Joshua, Wilder and Fury – Make Greatness Happen
By: Aziel Karthak
Mayweather–Margarito. Jones Jr.–Benn. Bowe–Lewis. Leonard–Pryor. These are fights that could and should have happened but never materialized.
Mayweather–Pacquiao. De La Hoya–Pacquaio. Lewis–Tyson. Tyson–Holyfield. Ali–Holmes. These are fights that did take place but with one or both fighters past their peak.
Which category will potential fights among Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury inhabit? Real boxing fans will hope that they find a place in a third group, graced by Ali, Frazier and Foreman in the 1970s and Leonard, Hearns, Duran, and Hagler a decade later; one where the best fight the best at or near their fighting primes.
Further, the three most accomplished modern heavyweights have the rare opportunity to unify the belts and bring some order to what is presently a circus. Let this sink in: 70 years ago, the sport had one champion each for its nine weight classes. Today, there are 17 divisions and the four major governing bodies have, between them, over 50 belt holders.
In a way, it is out of the fighters’ hands. Promoters rule. From a business standpoint, it makes sense. There are millions at stake and you’d not want your champion to take a loss against a competitor’s marquee fighter. Also, the reasoning is that the more you stall a potential great fight, the greater the demand and the monetary fruits when it finally happens. Not ideal for the sport, but it is what it is.
Still, we hold on to hope of what can be.
When the dust settled on Wilder vs Fury last December, the heavyweight landscape never looked rosier. The possibilities were endless – they could rematch or one of Wilder or Fury could take on Joshua with other to fight the winner. Why were we dreaming? As things stand today, Wilder has a fight lined up with Dominic Breazeale on May 18, Joshua fights Jarrell Miller two weeks later, and a further fortnight away is Fury’s date with Tom Schwarz. This road is fraught with pitfalls though. There are few other sports where the favorite is as vulnerable as he is in boxing. And no chin is infallible. An upset or upsets is not inconceivable. What then?
We’ll all be back to the carousel. Warren, Hearn and Finkel will take the platform and throw practiced rhetoric at the fans, trying to convince us that those were just blips to better days, which will never come. They will do so without fear of a backlash. Besides being the most short-changed audience in sports, the boxing fanbase is, alas, also among the most easily manipulated.
The Gypsy King Returns: Tyson Fury to Defend Lineal Heavyweight Title Against Tom Schwarz June 15 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas
The biggest star in world heavyweight boxing — all 6 feet 9 inches of him — is coming to the fight capital of the world.
Unbeaten lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, the self-proclaimed “Gypsy King,” will defend his title against top contender Tom Schwarz on Saturday, June 15 in Las Vegas. The event will be promoted by Top Rank, in association with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and SES Boxing.
Fury-Schwarz will be available live in the United States exclusively on ESPN+ – the leading multi-sport streaming service – beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
The fight marks the first in a multi-fight agreement announced in February, in which Fury’s fights are co-promoted by Top Rank and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and are a headline piece of the boxing lineup under the historic, long-term Top Rank on ESPN relationship.
Tickets priced at $600, $450, $300, $200, $100 and $50 (not including applicable charges) go on sale to the general public beginning Thursday, April 25 at 10 a.m. PT. Tickets can be purchased online through axs.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts box office.
“It’s with great pride that Top Rank and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, together with ESPN+ and MTK Global, will be able to present the leading heavyweight in the world and a megastar in boxing,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be boxing in Las Vegas on ESPN+,” Fury said. “I always said I will never go to Vegas until I box there and now I finally am. I can’t wait to put on a boxing master class for all my fans. The British and Irish fans will invade Vegas. I can’t wait!”
“This is what I’ve been working for since I was a kid. A fight in Las Vegas against Tyson Fury is a dream come true,” Schwarz said. “While I appreciate Tyson as a great fighter and a sportsman, I am young, ambitious and in the top of the world rankings. I‘ve won 24 fights, I’ve got nothing to lose, and my 25th victory will come against Fury.”
Warren said, “I’m very excited about starting the next chapter in the Tyson Fury story. With this new deal and co-promotion with Top Rank, it’s all about getting Tyson out there to a huge audience, and nobody can do that in America like ESPN. He’s the best heavyweight on the planet and the lineal champion. He’s a superstar, and there is nowhere better for a superstar to have his next fight than in the Mecca of boxing itself, Las Vegas. I would like to extend a special thanks to MTK Global for the role they have played in this exciting next step. BT will broadcast exclusively in the UK and an announcement will follow from them on how UK fans can watch Tyson’s return.”
“All the best fighters of the last decade-plus have fought in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and on June 15, you can add Tyson Fury to that list,” said Bob Yalen, president, MTK Global. “The world’s premier promoter, the world’s premier boxing venue and the world’s premier heavyweight, backed by the world’s premier management team on the world’s premier sports network…It is going to be a can’t-miss night of boxing.”
“Tyson Fury is an incredible boxer with an incredible story, two things that are right at home on ESPN+,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and general manager, ESPN+. “Tom Schwarz is young, ambitious and unbeaten. This fight adds to an ESPN+ boxing lineup that has been packed with Champions in its first year, making it a must have for any fan of the sweet science – and we’re just getting started.”
