The response from fans of the sport to the official announcement that Fury–Chisora 3 on Dec. 3 in England has been a mix of derision, bewilderment, sadness and acceptance.
Not acceptance in a good way, I don’t think, more so it’s resignation. Like, it’s boxing, we the fans are used to getting the short end of the stick…rammed up where the sun don’t shine, sans lube.
Sure, there are some folks who look at this third fight between the 34 year old Fury (32-0-1), acknowledged as the top dog of the heavyweight division, and the 38 year old Chisora (look at his 33-12 record here), a gate-keeper who has been beaten twice by the Gypsy King, soundly, and has next to no chance to do better this time.
But, friends, lest we forget, or didn’t learn it the first time, this is the boxing business, and the aim and intent of the most powerful people shaping the direction of the sport is to make money. Sorry to break it to you, but “giving the customers what they want” is not at the top of the To Do list for most of the so-called promoters of the sweet science.
I am unclear on what percentage of fight fans know this, or accept this as the cold reality. But you’d have to be dense as hell to not pick up on that fact. Rather than having the construct be “have the best fight the best,” it’s way too often “maneuver my guy to a title fight which can be sold as a marquee event, charge customers liberally for the right to watch,” and rinse/repeat.
How stupid is it that we haven’t yet, and may well never, see the best welterweights of their age, Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, settle it in a ring who is the best and brightest badass at 147? Rhetorical question…It’s beyond stupid, it’s a shameful and searing indictment of the mis-handling of the sport. That is, if you see “the sport” as something other than a platform to make money on.
You do, I do…Most of us involved do. But not the people with the most power to shape direction. And yep, that includes some of the fighters. You know this, it’s a different age we are in, the age of freely shared information. Over the decades, fighters have become more savvy to the business side of the game. And, no surprise, that, combined with the fact that this era of fighters understands better in theory and practice the dangers of repeated head trauma, means that more boxers today see themselves as business people as much or more so than athletes as we used to view sporting professional.
All this is a preamble to this point: Nobody, except a tiny pocket of powerful people, asked for this Fury-Chisora 3 fight. Yet that is what has been crafted, and will be made available to boxing fans on Dec. 3. Me, I’m not mad about the fact, over the decades my views on such matters have evolved to where I am now. I’m disappointed, kind of disgusted, and moved to actively convey those emotions to you all. But mad, nah, because I am mostly resigned to this sort of thing. It’s because this isn’t an “even playing field.” The other pro leagues are more so that, with a schedule and structure put together which does a good job ensuring that the best team will win. Boxing’s schedule is put together on an “ad hoc” basis, on the fly. The Bob Arums, Al Haymon, Eddie Hearns and Frank Warrens of the world work behind the scenes to plot their courses, in concert with the various sanctioning bodies, and the paths of the fighters who they believe have the skill set to draw interest and thus, money. That money sometimes comes from platforms seeking content, as with ESPN’s relationship with Top Rank. And right now, much of the money which gets collected and dispersed comes from you, Joe and Jane Fan, who once or twice a month are offered a choice: pony up $75 to watch A or B+ grade boxers ply their trade. All are free to do as they choose, of course, but the “choice” isn’t optimal. If you don’t pony up, you won’t be seeing the best boxers of the era in action.
Tyson Fury is among the best, Top 10 P4P. And if you want to see him strut his stuff next time, you will be ponying up. Many won’t be doing that, though, judging by the consternation in the town square that is Twitter, and on message boards, like the chat box for the Fury-Chisora 3 presser (see below).
The blowback on this matchup is severe, you don’t very often see fans AND media making their true feelings known with such vehemence.
But of course, there is pushback, in the form of explanations. Fury co-promoter Frank Warren—he handles that task outside America, where Bob Arum does the duty—sought to minimize some of the pushback, when he offered his take on the merits of this tacky trilogy.
The first time Fury met Chisora, it made sense, because Fury was then 14-0 and had been feasting on usual suspect types. Rich Power, Zack Page, Marcelo Nascimento—and then Chisora, also 14-0. That right there was a coin flip fight, basically, Fury age 22, Chisora at the time handled by Warren and holding the British and Commonwealth title-holder at heavyweight. No quibbles about that Wembley Arena fight, which Fury took, via UD12.
He won by 5, 5 and 6 points and it wasn’t so close or compelling that we needed a rematch let alone Fury-Chisora 3.
But what we “need” and what we receive are often unrelated matters—and so on Nov. 29, 2014, Fury-Chisora 2 happened. Chisora had gone 6-3 since the first tussle, and Fury owned a 22-0 mark. He’d beaten B and C list competition since that mini crossroads battle.
