Gerry Cooney is in Las Vegas, right now, soaking up the pomp and pageantry and exulting in it.
“This is big,” the SiriusXM radio host, who does a show with Randy Gordon (below, left) told me.
“It it as big as Cooney vs Larry Holmes,” I asked.
“Nah bro,” said the fighting pride of Huntington, Long Island. “It's not that big.”
Point taken; boxing in 1982 was at different place. In June 1982, when Cooney was looking to place that left hook just so, and take the crown from Larry Holmes, the crown was THE CROWN. Sure, you had some sanctioning body silliness, trickeration with belts and such, but Ali had had his (for real!) last fight in December of 1981. His aura still hung around, and not in a bad way, in all. Sugar Ray Leonard would be there to take the torch, boxers still made the Sports Illustrated covers, and the sport was not the niche sport it is today.
Now, this one is BIG. The promoters have done a bangup job, Bob Arum and ESPN and the PBC and Fox crews have banged the right drums long and hard and to good effect. But yes, Cooney is right, Wilder v Fury 2 is an anticipated spectacle, but the pool has shrunk. We need another Mike Tyson sort of animal to bring it back to the level Cooney is referring to.
That aside, let's not stay stuck in compare and contrast mode. There is more interest in the Fury v Wilder sequel, from mainstream, non niche platforms, than we've seen since Tyson was active. That's largely because an ESPN, say, has a vested interest in seeing this fight succeed. They have a dog in the hunt. As they partner up with Top Rank, they ARE a dog in the hunt. This alliance building is simply brilliant business, and by the way, the same can be said for what Al Haymon did in signing on with FOX. Because Fox has a vested interest in seeing PBC succeed, because they have money invested in the PBC product, they are more than likely to spend time and money on reporting on the bout.
Anyway…What does Cooney think will happen in the ring tonight? “I think Wilder gotta catch Fury sometime with the right hand,” Cooney said.
We both agreed we love how the beefed up Wilder looks, but…
…But Cooney would like him to fight smarter, not harder, if he wants to have the best chance to win.
“Aim six inches lower,” Cooney said. Meaning, jab the chest. Makes sense, Fury has the best head movement of any heavyweight, it's hard to target. Aim for the chest, it doesn't slip and slide as much.
But Gerry, Wilder is who he is–a head-hunter, every part of him, I pointed out.
I talked to Deontay's trainer Mark Breland on Tuesday, for the lost TALKBOX podcast, and the Brooklyner said he'd love for Deontay to be jab happy tonight. But he is who he is, Mark, I screamed, and Breland laughed.
Back to what the two time title challenger Cooney thinks will happen. “But you gotta change if you wanna be better,” Cooney noted.
And if Wilder doesn't show some tweaks, improvements off the first fight, then “Fury can outbox him,” Cooney finished.
“Anyway,” he said, “it's magnetic out here. But not like Holmes-Cooney, that one was anticipated for a long time.”