Fury (27-0-1) captured the lineal heavyweight title on Nov. 28, 2015, with a unanimous decision over longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko. That win catapulted him to worldwide celebrity, but a host of personal demons threatened to end his career before he could defend his title. He blew up to 400-plus pounds, only to author a 2018 comeback that ranks among the greatest redemption stories in sporting history. In the third fight of his comeback, Dec. 1 in Los Angeles, Fury fought WBC champion Deontay Wilder to a disputed draw. His recovery from a hellacious 12th-round knockdown became an instant viral video sensation and the stuff of boxing legend.
Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) is a 24-year-old native of Halle, Germany, a 6-foot-5 boxer-puncher who has not gone the distance in his past six fights. Ranked No. 3 by the WBO and No. 9 by the IBF, Schwarz has fought all but two of his bouts in Germany but has climbed the world heavyweight rankings with a string of dominant performances. He captured the WBO Intercontinental belt in April 2017 with a second-round stoppage of Adnan Redzovic (18-1 at the time) and has since defended that belt four times. In his last bout, March 2 in Magdeburg, Germany, he knocked down Kristijan Krstacic three times in the second round to score the stoppage.
Since announcing the landmark Top Rank on ESPN agreement in 2017, and expanding it in August 2018, the comprehensive alliance has showcased blockbuster Top Rank fights and content across ESPN networks and ESPN+, the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service in the U.S.
To subscribe to ESPN+, visit www.espnplus.com.
The Pressure Is On: A Look at the Heavyweight Division
By: Hans Themistode
Pressure bursts pipes.
It’s true isn’t it? If you add enough pressure to anything, eventually it will break. With that being said, that very same pressure can also create diamonds.
In the case of WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, (40-0-1, 39 KOs) Lineal champion Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) and unified belt holder Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), they all share an enormous amount of pressure.
These three men are undoubtedly the very best that the Heavyweight division has to offer but how exactly should they be ranked? Deontay Wilder is the longest reigning title holder of three having held his title since 2015. How about Joshua? He does hold the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles. He also has faced the better opposition of anyone else in the division. Fury may have the best claim to being the divisions best as he is the man that beat the man. In late 2015 he shocked the world in defeating Wladimir Klitschko and ending his nearly ten year reign.
The best way to end the debate is to simply have them face off with one another. Wilder and Fury waged war on one another when they met in the ring on December 1st 2018. It was a fight that saw Fury outbox Wilder for the vast majority of the contest but the WBC champion managed to score two knockdowns including a dramatic one in the 12th and final round. The final call was a draw. It left fans salivating for the sequel. Unfortunately as is the case most times in boxing the rematch was shelved.
Although Joshua has yet to step into the ring with either man he has routinely faced stiff competition. Alexander Povetkin, Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker and a slew of other top contenders have all fell by the way side when matched up with Joshua.
It seems as though these three fighters are joined at the hip. That trend continues as they will grace the ring within a short amount of time of one another. Wilder will have his WBC title on the line when he takes on mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale on May 18th. Joshua will make his U.S debut on June 1st at Madison Square Garden against the unbeaten Jarrell Miller while Fury will travel to Las Vegas on June 15th to take on the relatively unknown Tom Schwarz.
The longer these fighters don’t step into the squared circle with one another, the more the pressure to win will mount. Not only do they need to win but they also need to do in so in dominant fashion.
With the talent that currently presides in the Heavyweight division, it just takes one bad night from any of those three champions that could ultimately lead to a loss. The fans shudder to think of such an upset. Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury are great champions. Who is the best from this group will be discovered soon enough as they will face each other at one point in their careers. However until that time comes they all must continue to win.
The question now is, will these fighters allow that pressure to break them and lead them to a loss before they get matched up with one another or will they thrive off that pressure and continue to win? Only time will tell.
Tyson Fury To Face Tom Schwarz June 15th
By: Sean Crose
Widely circulated rumors were confirmed on Saturday night when Top Rank Promotions announced that Tyson Fury, the undefeated heavyweight who many feel is still lineal champion of the world, would be facing the widely unknown Tom Schwarz on June 15th , reportedly at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. It will be Fury’s first bout since signing a highly publicized and surprising contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotional outlet several weeks ago. Fury was widely expected to rematch WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder after their entertaining and controversial battle last December, which had ended in a draw. The Englishman decided, however, to team up with Arum and ESPN instead.
The 24-0 Schwarz is essentially an unknown commodity. He has never fought in America, and has only fought outside of his native Germany on a few occasions. Although undefeated, Schwarz has yet to face anyone of note, much less anyone as high-level as Fury. With Wilder scheduled to fight Dominic Breazeale on Showtime this May, and multi-titlist Anthony Joshua set to face Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on the DAZN streaming service in June, team Fury had to look for an opponent unencumbered by the politics of contemporary boxing.
Fury, one of the more colorful figures in boxing, can regularly be expected to do the unexpected. After stunning the fight world by besting long reigning heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko late in 2015, the now 27-0-1 Englishman descended into a world of depression, booze, drugs, and food. Emerging from the darkness, Fury then went on to surprise many when he almost beat the feared American puncher Wilder late last year. Now Fury has taken people by surprise again by teaming up with Arum and ESPN. Few, however, will likely expect any surprises when Fury steps back into the ring on June 15th in order to battle Schwarz.
