“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
– Albert Einstein
He looks nervous. That ain’t the sweat of a warmed-up man ready for war, it’s more of the “I’m not sure I got this– but fuck it, let’s do this!” vibe dripping from the brow of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19KOs) as he rocks n strolls his way to the ring as only a gypsy would. He’s so flamboyant Los Angeles in a down-to-earth kind of way from England, in as much as WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39KOs) is an ostentatious New Yorker from his own “Ground Zero” in Alabama.
We know that HBO was the stuff of movies in “Creed II” over Thanksgiving in America, but it feels like SHOWTIME PPV has us all in a Hollywood production all too real beyond the reels.
You do know where Wilder V Fury was shot, right?
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By now, you know that Tyson Fury would go on to retain his lineal heavyweight championship via 12 round unanimous robbery, according to the real judges (you) with still erect middle fingers who know Fury got fucked with a Draw.
Very rarely does a writer want to really be proven wrong; often there’s an ego involved with a stake in the outcome, the kind designed to evoke an “Aha! See, I was right!” moment in a world gone mad with narcissism. Both Wilder himself and promoter Lou DiBella would remind me of that in ways subliminal during an unforgettable post fight presser. I knew I was wrong about Fury being bludgeoned by Wilder in two the minute I saw him making his way to the ring in front of 17,698 Staples Center fans full of anxiety. It was all there to covet and admire– he cared too much about winning on the big stage in a very non-Mike Tyson way; whereas that Tyson made fear a friend, this one chose to respect it as an enemy, undaunted by the face of a KO artist literally masquerading as a golden man of doom. There was Wilder, who would’ve most likely scared the shit out of Tom Cruise on the set of “Eyes Wide Shut” totally exacerbating Fury’s uncertainty with a psychological medley of doubt, complete with what felt and sounded like explosions from the production crew during the “Bomb Squad” ring walk.
That Fury allowed nothing of significance to land from a Wilder throwing shots loaded with electrocution during the first half of the fight was… shocking. Still, I figured at some point, even if Fury truly came to win as he did, that he’d run into voltage never seen before in the heavyweight division, serving as the basis for my own alternate prediction of a 9th round KO. So when he went down in the 9th, the inner darkside of me was sinfully delighted with pride– but that dissipated quickly. By the 12th, I was looking for Fury to pull off what was his masterpiece and a unanimous decision, for on my scorecard, not even a knockdown could save Wilder from losing his WBC belt. He needed a KO to win, Alejandro Rochin and apparent advice from Adalaide Byrd be damned. With plenty of time left in that final frame, Fury ran into the apex edition of Wilder’s lethal right hand with maximum leverage and a Sunday punch left hook from hell to boot. As an outstretched Fury’s head is about to crash and bounce off the canvas, Wilder makes an emphatic ‘Game Over’ gesture at his gorgeous, night-on-Broadway dressed lady from ringside that SHOWTIME cameras catch screaming in slow motion “I fucking LOVE YOU”. We all thought it was over.
I thought Fury might be dead.
Earlier in the evening upon arrival at Staples Center, I entered a media dining room that felt like a posh executive movie theater with the lights on. There are monitors all around showing Adonis “Superman” Stevenson V Aleksander Gvozdyk for the WBC light heavyweight championship. It’s a nip n tuck affair that sees the mighty Canadian Stevenson nearly eviscerate Ukraine’s rising star in Gvozdyk with his famous punch from Krypton in the 9th. This, before being loaded with Kryptonite in the 11th to end his 5 1/2 year reign of terror in the division. I immediately run a ‘SUPERMAN IS DEAD” preview header on Facebook with the full intention of sending that story to editor-in-chief Michael Woods for publication on NY Fights. Upon learning of Stevenson’s grim critical condition during that 9th round of Wilder V Fury, I am wrought with guilt to the point of tears. So when lightning strikes Fury in the form of everything Wilder’s got — which we know is a lot — I just buried my head in my hands in hoped for the best. I saw Shelly Finkel, all of 74 years old, literally running to the ring apron like a frightened schoolboy. He got up and I cried.
Only one other time had I seen something like that which filled me with a sense of emotionally positive pride, and that was when Muhammad Ali was knocked down by Joe Frazier in the 15th round following being exiled from the sport he loved for challenging the U.S. government and war. As soon as his ass hit the canvas after being struck by Frazier’s left hook — which was at least the equivalent of Wilder’s overhand right, Ali, refusing to surrender all that he’d fought for, got up and I saw black people crying at ringside. But I saw that on tape as a child. This was LIVE, and Fury immediately made me a better man. Still, I’m left bewildered by what Wilder was not able to do, for no man in heavyweight history would’ve risen from that assault– Ali included. How could a man so despondent to the tune of over 400 lbs worth of drug riddled insanity and severe suicidal idealization summon the will to rise and clown and hurt Wilder after that? This is just a hunch, which in my view is always your creativity trying to tell you something, but the only thing I can think of responsible for Fury’s performance the other night is an inner pain deeper than that which Ali felt after joining the Nation of Islam and going to war with the U.S. government. Fury’s redemptive effort probably stemmed from a largely clandestine war with the U.S. government’s greatest ally in a time of censorship: the Nation of Israel.
“I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people he [sounded like Hitler]. The man is an imbecile. Seriously.”
— Wladimir Klitschko, who actually said far more than that as reported by The Guardian in June 2016
We can all learn a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism and neither should a journalist. Klitschko issued those remarks as he was set to square things with Fury in a rematch slated for July 9, 2016. In his scathing comments, Klitschko called for the suspension of Fury and incited a vicious international media scorn of the new British world champion and a United Kingdom facing the revolt of “Brexit.” Fearful that Fury’s remarks could lead to outright revolution in an absolutely violent way he was silenced and put in the closest thing to hell short of an actual oven considering the roasting he was taking away from the American public. We didn’t know because our media hid the heavyweight champion of the world’s remarks. Nevertheless, that was most likely the source of Fury’s depressive nature and bout with Hell after the Heaven of championship heights.
It says here that Fury, a man of principle almost as intense as his genuinely larger than life persona, nearly died over the ramifications of his views. I’m glad he didn’t, because we all lived to see him survive, and with dignity handle both Deontay Wilder and a boxing world that needed him to reignite the heavyweight division more than he wanted to. Fury never really apologized for those remarks, remaining positively resolute in a very Ali-like way. What I’ll remember most about this event now that its over, is that I was able to see two heavyweight champions of different colors and of the same creed that no promoter could contrive. They are both not only proud warriors, but unassailable in decency. They were genuinely affected by the plight of California firefighters, many of them on hand to witness Wilder and Fury go circa 1970’s in a modern world too often offended by class and too in touch with crass. The best of us always remain curious, and I’ll be just that during an impromptu media press conference call to take place on late Tuesday for Deontay Wilder. Curiosity is the most powerful thing Tyson Fury owns besides the WBC heavyweight championship of the world.
Oh wait, it was a Draw.