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Wilder vs Fury: Who actually won the first fight?

Joseph Herron Updated
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"A prizefight is merely a beauty contest between two fighters if someone doesn't score a clean knock-out" - George Foreman

Is Big George Foreman correct in his assessment?

According to the late Harold Lederman, God rest his soul, scoring a prizefight really isn't as difficult a job as most currently make it out to be.

In his words, "You look at both fighters, and whoever does the most damage, you give them the round...it's that simple!"

Okay, Harold.

With that logic, who actually won Wilder vs. Fury part 1?

If you ask fans of Deontay Wilder who won the first fight between the current WBC Heavyweight champion and Tyson Fury, they will confidently insist that their man clearly won the fight and should have been given credit for a clean knock-out in the 12th and final round.

If you ask fans of Tyson Fury that same question, they will insist that their guy put forth a boxing masterclass and schooled the amateurish WBC heavyweight titleholder throughout ten of the twelve rounds fought last December.

Obviously the three judges at ringside were split in their collective assessment, which is why fight fans will be treated to a rematch between the two behemoths on February 22nd, in "Lost Wages" Nevada.

In a recent segment created by Wilder's handlers, Premier Boxing Champions, elite level trainer Joe Goossen chimed in on who he felt won the first contest.

(Disclaimer: Joe Goossen currently works with PBC as a color commentator, but is hired to voice his expert and ostensibly unbiased opinion)

"I went back and rescored the fight. I unemotionally looked at the fight, picked it apart, hit the rewind, stopped, made notes, and I think Deontay won the fight," claims world-class trainer and PBC commentator Joe Goossen.

"I think Fury said it best at the press conference. He said, 'Look, I was too defensive, I didn't punch enough, and I didn't hit hard enough.' I agree with all three of those things and that's why I gave a lot of the rounds to Wilder because he was the aggressor."

"It's one thing to be effective if you're boxing like Fury, but he wasn't counterpunching and doing any damage."

So who's most accurate in their observation of the initial twelve rounds fought between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury?

Let's look at the scoring criteria used for a prizefight, shall we?

If one reviews the criteria used to score a prizefight, it consists of two tiers:

1) Clean, effective and consequential punching
2) Ring Generalship or Effective aggression

The primary criterion is the first tier of scoring; clean, effective and consequential punching. If a judge can't determine a clear winner by the amount of clean, effective and consequential punches landed in any given round, then the judge would logically move to the second tier of scoring, which is ring generalship or effective aggression.

What's the difference between ring generalship and effective aggression?

If a fighter is pressing the action by aggressively moving forward but eating clean shots the entire round while not landing anything of consequence, it's not considered to be "effective" aggression. Yet if a fighter is consistently backing up, not doing anything to detour his more aggressive minded opponent and not landing anything of consequence, it's not considered to be ring generalship.

Both terms are basically defined by who's dictating the pace of the action and controlling range.

Here's what makes the entire process of scoring a prizefight a "subjective art" and not nearly as easy as Harold Lederman described.

Define consequential or effective...it's like trying to define what's beautiful and what isn't.

Just as beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, so is clean, effective and consequential punching...or effective aggression for that matter.

Compubox statistics don't make the process any easier either. Although one can tabulate the number of punches thrown and landed by both fighters in any given round via compubox, those totals don't account for the amount of torque with which a punch was thrown, or doesn't measure the consequence the punch had on the recipient.

That's what makes the process of scoring a prizefight so difficult.

Yet most die-hard fight fans consistently claim "robbery" every time any competitive bout goes to the judges' scorecards.

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I guess George Foreman was right...a prizefight is indeed a beauty contest between two fighters unless it ends with a decisive and definitive knock-out.

Actually, a stoppage may not be all that definitive these days, depending on who you ask.

When Tyson Fury was brutally floored in the twelfth and final round in his first meeting with Deontay Wilder, the Gypsy King hit the canvas at the 2:21 mark, which consequently started the official count at ringside. Referee Jack Reiss picked up the count at "4", and counted till "9" before Tyson made it all the way up on both feet. The third man in the ring then proceeded to give Fury what's now being called a "ring sobriety" test, which lasted about ten full seconds. Jack Reiss then commenced to instruct both fighters to "box" and virtually signaled "time in" at the 1:59 mark of the final round.

That means from the moment Fury hit the canvas to the time Reiss instructed both fighters to "box", 22 seconds expired from the official ring clock.

Although many have criticized official Jack Reiss for the delay immediately following the knock-down, PBC commentator and world-class fight trainer Joe Goossen offered this explanation for the delay:

"That's mandated by the commission now," states Goossen. "He (Referee Jack Reiss) has to give him the sobriety test, they have to go sideways, backward...this is the problem. He's giving that fighter extra time."

"If I'm in the corner and my guy knocks you down, and it's mandated by the commission now that you've got to do all of these tests, and he gets an extra three, four, five seconds, I'm going nuts in the corner!"

But it is for the safety of the fighters, so what can you do?

Obviously the extra time was long enough for Fury to fully "gather his bearings", for he arguably did the "more effective" work throughout the final two minutes of the twelfth stanza.

And there lies another issue with the scoring process...if a judge determines that a fighter who gets knocked down, beats the count, then gets up to dominate the action throughout the time remaining on the clock, how does that judge score the round? Do they score it 10-8 or 10-9? Unfortunately, a judge can't rightfully score the round 9-8, because they use a ten-point must system.

And keep in mind, a fight is scored on a round by round basis.  That means that if one fighter wins six rounds by a relatively wide margin without a single knockdown, but barely loses the other six rounds by a very slim margin, the fight is officially scored a draw.

Would most fans honestly see it that way?

So when Tyson Fury states that he plans to sit down on his punches more and work towards scoring a knock-out in the return bout, every fight fan should scream "Hallelujah"!! Fans obviously don't have to worry about Wilder merely trying to outpoint his opponent in any fight.

Hopefully, fans will finally get to see a definitive winner without controversy when Wilder and Fury lock horns once again on February 22nd!!

Don't get your hopes up...it is boxing after all.

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