With the heavyweight division now being more competitive than it has been in years, the three top fighters in the division, Fury, Wilder, and Joshua, are nonetheless fighting under different promotional banners, which will make any matches between two of the three men quite difficult to make from here on in. In terms of legacy, and also finances, each fighter – along with the fighter’s teams – will most likely want to eventually settle all matters in the ring, however. How such clarity will come about, remains to be seen at this point.
Deontay Wilder: “Fury Did Not Want To Fight Me”
By: Sean Crose
“We knew Fury wasn’t gonna take this fight,” so said WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder on Gerry Cooney and Randy Gordon’s Sirius XM show. “You know,” he continued, “we got to a certain point in time when they were stalling about signing the contract that was already set a week ago. When he was stalling from signing that, we knew something was wrong. We knew it was the problem where Frank (Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter) wasn’t answering his phone anymore. You know it wasn’t no reason for him not to answer. We knew something was up.”
With those words, the undefeated power puncher from Alabama gave his take on “the fight that wasn’t” – a highly anticipated rematch between himself and Tyson Fury, which was widely expected to go down this spring. The first Wilder-Fury battle, which occurred in December and ended in a controversial draw, left fans wanting more, in no small part because Fury went down – then got up, from a ferocious Wilder shot in the 12th and final round. Fury, however, surprised the fight world recently by aligning with promoter Bob Arum and ESPN, a move which arguably put him directly at odds with Wilder, and Al Haymon, who acts as Wilder’s adviser.
The fact that Fury’s decision was announced around the time fans and analysts were expecting word of a Wilder rematch only added to the shock factor. “You know nothing was wrong with the contract,” said Wilder, “that everything was good. But Fury did not want to fight me. Fury signed the ESPN deal to run away from me. You can’t go nowhere. Well, where he gonna go? He’s not a champion. He didn’t win the fight.” Fury, of course, has his own take on things (it’s doubtful he’d even say he didn’t want a rematch with Wilder). The fighter known as The Bronze Bomber admitted that team Fury made him an offer – but it wasn’t the kind of offer he’d be willing to take.
According to Wilder, team Fury was eager to capitalize on the fact that Wilder had admitted he was a “free agent,” which essentially meant Wilder could fight on any network, including ESPN. “That’s where everything went crazy,” Wilder said. “We got a lot of deals on the table. But yeah. They (team Fury) went to four fights or whatever.” In other words, Wilder claimed team Fury wanted Wilder to sign a four fight contract with ESPN before agreeing to a rematch.
WBC: Wilder-Fury II “Not Happening Next”
By: Sean Crose
“BREAKING NEWS: @BronzeBomber vs @Tyson_Fury is officially not happening next. The @WBCBoxing has received communications as our process and while Wilder confirmed its willingness to fight the rematch, Fury will take on another fight with expectations to do rematch at a later date.”
With the above awkwardly worded tweet, the World Boxing Council essentially let the world know on Tuesday that the much anticipated heavyweight title rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will not be happening – at least not for the time being. Although obviously disappointing for many fans, Tuesday’s news came as no surprise. For Fury signed up with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions last week, politicizing the chance of a second go with Wilder (Wilder is aligned with competitor Al Haymon).
“You sorry muthafucka,” Wilder tweeted at Fury Tuesday afternoon. “We knew you only said this (a previous tweet where Fury claimed he would fight anyone) because you knew you wasn’t fighting me next. #CloutChaser you requested a warm-up fight first I don’t blame you tho, I probably would too if I saw my brains splashed all over the canvas. #Timberrr #Bih #RunHoeRun #NoSmokeWanted”
Fury, of course, had his own ready response for Wilder.
“Get your self a bit more well known in America first kid & then I’ll give you another chance.!,” the Englishman tweeted. “I already beat you & the world knows it & so do you must be hard for you that a British fighter has taken over the USA watch me whippppp #ONLYINAMERICA @espn.” In truth, an announcement of a rematch was expected until Fury teamed up with Arum. Now the 27-0-1 fighter will have his fights broadcast by ESPN while the 40-0-1 Wilder’s fight’s will most likely be aired on Showtime or Fox, which works with Haymon.
The first fight between the two men went down in California last December. Fury, who was returning to a heavyweight championship fight for the first time since stunning Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, boxed masterfully while champion Wilder spent much of the fight in hot pursuit. The biggest moment in the bout, however, came when Wilder dropped Fury with a thunderous shot in the 12th and final round. To the shock of many, however, Fury got up and finished the round. The fight was ultimately ruled a draw. The WBC demanded that Fury and Wilder express their intentions by midweek this week, as a rematch was supposedly in the works.
As things stand, Team Fury argues that their fighter will engage in a fight this spring before moving on to challenge Wilder again in the autumn.
Frank Warren’s Press Conference Notes
By: Oliver McManus
In front of a convened press pack at the BT headquarters in London, Frank Warren held an hour long press conference on Monday to discuss the forthcoming plans for his promotional stable. We take a look at the key announcements and what they could mean.
