Former champion casts ‘concern and bitterness’ over wildly contested heavyweight bout | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Former champion casts ‘concern and bitterness’ over wildly contested heavyweight bout

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Champion Tyson Fury defended his WBC heavyweight title against former champion Deontay Wilder with an 11th-round KO on Oct. 9 in Las Vegas.

PHOTO: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

In the third round, Fury sunk the challenger with a right hook, and in the following four rounds, Wilder hit his signature right hand and took the champion down twice. The fight continued to be a slugfest between two of the biggest men in the heavyweight division.

Wilder was hit by the champion’s right hand in the 10th and 11th rounds and fell forward respectively.

The referee stopped the fight at 1:10 of the 11th round, considering the damage to the challenger.

PHOTO: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions

“I did my best. I did my best, but it wasn’t enough to be the winner. I honestly don’t know what happened ……,” said the loser. Wilder gave it everything he had and lost.

The crowd of 15,820 at the T-Mobile Arena was intoxicated by the thrill of the fight.

PHOTO:Mikey Williams / Top Rank

There were four heavyweight fights on the card, but the main event was a different story, as the fans were delighted to see the two-meter-plus heavyweights punching each other in a spectacular fashion.

At the post-fight press conference, Bob Aram, co-promoter of the event, laughed at a joke saying, “I want to apologize to all the fans who paid a lot of money to see such a boring fight,” and then said, “I’ve never seen such a noble fight. I’ve never seen such a noble game.

Alam, a Harvard Law School graduate and hotshot lawyer, got into the boxing business in 1966. He promoted Muhammad Ali, and in the 1980s, he created a “league” of four middleweight champions, including Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran.

Since the 90’s, he has been putting on fights for the top pound-for-pound fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

The Fury vs. Wilder fight was the third meeting between the two, but the Evander Holyfield vs. Riddick Bowe three-fight series was a much higher level fight in the heavyweight division in the 1990s. The WBC heavyweight title fight on October 9 was certainly one of the most exciting fights in recent years, but it also showed the stagnation of the top weight class. I can’t help but feel that Alam’s comments came from a sense of crisis that he is fully aware of.

Tim Witherspoon, former world heavyweight champ (WBC in 1984, WBA in 1986), who was selected as a commentator for the UK media and witnessed Fury vs. Wilder 3 as a reporter, also shared his thoughts.

Tim Witherspoon, former world heavyweight champ (WBC in 1984, WBA in 1986), who was at ringside to watch the fight, told us, “I was sitting at ringside, so I could tell the crowd was heating up. I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed it because it was two big heavyweights going at it hard, and I know some of the fans who bought the PPV went crazy.” It was a show that I can describe as “OK”.

But to be honest with you, I was disappointed. Boxing is an art form. Ali’s KO of Sonny Liston, his three-fight series with Frazier, the top four middleweights of the 80’s, Mike Tyson…it was beautiful. Mike Tyson was beautiful in the ring, the kind of beauty that makes you sigh when you look at a painting.

A man at the top of the heavyweight division is expected to have grace and grandeur. Both Fury and Wilder have good stuff, but they don’t make the most of it. What they lack is defense. If you’re going to beat each other, then you’re going to have problems defending each other. No matter how much you please the fans, they don’t know anything about the pain of a retired boxer.

In my opinion, Fury vs. Wilder 3 is Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed. The exchange of downs is exciting, yes. But it’s not a movie. If a boxer gets hit too hard, he has to live with the disability. I respect the effort he put into it, but the way Wilder went down was dangerous.

Tim was friendly but stern in his comments (photo by Soichi Hayashi)

Wilder, who was KO’d in the 7th round 19 months ago, was pretty banged up. The decision to throw in the towel was the right one. But Wilder fired his longtime chief trainer and hired Malik Scott, a former opponent whom he had easily knocked out in the first round, as his trainer.

Wilder hires his former opponent Scott as his trainer (PHOTO: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

“I understand why a boxer would want to learn from a loss and try to make up for what he lacks. But I couldn’t understand why they brought in the unproven Scott. For Scott, it was such a great offer. Usually, trainers get 10 percent of the fight money of the fighters they take in. Both Fury and Wilder were guaranteed $25 million in fight money alone this time.

But I don’t think Scott can teach them anything. He’s not the level of trainer to teach the world heavyweight champion. So I asked Wilder directly at the press conference in Las Vegas. I asked Wilder directly at the press conference in Las Vegas, “What did you sign up with the new trainer to get? I asked him directly at the press conference in Las Vegas. But he didn’t give me a clear answer.

Fury, the champion who won the gold medal in February 2020, had Sugar Hill Steward as his new coach. I’m told that Sugar Hill is Emanuel Steward’s nephew. But he’s not known as a boxer or a trainer.”

Emanuel Steward, who passed away in December 2012 at the age of 68, is the father of Thomas Hearns, one of the top four middleweights mentioned above. He trained not only Hearns, but also WBC welterweight champion Milton McCrory and WBO light heavyweight champion Michael Moeller.

His skills were highly regarded, and he was a long-time second for Mike Tyson’s last world title match opponent, former unified heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. When Lewis lost his WBC heavyweight title in September 1994, he decided that the only way to revitalize himself was to take lessons from his opponent’s chief strategist, Steward, and worked with him until his retirement.

Steward coaching Lewis (Photo: Soichi Hayashi)

“There’s not a person in boxing who doesn’t know about Emanuel’s achievements. There’s no one in boxing who doesn’t know about Emanuel’s achievements, but even my nephew doesn’t know how he learned to be a trainer. But even my nephew doesn’t know how he learned to be a trainer. When you were covering Lewis’ camp, did you ever see Sugar Hill at camp?”

Indeed, I could only answer no to Tim’s question.

“If a fighter can turn boxing into an art form, his defense will shine through. Ali’s footwork would have kept him at bay. Marvin Hagler had a solid guard and was a good blocker. Sugar Ray and Mayweather Jr. were ducking punches by a paper-thin margin.

You can’t take a punch. Both Fury and Wilder have too little awareness of defense. What the hell are the trainers teaching them? They need to work on their skills, that’s all I felt. When I compared the two, Fury’s defense was slightly superior. That was the difference between them.

Wilder didn’t parry, block, or headslip, he just wanted to land his punches on Fury. He showed heart, but his body couldn’t take it with that style. If I had learned to defend myself, I could have been a super champion.

I need to work on my defensive skills more… (PHOTO: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions)

Fury would win if he fought WBA/IBF/WBO unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk has the skills, but he’s too small to be a cruiserweight by nature. Fury is 15 centimeters and 25 kilograms taller than him, so one hit and it’s over, and Usyk can’t get in Fury’s pocket.

What I really feel when I look at the heavyweight division today is that there are no good trainers. The world heavyweight champion can now make a whopping $25 million. The promoters and TV networks just want the business to succeed. That’s the way it’s always been.

But as a trainer, you have to think not only about the money, but also about winning so that the fighters in your care don’t get hurt.

Tim Witherspoon, who stayed in the ring until the age of 45 with his no-hitting boxing, raised five children without suffering from serious damage. And now he lives with his fifth daughter, who is 11 years old.

His words come from knowing how hard life can be for a retired fighter.

For more on Tim Witherspoon’s fierce life, please see my book, “Fist of Minorities.

  • Reporting and writing by Soichi Hayashi

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