Why boxing fans shouldn't build 'Wilder vs. Fury 2' as the fight to revive boxing's popularity in America
Styles make fights.
No, it's not just an overused boxing adage...it's the absolute truth.
Although fight fans and advocates are hoping the upcoming heavyweight showdown between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury produces great fireworks and high drama on the biggest stage of the sport, they would be wise not to get their collective hopes up.
Yes, the superb pairing between arguably the two best heavyweights in the world today should be celebrated. How often do spectators get to see two undefeated champions square off in a rematch for a lineal championship in the heavyweight division? Think about it for just one moment before anyone attempts to find fault with the previous inquiry.
A rematch with both fighters still remaining undefeated heading into the highly anticipated event?
It doesn't happen...ever.
Especially at the highest level. No, contrary to popular belief, there is no shame in losing at the elite level in any sport. History tells us there must inevitably be a winner and a loser in every contest.
Yes, both combatants have much to lose, yet everything to gain...it's what makes this contest so compelling. For that simple reason, fight fans should herald this event as a sporting marvel regardless of the outcome or how the fight eventually plays out.
But fans will be fans...especially boxing die-hards who seem to take great pride in finding any reason to complain.
For example, consider the commercially successful but anticlimactic "Mayweather vs. Pacquiao", which took place a half-decade ago. Can anyone believe it's been that long?
May/Pac was supposed to be the fight to revive boxing's popularity in America...it was to be the purging of everything for every long-suffering fight fan. For years, fans of every culture clamored to see the two most popular fighters on the planet square off at 147 pounds, and built up the pairing to epic proportions...so much so, the style match-up had absolutely no chance in living up to its mythical expectation.
For some strange reason, even the most knowledgeable boxing fanatics chose to suspend rational thought and genuinely seemed to believe that arguably the best defensive fighter in the history of the sport would suddenly decide to recklessly exchange blows with the always dangerous Manny Pacquiao in the center of the ring, just to entertain the millions of mainstream and casual fans who ordered the spectacle and were hoping to see Gatti vs Ward at the highest level.
Of course, it would never happen that way. "Pacquiao vs Mayweather" was never going to be the most action-filled fight in the history of boxing. But rather than explaining why fans didn't get "rock 'em, sock 'em robots", even the most intelligent boxing observers chose to once again belittle the efforts of the two best fighters on the planet and seemed to take "great pride" in burying their beloved boxing publicly.
Boxing fans in the know have a much greater responsibility than they realize. They are, whether they accept it or not, the premier ambassadors of the sport...they act as the unofficial "color commentators" for the sweet science to their friends and family members who don't quite appreciate or understand what they're watching.
Unfairly scrutinizing the efforts of two technically proficient warriors doesn't make you a more knowledgeable boxing fan, quite the contrary.
Fans can always hope for the best, in terms of entertainment value, but a disclaimer to any mainstream and casual spectator is warranted with this specific style match-up.
A knock-out is preferred, but not a given...especially at the elite level of any division; even the heavyweights.
One of the primary reasons why the Heavyweights have often been referred to as boxing's "glamour division" is it's the most frequent in terms of ending with a dramatic and decisive KO. But when fighters are undefeated and are at their respective apex of confidence and physical ability, it seldom plays out that way.
At the elite level, most fighters can adapt to whatever they're presented with inside the ring...it's why they're currently competing at the highest level of the sport. It's imperative that mainstream and casual fans understand this variable heading into this "blown up" event. Although Deontay Wilder is currently boasting an almost perfect knock-out ratio, there's a very good reason why he was unable to stop Tyson Fury in the first fight. A lot like Mayweather heading into his date with Manny Pacquiao, Fury is a survivor and a chameleon in the ring.
Although every fighter would prefer to stop each and every respective opponent within the distance, it takes calculated risks to accomplish this feat. And when faced with a monstrous puncher like Wilder, someone like Fury understands that he's putting himself in harm's way every single time he decides to "sit down on his punches" and open up offensively.
Tyson Fury is not above doing whatever it takes to get the victory. Even it means making for an unwatchable affair to most casual and mainstream fans, the end ultimately justifies the means in Fury's mind.
Don't be surprised if Tyson elects to tie up Wilder on the inside every single time Dee gets into punching range, ultimately hindering the action and entertainment value of the contest. Yes, it's against the rules to excessively hold your opponent...but in a fight of this magnitude, don't be shocked if the referee in charge allows a lot of "grappling" on February 22nd.
The third man in the ring does not want to indirectly determine the outcome in a massive undertaking like Wilder vs. Fury, which is what he would be doing by merely enforcing the rules here. So look for the referee in charge to allow a very uncomfortable affair as long as he can.
Also, don't expect Deontay Wilder to recklessly let his hands go as he did in the first fight. It almost cost him the decision and seemed to spoil his ability to set up his vaunted right-hand bomb by emotionally flailing away like an amateur. So fans would be wise to anticipate a more measured pace and deliberate effort from Deontay Wilder in the rematch.
There will be several uncomfortable lulls in action during this fight...die-hard observers would be wise to warn the less educated fight fan heading into this event.
The mere mention that the fight can dramatically change with one clean punch in the heavyweight division should be enough to keep every interested fan on "pins and needles". The anticipation alone should make for an entertaining event, and a decisive or resounding KO should be viewed as "icing on the cake" when analyzing a fight of this magnitude.
Don't be surprised if fans witness another controversial decision.
Depending on what the judges at ringside prefer to see as "effective" or "consequential" will ultimately determine how they score each and every round. If a judge prefers to see the harder more "eye-catching" punches thrown, regardless of whether or not they land cleanly, he'll probably have the propensity to score the round for Wilder.
But If a judge has a history of rewarding the fighter who is dictating the pace of the action or avoiding the brunt his opponent's offensive assault, he'll more than likely favor Fury's more defensive-minded efforts.
When scoring a prizefight, preference of style is key in understanding why a fight is potentially scored so differently from one judge to the next.
It's up to the expert commentators at ringside and at home to make sense of this to the less educated observer.
In the immortal words of Uncle Ben from the old Spider-Man comics, "with great power comes great responsibility". Die-hard fans who supposedly love the sport of boxing would be wise to recognize their role here. They have the power to ultimately influence the casual observer both negatively and positively.
So what if both men engage in a mere pitcher's duel and don't participate in a boxing "home run derby" on February 22nd?
Wilder vs. Fury is truly "the best fighting the best", and should be viewed as boxing's equivalent to the World Series, regardless as to how it ultimately plays out.
Let's embrace the positive, shall we? Let's make a conscious effort to find solace in the mere fact that these two undefeated heavyweights are risking so much in an often "thankless" and heavily scrutinized endeavor. The sport will be much better off if we do.
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Fury is bringing in that Krunk KNock Out style to the fight and Wilder always goes for the knock out. If this goes to the judges than we just witnessed one of the greatest fights ever.