Tyson Fury signing a co-promotional deal with Top Rank came as the headline announcement and, indeed, the most surprising. The deal, worth a reported £16million per fight, is a multi-year arrangement that will see him continue his working relationship with Warren whilst putting him in a prime position for a Stateside splash. Set for three fights throughout 2019, just one of those bouts will be on home soil with the remaining two set to be headlining ESPN cards.
The agreement is one that you can’t criticise Fury for taking, the money, opportunities and exposure afforded to him as a result are clear to see but what does mean is that, as with Anthony Joshua, another great heavyweight is off to conquer the American market. Furthermore what with Matchroom’s relationship with DAZN and that of Deontay Wilder with Showtime, the egg-shell nature of the heavyweight love triangle just became even more fragile.
That being said the key quintuplet of Warren, Fury, Wilder, Arum and Shelly Finkel all seem convinced that this new agreement shouldn’t be seen as a stumbling block in any negotiations and, rather, could make talks even easier. For that we’ll have to wait and see. What we do know, however, is that The Gypsy King is moving on over to America to play with the big boys.
Following on from that there was news that Nicola Adams had been forced out of her world title challenge to Arely Mucinio – scheduled for International Women’s Day – due to an injury obtained whilst training. The bout will be rescheduled for later in the year. This, combined with the cancellation of February 23rd’s show, saw a change to the makeup of that Royal Albert Hall card. Principally was the fact Anthony Yarde’s bout against Travis Reeves now finds itself taking place on March 8th.
Despite the repeated claims of Warren at the conference, Anthony Yarde is neither ranked #1 nor the mandatory challenger to, WBO champion, Sergey Kovalev with the unbeaten prospect slotting in at #2. The imperious physique of Yarde has seen him amass a record of 17 wins, 16 via knockout, without defeat but the opponents en route have been more than questionable. Tony Averlant, Dariusz Sek and Walter Sequeira are the trio of opponents to step into the ring with Yarde throughout 2018.
Reeves, then, is seen as a step up by way of the fact he fought, former European Champion, Karo Murat in the early stages of last year but this is another fight in which Yarde should find himself unrivalled.
With Yarde off the Leicester card, rescheduled for March 23rd, that bill will now be headlined by Sam Bowen’s maiden British title defense. The super featherweight has been slated to defend against Ronnie Clark on two occasions but both times the fight has been kiboshed owing to a Clark injury. It is believed Warren initially tried to get Craig Evans brought in as a replacement but the lightweight, WBO European champion, didn’t get the all clear from the British Boxing Board of Control. Ryan Wheeler was then approved for a shot at the title but, as of publishing, no opponent has been confirmed for the new date.
Sam Maxwell will contest his first title on the show when he faces Kelvin Dotel for the WBO European Super Lightweight title. Maxwell, a former GB Lionhearts representative in the World Series of Boxing, has made an impressive start to life in the pro ranks with ten emphatic victories. Nathan Gorman continues to be touted for a prospect-vs-prospect fight with Daniel Dubois and he’ll kick off 2019 in Leicester looking to be build an appetite for that particular fight.
The final announcement regarded the future of Billy Joe Saunders with the WBOs 160lbs mandatory challenger opting to step up in weight and contest the vacant super-middleweight title. That title became vacant when Gilberto Ramirez opted to step up to 175lbs, in doing so dethroning Yarde at the top of the rankings, although the Mexican has subsequently claimed he did not step away from the belt.
Nonetheless, as it stands, Saunders will be up against Shefat Isufi – a 29 year old German resident – who is the organization’s Intercontinental champion. Looking at his record won’t fill you with much optimism as to his ability – opponent after opponent littered with losses – and nor will watching any footage of his fights. I don’t think anyone is expecting anything but an easy night of work for Saunders.
Rather ironically the contest is taking place at Wembley Arena on April 13th which makes it 1-0 to Warren on delivering “big fights” at Wembley in 2019.
Wilder Reacts to Fury’s Top Rank Deal
By: Michael Kane
The boxing world was expecting the rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury to be sealed this week. Negotiations have taken a twist it would seem after the announcement that Tyson Fury has signed a co promotion deal with Top Rank.
The general feeling is that negotiations will prove difficult with Top Rank aligned to ESPN and Wilder being represented by Al Haymon who runs PBC. With the last fight being shown on Showtime, there was an expectation that the rematch would be shown on Showtime too.
However, that may not be the case as Wilder told ThaBoxingVoice: “If anything, it makes the fight better, it don’t hurt the fight.
“If anything it hurts the other competition with Joshua, that Fury’s signing with ESPN. He [Joshua] is with DAZN, it don’t really affect me.
“At the end of the day, if he wants to fight, then he’s gonna fight. If not, then we’ll move onto the next one. We have enough guys in the stable that we can fight for the next two years.
“When it comes to America, there’s only one American that’s dominant and that’s Deontay Wilder.”
Despite being represented by Al Haymon, Wilder claims he doesn’t have any deals specifically with PBC, Showtime or FOX.
When asked if he would fight on ESPN, Wilder replied, “Of course, it’s always where the money is, is gonna be right.
“I’m a free agent, I can fight anyone, I don’t necessarily have to fight on the networks that I’m on, I can fight anywhere.
