If Tyson Fury’s ascent to the heavyweight summit in November signaled the end of one era in boxing’s bellwether division, then Saturday night’s card at the Barclays Center effectively raised the curtain on the next – with extracurriculars offering a hint of the three-ring circus ahead.
No sooner had Deontay Wilder salvaged an uneven performance against Artur Szpilka with a devastating right hand in the ninth round, one that separated the Polish challenger from his senses for nearly seven minutes until he was stretchered from the ring to an ambulance, than Fury, who had flown to New York on his own dime, clambered through the ropes to turn the spotlight on himself.
“Anytime, anyplace, anywhere,” he cried with a madman’s tact, moving within inches of the WBC champion’s nose for emphasis. “I’ll fight you in your backyard. Like I done Klitschko, I’ll beat you, you bum! You’re a bum!”
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Once the pair were separated Wilder fired back: “You can run around like you’re a preacher but I promise you, when you do step in this ring I will baptize you!
“I would love to fight him next. Unfortunately, I have a mandatory due, [but] make the date, Tyson, I promise you.”
By then Fury, classically understated as ever, had tossed the vest of his three-piece suit to the canvas, climbed the turnbuckle and commenced strafing the crowd of 12,668 with a series of obscene gestures. A disgraceful display in any civilized society to be sure, but for fight fans of a certain vintage it was hard to not feel a pang of nostalgia. On a night when Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson were reunited in the ring, themselves no strangers to the big top, the advance publicity for a Fury-Wilder showdown that now feels inevitable was a welcome touch.
All four pieces of a heavyweight championship that’s been fractured for nearly two decades were under one roof on Saturday night. There was Wilder, successful in the third defense of his WBC belt despite early turbulence. Fury, holder of the WBA and WBO titles after taming Klitschko, took it in from ringside. And a good-natured unknown named Charles Martin captured the vacant IBF strap with a third-round TKO of Vyacheslav Glazkov, claiming a belt that had been stripped from Fury in December for opting to take a Klitschko rematch over the organization’s mandatory challenger.
It had been nearly 116 years since the last heavyweight title fight on Brooklyn soil, when James J Jeffries stopped James J Corbett in the 23rd round before a crowd of 7,000 at Coney Island’s Seaside Athletic Club on 11 May 1900, and seemingly just as long since an American has dominated a division once considered the nation’s exclusive province.
These fans want so badly to believe in Wilder. The super-sized Alabaman certainly looks the part: 228lbs of chiseled musculature and fast-twitch fibers that wouldn’t be out of place in an NFL team’s defensive backfield. And there’s the sexy record, now 36-0 with 35 knockouts, which remains deeply tantalizing even if the caliber of opposition has been shall we say questionable.
But it’s hard to imagine Wilder’s performance, spectacular denouement notwithstanding, giving Fury or any of the top names in the division pause. Not after Szpilka, a fringe contender in no one’s top 20 who had been floored by Mike Mollo and stopped by Bryant Jennings, used head movement and an awkward southpaw stance to make the champion miss wildly and appear downright confused for long stretches. Perhaps better to enjoy Wilder for what he is – a flawed crowd-pleaser with one-punch knockout power who is never in a bad fight – than what he is not. Or at best is not yet.
Wilder stressed during the post-fight press conference he had no plans of skipping his mandatory defense against Alexander Povetkin, easily the best opponent he’s been in with and hardly a walkover, but would gladly meet Fury afterward and travel to do it.
“I think it will be the biggest heavyweight fight in a long time. I would go to the UK for that one, that’s for sure,” he said. “With Fury, I’m not going to have no remorse, I’m not going to have no sympathy. I’m going to want to really, really, really hurt him.”
Should Wilder survive Povetkin and Fury double down on Klitschko, Saturday’s post-fight bluster could pay off as soon as the fall. But in a division chock full of imperfect champions, the wisest tack may be to expect the unexpected.
LONDON (AFP) - Anthony Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn said on Sunday (Oct 29) that he wants to see his fighter take on controversial former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in an all-British showdown next year.
Joshua, 28, successfully defended his IBF (International Boxing Federation) and WBA (World Boxing Association) heavyweight titles against Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Saturday (Oct 28) and either WBO (World Boxing Organisation) champion Joseph Parker or WBC (World Boxing Council) champion Deontay Wilder appear the most likely next opponents.
However, Hearn has not ruled out the prospect of a headline-grabbing bout with Fury, who is still waiting for a final ruling from UK Anti-Doping on a suspended drugs ban after the hearing was adjourned in July.
"I think the Wilder fight is potentially one of the biggest in world boxing and I think that fight is realistically going to happen in the summer of 2018," he told BBC Radio.
"But Tyson Fury is a guy who we'd love to see come into the sport. Whether that'll happen or not is another issue.
"The problem for him is to overcome the governing body and UK Anti-Doping.
"I think he will come back. I think at some point he will wake up one morning and think, 'I've got to get myself together here' and go challenge in these big fights.
"If he does, with one or two fights, then I'd love to see the Anthony Joshua fight and I'd like to see it in 2018."
Fury, whose licence was suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) last October, has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko to win the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in December 2015.
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old said he would not reapply to the BBBofC for the right to fight again, further reducing the chances of a return.