The way both Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder reacted after the referee raised their arms to inform them and the world that their absorbing contest had resulted in a split decision draw told more than a thousand sports articles or blog posts could. On one side there was a smile spawned by sheer relief and on the other a grimace resulting from a true sense of injustice. Due to the widespread amount of attention (due partly to WWE related memes on Twitter) that the fight has received since the last bell rang on Saturday night LA time, many readers will know why each fighter reacted the way they did on hearing the news from the judges. As boxing pundits across the board and basically the entire internet felt that Tyson Fury should have been allowed to complete, as the man himself described, what would have been the ‘greatest comeback in boxing history’.
As always it’s difficult to compare achievements from one generation to the next yet what is abundantly clear is the achievement of a man who not too long ago seemed to be out of the sport forever and by his own reports nearly out of life altogether. Tyson Fury having shed a ridiculous amount of weight to get himself back into the heavyweight title picture looked like the reigning champion on Saturday night rather than the outside contender many (including myself) took him to be. For twelve rounds, even after nearly being knocked out cold, he outclassed WBC Champ Deontay Wilder with his usual array of slippery ring craft. It takes a special kind of fighter to be knocked down twice in a fight that can still be claim to be completely robbed of the correct decision from the three judges at ringside. Yet unfortunately for Fury, an ever willing Wilder and the sport of boxing as a whole it was the scoring of the fight rather than the fight itself that made the headlines once more.
For a travelling fighter, especially one that heads to the big lights of the United States, there is always the knowledge that it is simply more difficult to win by a points decision away from home. A sad fact, that continues to smear the appeal of boxing to hard die and casual fans alike. This was again proved by one judge (notably the British one) scoring the contest a draw and other a narrow 114-112 win in favour of Fury. Both scores that didn’t really reflect the true nature of the bout but are understandable given the venue of the fight combined with the fact that the reigning WBC champion Wilder knocked down his opponent twice. Yet the third score of 115-111 in favour of Wilder, given by Mexican judge Alejandro Rochin, was frankly ridiculous. Especially after the ever reliable Twitter community revealed that Rochin had inconceivably scored the first four rounds to Wilder which only deepened the ridicule of the score. Former world champ and popular boxing pundit/commentator Paulie Malignaggi perhaps summed it up best by shutting down any post-fight analysis given to him by fellow Showtime presenters by furiously stating ‘This decision is a joke…I can’t even do my own job anymore!’
Yet unfortunately for Fury, his supporters and his team, for whatever reason the fight was scored the way it was and Deontay Wilder is still the WBC champion. However, despite the negativity surrounding the decision, there are many positives to take from Saturday’s brawl at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The first of which is that Tyson Fury is officially back in the mix at the top ranks of heavyweight boxing which is great for a division which was looking like it would only have two many contenders in Wilder and Anthony Joshua in the coming year or so. Love him or hate him, Fury is a great and unique fighter who knows how to sell a fight to the wider public, which is something that boxing sorely needs more of it wants to continue to grow as a sport in the UK and beyond. Yet the main positive to take from Saturday strikes a more serious note, the fact that someone who claims that they were on the brink of suicide less than eighteen months ago has managed to turn their life around. And in doing so attempted to inspire others who have similar mental health issues that perhaps they can do the same, through sheer hard work and perseverance. A story that will hopefully eclipse any terrible scoring of fights or stuffy boxing politics.
The good news for Fury, who on face value looks mentally ready to continue his comeback, is that a rematch between he and Wilder looks to be on the cards as Wilder’s promoter Shelly Finkel stated after the fight that it was more the attractive option for them than attempting to mend broken fences with Anthony Joshua’s promotional team. Having cut in line to face Wilder and performed so well away from home soil, Fury, with that wide Chesire cat smile of his, has cheekily planted himself right in the middle of a potential unification fight between Joshua and Wilder. Moreover, as is always the way in boxing, much like when George Groves was controversially stopped by Carl Froch, there will be a huge push for a rematch and that seems to be the logical next step for both Wilder and Fury.
For Wilder, there is still much to prove as in truth you could assert that in his forty-first contest that Fury was the first world class fighter he has ever faced and that if the fight was scored properly then he would no longer hold his WBC belt. The Bronze Bomber should of course be given a lot of credit for tirelessly trying to break Fury down and you doubt many fighters would have got up from (cue Undertaker music) that savage right hand/left hook combination in the twelve. Yet now the dust has settled on the fight, there will still be questions lingering regarding Wilder’s ability to beat the top contenders in the division until he actually does.
As for Fury, many will assert that despite the heartbreak of the judges scorecards, that he might hold the physiological edge going into a potential rematch. Wilder, after landing that brutal two punch salvo and then celebrating emphatically, looked on his complete disbelief as he saw Fury rise from the canvas. You wonder how that will dent Wilder’s confidence going into a second fight as the kitchen sink was thrown and his opponent somehow wiped the jagged porcelain pieces from his face and got on with it to win the rest of the round.
Another factor is that Saturday’s fight was actually too early for Fury yet his skill, experience and bravery still should have lead him to victory. Imagine then the level of performance he could bring to a rematch now that the ring rust has truly been beaten out of him. And imagine the scenes and support a rematch could garner if Fury’s promoter Frank Warren can manage to get it held on British soil. Something that many fight fans will call for after yet another awful decision spoiled (or least delayed) what indeed could have one of the most impressive boxing comebacks of all time.
If you enjoyed this article or any others on thesixyardring feel free to like/share/RT them or alternatively mention them to friends as you all practice Tombstone Piledrivers on each other and try to get your eyes to roll to the back of your head.