“The rematch is still on the table for him if he wants it. If he don’t may God be with him.”
In the event the rematch doesn’t take place on the rumored date of May 18th, Wilder is still aiming to fight on that date.
Wilder stated: “We’re doing our own thing, we’re still gonna have that date. Who knows who it’s gonna be?
“It could be [Dominic] Breazeale, it could be [Adam] Kownacki, it could be [Dillian] Whyte.”
Top Rank supremo Bob Arum believes Fury now has a better negotiation stance than he did last week. The WBC ordered a 60-40 split in favor of their champ Deontay Wilder and even if Top Rank win the purse bid, Wilder will earn more.
Speaking with BoxingScene.com Arum said, “(the purse bid) doesn’t factor into it at all, the WBC wants the fight to happen. Good luck to them but we don’t need them to tell us how the purses should be. That’ll come with reasonable negotiations.”
Arum also distanced himself from the rumored May 18th date at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn which seemed set to be announced only days ago.
“Well, there’s no magic in May 18th,” Arum said. “That’s just one day of the year. When it comes time to pick a date for the fight, as long as the fight happen, what difference does it make if it’s in June? Or where it is. I mean, obviously, Las Vegas would be a good place for it and there are other good places for it. But, I mean, that’s to be decided when the time comes.”
Tyson Fury and the Heavyweight Alliances
By: Hans Themistode
When news broke of Tyson Fury’s (27-0-1, 19 KOs) mega deal with Top Rank worth 80 million dollars over his next five fights it sent the boxing in a frenzy. Reason being is that it was so unexpected.
Fury, who is the Lineal Heavyweight champion was thought to be in deep discussion with WBC champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) for a rematch of their 2018, December showdown. That contest saw two knockdowns and plenty of back and forth action. The match would ultimately end in a highly debated draw which had the fans wanting to see them jump back in the ring against each other once again. News of this new deal complicates matters to a certain degree.
Photo Credit: Tyson Fury Twitter Account
Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and current unified champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) are the very best in the Heavyweight division. All three fighters are also affiliated with three separate networks that don’t exactly play nice with one another.
Wilder is associated with Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions, Joshua is aligned with Eddie Hearn and DAZN while Fury is now apart of Bob Arum and ESPN.
The news of Fury’s deal is even more perplexing to fans when you consider that Top Rank has no big name Heavyweights that can truly challenge him. Wilder has Dominic Breazeale, Luis Ortiz, the undefeated Adam Kownacki and several others who can provide fun entertaining matchups for the fans. Joshua has quite a few interesting dance partners as well. Dereck Chisora, Jarrell Miller (whom he is fighting June 1st) former unified Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, a rematch with Dillian Whyte and plenty of others can provide a stiff test for Joshua.
Fury on the other hand has a considerably shorter list. In fact it is non existent. One time title challenger Bryant Jennings would represent the best challenge to Fury from the Top Rank stable. With all due respect to Jennings but he fails to move the needle as a true title contender.
Deontay Wilder is a proven knockout artist with a ton of charisma. Anthony Joshua also has a penchant for knockouts but he also has major drawing power as well. Tyson Fury possesses all of those traits and more. He is must see television. Furys deal with Top Rank and ESPN should be applauded as he has seemingly set his family up financially for years to come but the bottom line is that fans want to see him take on the best that the division has to offer.
Both Fury and his new promoter Bob Arum have assured the public that this new alliance will not do away with their plans of hammering out a deal with Wilder to secure their much anticipated rematch. Let’s all hope that these words ring true.
If all three of these networks can somehow work together then fans can finally get there long awaited question answered.
Just who is the king of the Heavyweight division?
Fury Catches Fight World By Surprise, Aligns With Top Rank Promotions
By: Sean Crose
In a move that has clearly taken the boxing world by surprise, Tyson Fury, the man many still consider to be the lineal heavyweight champion of the world, has signed on with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions. What makes this decision by Fury particularly surprising is the fact that discussions for a rematch between he and WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder, who Fury fought to a wild draw last December, have reportedly been going quite well. Now that Fury has aligned himself with Arum, who arguably is the arch rival of Wilder adviser Al Haymon, the rematch situation appears cloudy – at least for now. Also curious is the fact that Arum has no other top heavyweight in his stable.
“Tyson Fury, one of the world’s most dynamic and popular heavyweight boxers, and Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren are joining forces with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank,” ESPN claimed in a press release. “The agreement will mean that Fury will be a headline part of the boxing lineup under the historic, long-termTop Rank on ESPN relationship.” Fury’s management company, Mack the Knife, or MTK as it’s more commonly known, also weighed in on the matter. “After intense negotiations between MTK Global, Queensberry Promotions, Top Rank and ESPN,” the company claimed, “Fury’s future fights will be co-promoted across BT Sports in the UK and ESPN networks and ESPN+ after landmark agreement was penned by Top Rank and Queensberry Promotions.”
