By Johnny Walker
IF Tyson Fury, as he claims, is the future of the heavyweight division, he didn’t quite look the part on Saturday night.
Fury showed up looking soft and underprepared to defend his heavyweight Commonwealth crown in Manchester, UK, tonight against determined Canadian champion Neven Pajkic, who, looking sculpted and fit, had obviously taken the bout with the seriousness befitting a heavyweight title fight.
Fury (17-0-0, 12 KOs) was in trouble right from the start of the fight, as Pajkic, not looking smooth by any means, but nevertheless determined and effective, successfully negated Fury’s reach advantage by charging him and launching some hard overhand right hands that often caught the Commonwealth champ’s face.
Fury seemed quite unprepared for such aggression, and the pattern from round one continued in round two, as Pajkic (16-1-0, 5 KOs) landed some hard jabs to Fury’s doughy stomach and caught the Irishman’s chin with some more right hands, one of which connected flush, sending Fury sprawling to the mat. Fury got up, but Pajkic soon connected again with another hard overhand right, and Fury was holding on for dear life as the round ended.
Fury righted the ship in round three, and midway through began connecting with short punches that caught Pajkic on the way in. One shot caught Pajkic on the side of the head as he attempted to clinch Fury, and the Canadian was clearly stunned momentarily. Fury attempted to close the show, and flurried Pajkic, appearing to shove the Canadian champ down onto the ropes. Pajkic bounced off the bottom rope and got back up, but received a count from referee Phil Edwards, who would soon play a big role—too big a role—in deciding the fight.
Pajkic was then legitimately knocked down by a hard right to the top of his head as he attempted to charge Fury, but the Canadian appeared clear-eyed as he beat the count, and the fight continued. Then, inexplicably, with only 17 seconds left in the round and the fighters in the middle of an exchange, Edwards waved off the fight after Fury landed an uppercut, awarding him a TKO victory at 2:43 of round three.
Neither fighter was pleased by this result. Fury, who felt his previous fight against Nicolai Firtha ended too soon–thus robbing him of a highlight reel knockout–saw an even more premature stoppage again possibly deprive him of a decisive result. Pajkic, who was given his first career loss on a bogus call, was understandably furious, taking the microphone as the decision was being announced to tell the crowd, “I was able to continue!”
If ever a fight called for a rematch, it was this one.
If referee Phil Edwards was supposedly calling the fight off early to “protect” Neven Pajkic, one might ask why the fight was not then called in the previous round, when Fury was the fighter in a world of trouble, floundering around the ring and hanging on after being flattened by Pajkic and still under heavy fire? Pajkic clearly could have lasted to the end of round three, when he would have had a chance to recover–the same chance Fury received at the end of round two.
As things stand, the ending of this Commonwealth heavyweight title bout was inconclusive. Neither fighter was well served by this very premature stoppage.
In the interest of sporting fairness, Tyson Fury should grant Neven Pajkic a rematch, this time in Canada — in the boxing hotbed of Quebec, where Fury has fought before.
It’s really the right thing to do to settle things between these two rivals – how about it, Tyson?