Look, I get it.
The heavyweight division has been moribund since the last golden age when titans like Lewis, Holyfield, Bowe, and Tyson walked the earth. Those of us who suffered through the Klitschko years of punch and hold boxing have been hungry – nay, starving – for a reason to get excited about the most glamorous weight class in the game.
It’s just that after watching Wilder/Fury this weekend (don’t judge me for catching it late, I was in Mexico celebrating my engagement – deal with me), I still think we should be famished.
It’s not that the fight was boring. Thanks to the clownish oaf known as Tyson Fury, the pre-fight drama was built up to a sizable degree. And a guy like Wilder, who has legit hurtin’ bombs in his gloves, always leaves open the possibility of blitzing the guy across from him even when he’s looking bad in the ring.
Which brings me to my point. Both of these guys looked like shit. Fury loped around the ring like a drunken walrus and Wilder swung with abandon like a big, undisciplined kid in a playground scrap. This was not a good fight, let alone a great one.
Those who would argue otherwise should really raise their expectations. Because what we were served in the ring wasn’t a Ruth’s Chris steak, it was a gristly sirloin left under the hot lamp too long at the Golden Corral.
I suppose if you are a huge fan of either fighter – and again, I ask why? – then maybe you were able to get caught up in the moment. And yes, I know it’s not fair to compare eras, but if these guys were scrapping back in the Ali-Frazier-Foreman days, they wouldn’t rise to the Ernie Shavers-George Chuvalo level.
Fury is an ungainly goof who has turned a history of mental illness, self-inflicted wounds, and offensive (even racist) comments into a side show that draws plenty of lazy eyes. Wilder is a late to the game puncher with an athletic build who has never learned how to employ his natural gifts with either style or consistency. One guy flummoxes opponents with his awkward non-style and size, while the other wanders around looking for that one shot.
It’s a shite state of affairs that those modest abilities have taken them as far as they have. If anything, it’s an indictment of the division as a whole. This weight class could use Brad Pitt’s Achilles from Troy. A man who would slay these big overpraised fighters and turn to the crowd and say, “Is there no one else?!”
The good news is maybe there is. There’s a possibility that Anthony Joshua could be that guy. He has real skill, hits almost as hard as Wilder, and has a legit pedigree to display in the ring. I’ll tell you this, if Joshua can’t do it then the heavyweight division is in no better shape than it was during the Klitschko error. I mean, “era.” Because as much as one might like Joseph Parker, Luis Ortiz, or “Big Baby” Miller, not a one of them moves the needle over to the side of greatness.
I know the job of the Showtime crew is to hype the fight to the viewers. I don’t know, maybe those guys were truly excited watching all that occasional swinging and mostly missing that went on during the Wilder/Fury fight. Good for them, I suppose. But they are selling us a flawed product. You don’t even need to look hard to see that. You just have to keep one good eye open. Sport a clean set of spectacles. Hell, just stay awake.
Many years ago, when the legendary New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor reigned terror on his opponents, he was mic’d up for a game. He tore through the line, swallowed the quarterback whole, spat him out onto his derrière, stood over him and said, “Son, you are going to have to do a whole lot better than this.”
Which brings two thoughts to mind:
The heavyweight division needs to do a whole lot better than this.
The heavyweight division could sure as hell use a Lawrence Taylor and Brad Pitt.
Save us, Anthony Joshua. Save us from this mediocrity masquerading as tip-top of the food chain pugilism.
Because the longer he waits, the more likely people are to buy this as the real thing.
And it ain’t.