Fury, an enormous, colorful Englishman, has stunned the fight world before. At the end of 2015, he bested long standing champion Wladimir Klitshcko in Germany, to wrest the heavyweight crown off the Ukranian’s head. It was a fight few felt Fury could win, but his awkward, frustrating style clearly baffled Kltischko and ended up carrying the day the for the outspoken contender. After his great victory, however, Fury delved into a world of booze, drugs, food, and depression…only to finally emerge after two years and two tuneup fights to face the hard hitting American, Wilder. Even in the Wilder fight, Fury managed to stun people. He was dropped by a thunderous shot in the final round…only to get up off the mat and to close the bout in competitive fashion.
With this latest news dropping, Fury once again has fans and analysts scratching their collective heads. Top Rank, however, is an esteemed, and powerful promotional outlet, helmed by the iconic, controversial, and wildly successful Arum, so it’s not as if Fury has gone off and signed with an obscure entity. Time will tell the tale.
Heavyweight Boxing – Out of the Crossroads and Into the Light
By: Aziel Karthak
A thundering right and a follow up left from the most potent hands in boxing dropped Tyson Fury in the 12th round of the WBC heavyweight title fight in December. The die seemed cast. But the hulking Englishman rose up from the canvas, before the fat lady could belt out the first note and just after Referee Jack Reiss had counted “nine.” In a way, his astonishing recovery mirrored the revival of heavyweight boxing in recent times.
The sport overall is healthier than people give it credit. The middleweights have Canelo and Golovkin. Below them in a range of weight divisions are refulgent talents such as Terrence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, Mikey Garcia and the incredible Vasily Lomachenko. Old hands like Pacquiao are still around. Yet, it is the heavyweights, or rather DeontayWilder’s classic with Fury that was the apex of 2018.
Sometimes, we make too much of too little. Yet, it’s understandable in this case. For so long, the heavyweight division was the most important in boxing, though fans of Sugar Ray Robinson and Marvin Hagler may take umbrage. To be heavyweight champion was to be the most famous sportsman on the planet.
So, what happened in the 21st century that made the division so forgettable? Was it lack of skill? Was it lack of personality? Was it both? The Klitschko brothers were doubtless amazing, albeit robotic fighters, even if the competition around them left a lot to be desired. Alas, they did not have the fighting style or the controversy to keep the division at par with what the likes of Pacquiao and Mayweather were doing do in the lighter weights. Yet, their most damning issue was the comparison against what came before in the division.
The 1970s had Ali, Frazier and Foreman as champions and a rung below them were accomplished fighters such as Norton, Quarry and Bonevena who were capable of holding their own against anyone. Between them Ali, Frazier and Foreman fought each other a combined six times, some of them wars that are indelible marks on the game’s history. Norton himself fought Ali to three close fights, winning one in the process.
The closest decade to the 1970s in terms of genuinely skilled heavyweights at or close to their prime was the 1990s. There was Holyfield, Bowe and Lewis, with Tyson missing for a large part of the first half of the decade. The one issue with this lot was that, apart from Holyfield who fought the other three a combined seven times, the rest did not meet each other in their primes. By the time Lewis knocked out Tyson in 2002, the latter was a mere shadow of the wrecking ball that had terrorized admittedly average competition in the 1980s. (You can argue Tyson was never the same after he fired Kevin Rooney late in the decade.)
The first 15 years of the new millennium had very few memorable heavyweight fights. Lewis-Tyson was 10 years too late and Lewis–Vitali Klitschko was a case of what could have been. Then suddenly out of the blue like an Ali short right, we were blessed with the surprisingly good Joshua–Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 that provided gasoline to the flickering embers of heavyweight boxing.
The current generation has it in them to make the next few years a special time in what is historically the blue-riband division of the sweet science. For one, as Fury and Wilder showed, they are willing to fight each other. Is Joshua willing to dance with them like he did with Wladimir? Chances are, he is, but boxing promoters have always sought to protect their golden geese from the time of Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey.
Joshua remains the most marketable – a good-looking and seemingly well-mannered champion, who has three of the four belts and is the youngest of the triumvirate. The matchmaking though sometimes embarrassing is understandable in this day and age. How wonderful would it be though, if his handlers just bit the bullet and put him in against any of the other two?
What’s amazing to note is that the two Englishmen and the American have never lost in the combined 91 times they’ve stepped into the ring. Also, that the division’s health is peachy is reflected by the competition immediately below them. The likes of Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz are hardly cans and have the skills and the styles to give anyone fits.
Said the immortal Rocky Marciano after besting Jersey Joe Walcott to win the heavyweight crown in 1952, “What could be better than walking down any street in any city and knowing you’re the heavyweight champion of the world?”
The answer may still be “nothing” as long as today’s promoters stay out of the way and let these warriors at each other. We shall wait and hope.
WBC Orders Wilder-Fury Rematch
By: Sean Crose
As expected, the World Boxing Council is ordering a rematch between it’s heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury, the man he fought to a draw last December in what is already being considered a classic bout. Per the WBC:
“Consistent with the WBC Board of governors voting regarding the direct rematch between WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, the WBC is hereby notifying both camps that the free negotiation period is opened and if there is no agreement between the parties a purse bid will be conducted by the WBC on Tuesday February 5th .
The WBC has modified the 70-30 split and has confirmed a 60-40 split in favor of the champion Wilder considering the market value of Fury.”
