By Johnny Walker
Canadian heavyweight champion Neven “No Surrender” Pajkic wasn’t widely known heading into last Saturday’s Commonwealth Heavyweight Title match with current champ Tyson Fury in Manchester, UK, , but his aggressive, no holds barred, fearless style in that fight impressed many fans both in North America and in Britain.
Pajkic lost when referee Phil Edwards inexplicably stopped the fight with only 17 seconds left in round three, with the fighters in the middle of an exchange. This came after Pajkic had flattened Fury for the first time in the latter man’s career in the previous round, and had battered Fury until that round came to a close.
Fury responded in round three with some roughhouse tactics that hurt Pajkic, including rabbit punches that went unnoticed by the referee. Even many UK journalists felt that the fight was called off far too soon, with Pajkic deprived of the same chance to recover that Fury had received in the previous round.
Fury is now talking about a March fight in the United States at Madison Square Garden, and Pajkic– as well as many of the people who saw their first fight– believes he should be the man who is in the opposite corner.
BOXING INSIDER: Tyson Fury told me and a few other journalists that he would retire if you even gave him a good fight. Well, you knocked him down—hard– for the first time in his career. I haven’t heard yet if he’s retiring.
NEVEN PAJKIC: You should ask him what he considers a good fight. I didn’t know they allowed rabbit punching in Britain, man. Listen, I don’t have any marks on my face, the only place I have any I have any bruises is behind my ear, my right ear, and my ear itself is fucked up, you know? The guy hit me four times behind the head and the ref did shit. I grazed him once with the head, and the ref said, “If you ever do that again, I’m disqualifying you!” I’m thinking, ”Fuck, a little hostile aren’t we?”
BOXING INSIDER: As we’ve seen in too many other boxing matches lately, there was a pro wrestling aspect to the officiating in this fight.
NEVEN PAJKIC: Yeah man. The first knockdown was a push, the second was more legit. I was a little dizzy after I got up the second time. But I remember exactly what I was thinking: “I’m gonna swing for the fence and knock his fucking head off!” And I was in the middle of an exchange and the guy jumps in and stops the fight.
BOXING INSIDER: That’s what I couldn’t understand. Right in the middle of an exchange, with the round almost over. Huh?
NEVEN PAJKIC: I wish I knocked [Edwards] out, you know? [laughter].
BOXING INSIDER: Was it him you were giving the finger to in the ring after the fight?
NEVEN PAJKIC: I was giving the finger to everybody man, to the fans, to the judges, to everybody.
BOXING INSIDER: Some of the fans there in Manchester seemed to be close to out of control…
NEVEN PAJKIC: Yeah, fuck. Even then, man, I’m leaving the venue, and I’m mad, man, I want to hurt somebody, and I’m thinking, “I’m just going to knock out some of these gypsies,” right, on the way to the hotel. I see a group of them and I’m walking right in the middle of it, thinking, “If anybody says anything, ‘boom,’ I’m gonna knock some teeth out.” But you know what they say? They say, “You got robbed, man, good fight, you got robbed.” And I’m thinking, “Holy shit!”
And in the hotel, I see Fury, right, so he comes over, we shake hands, whatever, and I tell him, “How about a rematch?” He says, “I’ll give you.” I said, “You will?” He goes, “Yeah I will.” So I go, “OK, good, cool man.” So I see [Fury’s promoter] Mick Hennessey and I come up to him and say, “Give me a rematch.” He says, “Ah, that’s not in my plans.” I say, “Fuck that, give me a rematch, March 17 in New York, that’s neutral territory.” I kept pressuring him. He said, “Now I know why they call you ‘No Surrender’” [laughter].
BOXING INSIDER: Not in Hennessy’s plans? Even Fury’s fans said you got shafted by the referee.
NEVEN PAJKIC: Dude, I am sure that tomorrow will be another day. That’s how it’s gonna go down. You know — I don’t how I let myself get hit in the back of the head.
BOXING INSIDER: Having fought him, what’s your take on Fury now?
NEVEN PAJKIC: Dude, Fury’s jab is overrated. It’s so fucking slow. I can slip that shit all day long. You know, his jab is overrated, but his heart is underrated.
BOXING INSIDER: He did get up off the mat — you hit him hard.
NEVEN PAJKIC: Dude, I cracked him nice. You can hear that fucking thing, “boom.” He hit the floor like a sack of shit, man. Yeah, he did get up — he was doing a little dirty boxing, but hey, a fight’s a fight. Whatever happens, happens. I wish there was no rules. Then I can do everything, right? If he gives me a rematch, I’ll fight him in a cage, do an MMA fight. As a matter of fact, I’ll beat him at every sport on earth, I will put up $10,000, we’ll do every sport! Soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, table tennis, chess … I can’t skate, but I’ll still beat him in hockey! Racquetball, volleyball, what other kinds of sports are there? I’ll give him this, he can probably beat me in a hot dog eating contest. He can probably whup my ass at that [laughter].
But all in all, Fury’s not a bad guy. In a way, I feel he’s going to get used by Mick Hennessey, and just then tossed away when he gets stopped. Because that’s where he’s heading, man. He’s not ready for the big leagues, he’s not ready for me. I know three guys in Canada who would knock him out. [The Fury camp] were lucky, they were fucking lucky with me. They were lucky with [Fury’s previous opponent Nicolai] Firtha. His camp sent me a letter, something like, “We thought what they did to Nic was unfair [Firtha was also the victim of a premature stoppage], but what they did to you was outrageous.” That’s coming from Nic.
BOXING INSIDER: He knows how it feels.
NEVEN PAJKIC: He knows how it feels, you know. But hey, it’s a fight. Fuck it. I wish there were no rules, so we go in there and I do my thing, you know. Tell Fury I think he’s a good man, but I’ll beat him at every sport there is on this planet, except a hot dog eating contest, you know?
BOXING INSIDER: You looked like you were in great shape for the fight, and he didn’t look like he’d done much training.
NEVEN PAJKIC: Oh, they shitted their pants when I took off my clothes at the weigh-in. And I’m looking at Fury and I can tell: I’m from the streets, so I know. I know. He is sweating bullets, man. He is looking at me and he is sweating bullets. We’re looking at each other in the eyes, and you can tell. I’m ready to die, man. Whenever I step into the ring, I’m ready to die – I would never quit, you know? I know if I just try to survive, I could get on the bicycle, throw a few punches and run around and survive. Fuck that, man.
BOXING INSIDER: Hey, you went straight at him. It was great to watch. No dancing, no running.
NEVEN PAJKIC: Straight at him, bro. And the referee was a goof. In all fairness, he should have been taking a point off for [Fury] hitting in the back of the head, and I should be given five minutes to recover. And I would be fine after 30 seconds. I would be back on his ass, bombing him, hitting him like there is no tomorrow.