Even if you don’t follow boxing closely, you probably remember watching Tyson Fury emerge from the grave.
That was three years ago, in Fury vs Deontay Wilder Part 1. On Saturday, two men completed their brutal Tripitaka. Fury won again in a match that included five knockdowns.
Before it all started, you understood what the super-heavyweight division was supposed to look like – Anthony Joshua was cast as the superhero; Fury and Wilder will play Gun 1 and Gun 2.
Now Joshua is making a slow fade while his former punching bags benefit from the iconic boxing rivalry of the 21st century.
how did this happen?
It’s not down to any fighter’s pugilistic qualities. They’re both more Buster Douglas than Mike Tyson – giant men shuffling around the ring, absorbing punishment, looking for an opening.
Neither is particularly compelling on camera, although Fury loves to talk. Neither comes across as cuddly, or has much crossover star potential.
Instead they have something that has become a fashionable conversation topic in sports, but people still crave – they know how to suffer.
Fury may be the biggest victim in boxing history. Half the time you see him, he’ll lie on his back like a giant, rough turtle, trying to make his way up to half-staff.
It was Fury’s ability to suffer that made his first fight with Wilder a cult event. In the 12th round, Wilder tied the knot strongly. Fury was already waning when Wilder hit straight to the chin with an in-swinging left hook.
Have you ever experienced a little bit of the power of a professional fighter? I stood behind a heavy bag while a former world middleweight champion warmed to it. His slow, deliberate strokes were descending so forcefully, I was coming off the floor. It was – and I mean it in the dictionary sense of the word – a terrifying experience.
I don’t care to imagine being hit in the head by that guy, much less by someone who is twice his size, like Wilder.
So, it’s no surprise that Fury fainted as soon as he hit the mat. He was stretched out in such a way as to suggest that he would never rise again. Wilder was already celebrating his knockout win.
Then the eyes of fury opened. The referee counted an inch from his nose, Fury rolled over and got up.
When the referee asked him to walk back and forth to one side of the ring, Fury did so politely, as if he was afraid to wake up the whole house. Then he fought. It ended in a draw.
Wilder went into that match with a reputation as the most dangerous finisher in the game. Fury didn’t win, but he did steal Wilder’s secret. The next two fights were Wilder’s unsuccessful attempts to fix it.
Those who were not fans of boxing cling to the fundamental virtue of rivalry. In a world where everything is cleverly packaged, there was something fishy and blue-collar about Wilder vs. Fury.
They didn’t like each other. It was quite clear. But it wasn’t the usual boxing bullshit where two men confront a foamy abomination during the sales portion of the run-up, and then later embrace it and go sailing together.
This was real outrage. This is when you realize that the other person has something you need and all your options are zero sum. After it is over, only one name is going to come out.
So, like Fury, Wilder also committed himself to suffering.
For Fury, that suffering was physical. He is not exactly what you would call a “good body”. You see him swinging around the ring and worrying that this poor guy is going home on a stretcher. It seems that he invites big shots hoping to frustrate his opponents.
For Wilder, suffering existed.
The second fight was advertised as an opportunity to finish the job. Instead, fury destroyed him. Wilder’s corner threw in the towel, escalating the humiliation. The Next Big Thing was suddenly the little friend of the New Big Thing.
Big blow here – Wilder didn’t handle it very well. He came up with all kinds of cornball excuses for losing. Best of them all – that an elaborate cosplay knight outfit she wore to the ring was so heavy, it took away her strength.
By Saturday, Fury didn’t have much to lose (except, possibly, his life). He improved his smoky game – “I can even take it slow with him. punish him. tell him not anymoreIt looked like he was having fun with it.
In contrast, Wilder’s approach was now a more tortured artist than that of Preening Star. go figure. His professional was on the prison d’एtre line. Wilder talked about how much he’s changed in the nearly two years between the second and third fights. He explained this change in metaphors about reconstruction.
As it turned out, not enough. The third and final encounter (?)
Once again, Wilder looked like the winner before it even started. His muscles have muscles. But once they started swinging, the consequences of jumping rope were not obvious.
The momentum shifted back and forth until the roles were reversed. Fury had beaten Wilder to death, but could not bring him down. The attacks intensified. You realized for a moment that this time, finally, Wilder might have a chance to catch some luck and rise from the dead.
But in the 11th round, Fury turned Wilder and fell on him with a terrifying blow to Temple.
“Those shots end careers,” Fury later said.
He’s right, though not in the way he meant.
Wilder will likely fight again, but his legacy is now irrevocable. When he is remembered, he will be with fury. His name will always come second.
And so the suffering continues.