The announcement, which arrived on Thursday, came as little surprise to the fight world. In fact, talks between the two camps are already reported to have begun. The first battle between the two undefeated giants was truly a contest of skill and will, as the slippery Fury was able to avoid the hard hitting Wilder for large portions of the fight – until being dropped twice. The second knockdown, which occurred in the last round, say Fury flat on his back, seemingly done. Somehow, however, the enormous Englishman was able to get back on his feet and finish the round strongly.
The fight, of course, ended up being a draw, with many – though certainly not all – feeling that Fury had done enough to win. The controversy, coupled with the wild knockdown and recovery of Fury after over half an hour of the two fighters essentially playing cat and mouse, almost begged for a rematch. To make things even more enticing, the two larger than life heavyweights, who stand between six and a half and seven feet tall, have personalities to match their statures.
Lost in all of this is heavyweight multi-titlist Anthony Joshua, who, like Fury, is an undefeated Englishman. A staggeringly huge draw in his native country, Joshua has yet to fight in America, where the second Wilder-Fury fight, if it comes to fruition, may likely take place. Although Joshua holds most of the major titles in the division, Wilder’s WBC belt is arguably the most well regarded and well known. On top of that, Fury has a claim to the lineal championship due to the fact that he bested long reigning heavyweight king Wladimir Klitshcko in 2015, making Fury “the man who beat the man.” In other words, there’s no undisputed ruler of the heavyweights at the moment, which makes the once bland weight category more intriguing and interesting than it has been in perhaps a generation.
Boxing’s Hard Problem: Observations from the Wilder Fury Fight
By: Rahat Haque
Any new fan who becomes interested in boxing learns quickly that the sport is immensely subjective in nature, and that judges take a lot of heat regularly for controversial decisions. It makes sense then, to score every fight, as you would want a basis of comparison in case there was public outrage over a decision. Learning the art of scoring and then practicing it via judging fights gives the viewer a certain weight of expert authority compared to the fan who does not partake in judging. However, it does not address the root cause of controversial decisions, which arise because of varied opinions between judges and fans alike. It does not address the issues of subjectivity, which permeates the sport. As long as there is boxing, there will be subjectivity.
One should try to be a human compubox, keeping a mental tab of punch count. But no one ever gives you straight answer on how to assign weightage to the quality of punches. Should a light jab be worth ¼ of a more thudding power shot such as a hook or cross? Should a cleanly landed punch be worth twice than that of a punch landed half landed and half absorbed the glove? We do not have such conversations in boxing, that is, the quantifying of something that is supposedly subjective. But without a quantitative framework, we cannot continue to act as if there is a right or wrong score. This is a real problem of boxing which never is discussed, as it exposes the sweet science’s lack of scientific rigor when it comes to assessing performance. When scoring fights, one should also consider the three other main factors in scoring, namely: aggression, ring generalship and defense. But again, it is absolutely shocking how certain media personalities will simply say that judges favor one over another, when in reality, they are supposed to take all three into account! One can even hear Max Kellerman say, that the way to score a round is to assess “who would you rather be in that round”. It is as subjective a criterion as there could be! It is madness.
Let us turn our attention to the fight that took place on Dec 1st. Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury. I scored it 114-112 for Wilder. Does that shock you? Well, if you did not score the fight, and 99% of the viewers do not profess to have any method which they use to score, then you must forfeit your right to be shocked. In a round by round sport, it is critical that one assesses a winner for every round. If one do not participate in this process, then they check in their right to be shocked at another scorecard at the door. If one did score the fight, then the next logical question arises: what was the criteria of scoring? To which, there is no universal agreement.
I gave rounds 1, 2, 4,9,11 and 12 to Wilder. Rounds 9 and 12 of course were 10-8 rounds because of the knockdowns. Hence, my score was 114-112 to The Bronze Bomber Deontay Wilder. I thought I would find some commonality with my scoresheet and Alejandro Rochin’s scoresheet, the only judge who had it for Wilder. While he gave all first four rounds to Wilder, to my surprise, he gave rounds 8 and 9 to Wilder as well! This is not the first such case either where a judge who scored it the same as me had different rounds for different fighters. This demonstrates the subjectivity that exists even amongst judges who have the same result.
As long as we have the three judge panel, we will continue to have decisions that people will disagree with. Whether it is a classified a robbery or not depends the percentage of people who did not agree with the decision. What this also means is that there are “robberies” every weekend in the perspective of those who are in the less popular cohort of a decision. The solution to all this, if there needs to be one, is another matter. Perhaps I will write a piece in the future about how to reduce the subjectivity in scores in boxing, thus ensuring a more accepted and trusted method agreed upon by all. However, let us assume for a minute that nothing is going to change. What is the best scenario in such a case? If things continue the way they are now, one hopes that every fan embraces the subjectivity of the score and takes it upon themselves to score the fight. Is that what is happening now? No. Does the media play a role in swaying the fans one way or another? Yes, most vehemently!
