I‘d be remiss if I let another day go by without mentioning the Wilder-Fury fight Saturday night.
I have strong opinions about the way the spectacle turned out and it’s based on many years of watching the sport.
And it all comes down to the name of the sport:
It’s not called “Punching,” it’s called “Boxing.” And don’t forget that if you are wagering on a fight.
I’ve seen ferocious, fearsome punchers come and go over the years and many of them were dominant. Until they ran into skilled boxers -- people who mastered the art and science of the game. And then it turned quickly.
People were terrified of Sonny Liston and Mike Tyson. And then Liston met then-Cassius Clay and Tyson ran into Evander Holyfield
And Deontay Wilder had to face Tyson Fury. Wilder, accustomed to chasing frightened fighters around the ring while trying to land his devastating right hand, had all kinds of trouble getting his offense together as he was forced to move backward.
Fury was unafraid. He stalked Wilder. He became the aggressor and every commentator immediately jumped on the “bullies don’t like to be bullied” scenario. Which is true. But in the heavyweight division, punchers can have a very successful career because at their weight, that punch can be almost lethal. And they often don't need as many boxing skills because many of the people they fight won't be boxers, either. The big guys often aren't capable because of their inability to move as well as fighters in lower weight classes.
Fury is a surprising fighter. He’s not sculpted as many fighters and is probably carrying a few pounds too many on his 6-9 frame. But he can handle it, at least at this point of his career.
He is not a big puncher and doesn’t move with the skill of a Muhammad Ali. And he’s a bit crazy, but seemingly in a harmless way.
The main thing about him is that he’s a smart, well-trained boxer. He knows how to avoid being hit, slipping punches while delivering his own shots. He has all the tricks, knows when to clinch and how to maximize the clinches by forcing his opponent to feel his weight.
What I took away from the two Fury-Wilder fights is that both men know how to sell a fight. That matters in today’s crowded entertainment business. They are promoters.
That’s why I believe there will be a rematch and the boxing hype machine will find a narrative to make it attractive. The puncher vs. the boxer has usually been a compelling story.
And maybe between now and then, Wilder can find a trainer who can help him become more of a boxer.
His punching power is real. He just has to learn how to box well enough to make it a factor against Fury.