. audience – especially a live one in the Irish-heavy northeast (Fury is the British son of Irish immigrants). Again, though, things took a too close for comfort turn…and he should have acted accordingly.
Still, at least in a business sense, Fury’s gambit seems to have paid off, for he’s the talk of the figurative town in the fight world at the moment. What’s more, fans seem to appreciate the energy he’s bringing to the sport. As well they should. Yet fans should also keep in mind that sometimes a degree of tact is in order.
Even in the rugged world of professional boxing.