The boxing media despite being in the same ecosystem as everyone other stakeholder of the sport, seem to think that they are beyond subjectivity. We can argue about our scorecards, if you also happened to score the fight. Like with the Wilder-Fury fight, we can go back and forth as to why scored a certain round for a certain fighter. But to say that one party is somehow committing a grave sin if they do not agree with another is unacceptable! Yet, that is precisely what the Showtime commentators did for the whole fight. They all seemed to be in unison over Fury’s success, which is all right. But to then impose their own subjectivity to the whole world as the real McCoy was not right. It surely swayed many fans who might have been otherwise on the fence. Many of those fans then surely parroted what they heard on their TV screens, thus enhancing the drumbeat of the robbery narrative. The Wilder Fury fight was only one example of course. This will continue to happen unless we all first address the hard problem of boxing, the subjectivity of scoring.
© Roey Haque
Better Chance of Joshua Fighting Fury than Wilder According to Hearn
By: Michael Kane
According to Matchroom supremo, Eddie Hearn, there is more chance of Anthony Joshua fighting Tyson Fury at Wembley in April than a fight against WBC champ Deontay Wilder.
It would seem tentative negotiations are taking place between all the interested parties, with a match up between any two of the three likely to be welcomed by fans.
As it stands the most likely fight to take place is a rematch between Wilder and Fury, with Las Vegas or New York appearing to be the favoured locations, disappointing the UK fans who had hoped for the rematch in one of the UK’s football stadiums.
Hearn however has said both Wilder and Fury have been offered the fight with Joshua.
“Well, to say Deontay Wilder’s camp has gone quiet, that’s saying it lightly,” Hearn told Sky Sports News. “Probably up to six unanswered emails now.
“In fact, I sent one a couple of days ago, saying I just want to check these haven’t gone into your Spam items.
“It is frustrating because you walk out there on the street ‘When’s he going to fight Deontay Wilder?’ It’s like, whenever they want it, but sometimes the public want to believe a fighter on Instagram all day.
“If they wanted the fight, they would talk to me. They’re not even talking to us. We’ve made offers, we’ve made percentage splits. Everything we can do, to try and make that fight.
“I think right now, there’s more chance of fighting Tyson Fury. There’s a man that knows he can have this fight, if he wants it. I’ve spoken to him. He knows if he wants to fight Joshua, it can happen April 13.”
Dillian Whyte and Jarrell Miller are two other names that have been mentioned to face Joshua, it appears Whyte wasn’t happy with the deal offered. There has also been rumours that Anthony Joshua may not appear at Wembley in April but instead make a debut in America, most likely against Miller.
“There’s Dillian Whyte, there’s Jarrell Miller, but Joshua is back from holiday, he’s started training now, he wants to know,” said Hearn. “We’ve probably got 10 days to two weeks before we officially have to pull the trigger.
“All those guys that I’ve mentioned, particularly Wilder, Fury and Whyte – that fight is there for them.
“What I can tell you is, Dillian, I was with him this morning. He wants a great deal to fight Joshua. I don’t blame him for that. He’s been through a hard road to get where he is to No 1.
“He can wait and become mandatory at some point, but if Dillian Whyte wants to fight for the world heavyweight title on April 13, there is the opportunity for him to do so, right now.
“It’s almost like a race against time, particularly for those three, Wilder, Fury and Whyte. They’ve all had offers, they could all sign now today, and get the fight. But do they want the fight? I believe the offers, some have been made, some are about to be improved, it’s put up or shut up time.
“You want to win these four title belts, you believe you can beat Anthony Joshua, then let’s go, but everyone wants to negotiate, and rightly so.”
Will We See Anthony Joshua Take on Tyson Fury?
By: Michael Kane
Will we see Anthony Joshua take on Tyson Fury this year? Both fighters are with different promoters and different UK PPV channels so trying to put the fight together could prove problematic.
Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren has suggested that both Sky and BT Sport could show the fight as a PPV.
“In the UK. You could go to Cardiff, they have a roof on the stadium. That should be summer, outdoors at a football stadium and would sell it out 10 times over,” Warren told the BBC recently.
“It would grip the country – one of those events that transcends the back pages. Everybody would be talking about it.
“It will be a pay-per-view event because the fighters will want to maximise their income, you can understand that. It’s very easy (to make) this fight (if it’s 50-50).
“When I say 50/50, let Sky and BT Sport Box Office both have it. Take all the obstacles away like they do in the States. The fans want the fight.
“If both TV channels are showing it, that means the boxers’ incomes are going to be more. It’s a no-brainer.”
However an other obstacle is the rivalry between Warren and Joshua’s promoters, father and son team, Barry and Eddie Hearn who run Matchroom Boxing.
Warren continues, “Anthony Joshua is a business. He makes money. It doesn’t matter who he fights, they can fill up Wembley.
“They (Matchroom Boxing) have a seven year business plan, which is filling up Wembley twice a year and it’s a cash cow. I get that! Barry (Hearn) is an accountant by trade. That’s not what the fans want!”
There is no doubt that UK fans would love an all British clash between the two heavyweights however as always politics may stop the fight from ever happening.
With an April date already booked by Matchroom Boxing for Wembley, it’s unlikely we will see Joshua take on either Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury. In fact we might not even see Joshua appearing at Wembley, with reports now suggesting a fight with Jarrell Miller will take place Stateside to introduce Joshua to the U.S market.
This could leave a Wilder – Fury 2 fight to take place and once again overshadow Anthony Joshua who has been the beacon for British and Heavyweight boxing in recent years.