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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: FAST AND FURY-OUS

By Paul Magno | June 17, 2019
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: FAST AND FURY-OUS

ESPN's hard-selling was nauseating, but Tyson Fury did his part Saturday night in actually putting on a compelling fight at the heart of The Tyson Fury Show. 

A Fury fight is seldom an entertaining endeavor. Usually, where the “Gypsy King” is involved, the intrigue and entertainment ends when the talking stops. The 6-foot-9 Irishman employs a sloppy Ali style, moving backwards and jabbing, keeping foes at bay while touching them up from a distance to win scorecard points. It’s hardly more than a giant of a man with an 85-inch reach being awkward as hell and out-touching opposition that can’t comfortably reach him. 

But that wasn’t the case Saturday. 

Fury did a bit of backpedaling and showboating, but then he actually let his hands go. And he threw with force, proving that if a 6-foot-9, 260 lb. man really wants to generate power, he can. By the time of the merciful second round stoppage, Fury’s opponent Tom Schwarz was a lump of a man with a bloodied, broken nose and beaten-down spirit. 

Mind you, this was Tom Schwarz and not Joe Louis or Joe Frazier…or…Wilder, Ruiz, or Joshua…or even Pulev or Kownacki. But Fury did what he was supposed to do against a guy like Schwarz and he did it in a very entertaining way. 

The only problems coming from Saturday’s show were those out of Fury’s hands. 

The constant “he’s captivating the American fight fan” talk was cringe-worthy and clearly overboard as they hailed Fury’s star power from a half-empty MGM Grand in Las Vegas and off the ESPN main stage, behind the paywall of the network’s streaming app. On a side note, it kind of makes you wonder how, exactly, ESPN plans on making Tyson Fury, a man they signed to a contract worth reportedly $100 million, an American superstar while keeping him segregated behind the subscription-only ESPN+ app. 

Another bit of pathetic was ESPN’s pushing and pushing of the lineal champ nonsense, essentially trying to manufacture a world championship for their fighter where there is none. 

I admit, I’ve fallen victim to the intellectual laziness of declaring Fury “the lineal champ.” But, if one cares about honesty and integrity of concepts, then it should be noted that Fury is just a top contender and former three-belt champ, not the lineal heavyweight champ as he was being sold on Saturday. If we’re talking a literal lineage, a line of “men who beat the men,” dating all the way back to John L. Sullivan, then the idea of a true lineal champ died more than a century ago. Fury’s “lineage” only dates back to his win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and seeing as how Klitschko never beat Lennox Lewis, it’s not any sort of true lineage. Even before Lennox Lewis, though, the heavyweight lineage hadn’t been a “man who beat the man who beat the man” literal reality—as it was being peddled Saturday night ad nauseam on ESPN-- since James J. Jeffries. The entire lineal champ concept is not applicable to boxing anymore and should be retired, but that’s a gripe for another day.

But despite a heaping helping of gripes aimed at ESPN, there’s nothing bad to say about Tyson Fury’s performance at all. He sold the fight beforehand, as he usually does, and then delivered on his promise to entertain with brutal, bloody dominance. I could live without the post-fight singing, but even that was palatable after a dominant in-ring outing with a satisfying finish. 

It would be wise, though, for ESPN to let Fury sell himself with his in-ring performances from here on out. Promoting is one thing, but laying it on like a Bill Mays infomercial and flat-out lying in an over-the-top effort to hard-sell Fury to the masses will make their $100 million guy look ridiculous and, generally, just turn people off. 

Quick (S)hits:

-- There are lots of people still suffering from H.O.S. (Haymon Obsession Syndrome). When an Al Haymon fighter performs poorly, as Andrew Tabiti did this Saturday against Yuniel Dorticos in a bid for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title, it's somehow Haymon's fault. At least, that’s what I see while checking out social media. But if Haymon is such a factor in his fighters' performances, why doesn't he get credit for when his fighters perform well? Like Andy Ruiz, for example. Fans should stop clutching to business alliances and picking “sides.” They should just be focused on pushing for good fights and supporting fan-friendly business practices. 

-- Remember when Americans used to get all those Saturday afternoon Euro-fights for free? Now DAZN broadcasts many of them, ESPN+ also shows some—and you have to pay. I’m not quite seeing where this is a win for fans. 

-- Jesse Hart didn’t look crazy-impressive in beating Sullivan Barrera on the Fury-Schwarz undercard, but he got the job done and looked sturdy enough in his 175 lb. debut. Winning via unanimous decision with scores of 99-90, 96-93, and 97-92, Hart may have benefitted a bit from a 37-year-old Barrera showing his 37 years, but it’s clear that Top Rank/ESPN has another high-end player in the light heavyweight division they’re trying to control. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

JULY 21, 2019
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