There is no bigger stage in boxing than a heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas, Nevada. Apologies to Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium. One week before such a fight, this writer would be getting ready to hit the road for Sin City fully armed with research, insights, and opinions. Just like the champions and challengers, boxing journalists train and prep for big assignments.
Insert the needle scratching sound effects. This is why no one involved in boxing should ever make non-refundable travel plans.
While the boxing world learned 10 days ago WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury tested positive for COVID-19 and would miss his July 24 rematch with Deontay Wilder, an official statement wasn’t issued by either promoter until Thursday, July 15.
“Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III Heavyweight World Title Bout Postponed Due to COVID-19 Diagnosis” blared the news release headline issued by Top Rank Boxing and its public relations firm. The actual news dropped in the subheading: “Rescheduled for Saturday, October 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.”
“I wanted nothing more than to smash the ‘Big Dosser’ on July 24, but I guess the beating will have to wait,” said Tyson Fury in the release. “Make no mistake, I will be back and better than ever. We will fight Oct. 9, and I will knock him spark out!”
Huh. Is that so? What we really could have used instead of this sound bite is a legitimate explanation for why Fury failed to ensure he and his team were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus prior to traveling from the UK to Las Vegas to train for the July 24 bout.
Exactly one month ago on June 15 at the sole news conference promoting the bout, Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum declared Fury and his entire team were fully vaccinated. Arum said it was a requirement to proceed with the rematch.
But Arum was wrong.
After Fury tested positive, he found out the truth.
“He got vaccinated in Miami,” Arum said. “He got the first shot. And then he said he didn't wanna get the second shot because he didn't want to get sick [from the vaccination] so close to the fight. So, he got COVID instead. I knew he had one shot, and I was hoping it was Johnson & Johnson. But it wasn't. It was Moderna.”
Fury’s explanation? Apparently, he was concerned the second vaccination would affect his health and his training for the bout with Wilder. It’s true the second Moderna vaccine can be brutal. Mine put me in bed for three days and on the brink of going to the ER with a 103-degree fever. But once the worst was over, there were no residual effects.
Whether Fury would have suffered the same symptoms is highly doubtful. According to the CDC, Moderna’s instructions say to give everybody .5 milliliters for each dose no matter their gender, age, or weight. I’m a flyweight. Fury outweighs me depending on the day by 180 pounds. Who really believes he would have suffered anywhere near the same reaction?
It’s possible Fury would have gotten ill even with a second dose. It’s a vaccine, not a force field. But wouldn’t everyone involved, ideally, have taken more precautions like back in The Bubble days to protect their greatest asset had they known the truth?
Based on Fury’s past behavior, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he turned out to be an anti-vaxxer. He’s not been shy about expressing off-kilter opinions about health or politics. Fine, then you practice the most stringent protections possible. Instead, Fury threw caution to the wind and seemingly did nothing more than cross his fingers.
Now, those days carved out in my schedule, in and around July 24, are open to suggestion. The date of the fight being moved isn't that big deal for me. I drive from my home in San Diego, and bunk with my brother in hospitable Henderson, Nevada. But it IS a big deal for all the folks who invested their time and money only to see it wasted.
There are all the undercard fighters, trainers, nutritionists, cutmen, costumers, and others who won’t see a paycheck for three more months. Add the announcers, ring officials, and medical personnel. Count the hundreds of people required to staff and operate a massive venue like the T-Mobile Arena. There are also all the people employed by the Las Vegas tourism economy losing out on sorely needed income following the drought of the pandemic. To many of them, this is a real personal disaster.
This didn’t happen because Fury became ill. It happened because Fury didn't follow the recommended protocol regarding vaccination. And his “explanation” sounds ridiculous, frankly. Boxers exaggerate and talk trash all the time. Fury even trolled Wilder over ‘accepting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ And we process the information accordingly. But this is life, death, and livelihoods in the balance.
So, is Fury's screw-up a sin of omission or a sin of commission?
If Tyson Fury is the Christian man he professes to be, he needs to repent for whatever category of sin applies. According to Christian teachings, any sin mankind commits but asks pardon for is forgivable.
Tyson Fury needs to raise his voice and ask for forgiveness in the strongest possible terms.