Now, Frank Warren steered Fury’s course, and Fury had gone balder, so he featured a shaved head. He retained a wider skill set, and once again downed Chisora. This time, Fury exerted a power edge, and Chisora’s corner pulled the plug after the tenth round. Fury stared at the ref in the tenth, silently compelling the man to rescue Chisora from a round-after-round beatdown. “It’s been a sad night for Derek Chisora,” the blow-by-blow man John Rawling stated. “A fight he has dominated from the word go.” The color man Barry Jones noted that Fury has matured, improved conclusively, and he left Chisora in the dust.
But guess who soldiered on, and kept making a living in this milieu? Chisora, who went 13-7 from that point. He feasted on C-level prey and when stepped up, took Ls. In his last bout, against Kubrat Pulev, though, Chisora triumphed via split decision. This July 9, 2022 effort proved to be a ticket to obtaining another payday against, you guessed it, Mr Fury.
It leaves me shaking my head, and wondering why we're being offered Fury-Chisora 3. Does someone owe Chisora a favor, or two? Does Fury have a soft spot for the guy, and wants to hook him up, with a nice purse in exchange for getting pummeled? Unless you are part of the promotion, and it’s mandatory you talk up this match, really, you have to ask why, because there isn’t a single on surface reason for making Fury-Chisora 3. And it’s at a time like this when I find myself siding with Dana White, the UFC honcho who periodically lobs verbal grenades at this sport of ours, sneeringly dismissing our practices, which almost never involve giving the people ie the fans what they want.
Maybe that’s too harsh, but no one can be blamed for feeling the futility at being a hardcore fan, as the writing is on the wall to suggest we maybe won’t ever see Errol Spence fight Terence Crawford in a welterweight Super Bowl.
Boxing, giving the people what they don’t want, and then daring them to opt out. Jesus, the blistering reviews the sport would get on Yelp if the option existed…
One critic of this indecipherable state of affairs is a man who works at the indispensable BoxRec, the boxing record book of record, which contains the records and results for just about every pro fight ever made. “BoxRec Grey,” he goes by. BRG, age 36, is in fact a New Jersey resident, who for about 20 years has been the US editor for BoxRec. Click here to check out his Twitter feed, he's an entertaining follow.
On Thursday morning, he posted a video on Twitter, addressing Frank Warren and Fury-Chisora 3. Grey took issue, he said, with Warren stating that Chisora is the highest-rated heavyweight on BoxRec who was available for a stay sharp fight for Fury until Tyson decides to take on a stiffer challenge. “You and I both know this is a WBC voluntary defense, Fury could have fought anybody in the top 15,” Warren said, mentioning names of persons who would be better options than the journeyman from Finchley. “A very confusing trilogy,” is how BRG phrased it, euphemistically. “I appreciate the fact you want to keep Fury active,” he continued, before skillfully tossing in a barb at the stream of “negotiation” updates which now constitute 75% of “coverage” by most name boxing scribes. “I appreciate if you keep my name out of your mouth,” BRG said in summation, “keep the BoxRec rankings out of your mouth, that’d be great. I wish you best of luck filling up that stadium with 66 thousand drunken people, Francis Franklin. Good luck, lord be with you.”
I appreciated the directness displayed, especially since the messenger seemed wearing a hot dog costume as he poked subtle fun at the solemnity of his online brand persona. His irreverence is contextually on target, being that A MAN IN A HOTDOG SUIT IS A VOICE OF REASON.
A press conference to hype this Fury-Chisora 3 reunion unspooled Thursday and you can see and hear Warren explaining the reasoning as to why Chisora is getting recycled like this.
Frank said that it’s likely that Fury will battle Oleksandr Usyk in the first quarter of the year. Dev Sahni interviewed Frank before the presser kicked off, and deftly shifted gears, to less contentious matters, with the reference to Daniel Dubois landing on this card. Warren is no virgin, he knows how to talk titillating: “This is Chisora’s last big chance to bring his A game,” he offered. More bump n grind from Frank: “I think Chisora has a better chin (than Anthony Joshua),” the vet deal-maker told Sahni. “I expect him to do the best he can,”said Warren when asked what we can expect from the 33-12 gatekeeper, noting that Chisora had strong moments against Usyk, and twice against Dillian Whyte.
At least Warren wasn't stepping over a line, into egregious excess, unlike Chisora, who promised a KO of Fury. I know, I know, why am I rationalizing, looking for silver linings? It's because you can't be a long-time boxing fan if you don't work overtime in defending your addiction in your mind. Sad thing is, I can easily picture a time when I just say eff it, the ratio of good fights to dreck is ungodly, and shame on me for spending my time on a sport which treats rooters with the integrity and respect of timeshare salesmen.