Fury vs Wilder quick review!

Well what an astonishing fight, that one really delivered. Whether or not you like Tyson Fury; and he does divide opinion, I don’t see how any sports fan can fail to be impressed by what he has done in the last year, and last night.

As to the result look I had it 115 – 111 even with the Knock downs, I only gave Wilder the 2nd. I could see an argument for him having won the 6th. And several of the rounds had little action so could conceivably have been draws if you weren’t paying attention (though actually I think they were all wide rounds for Fury).

I didn’t like the drawn card, but I wasn’t outraged by it. But…. what Rochin was thinking on his wide card for Wilder I do not know. I share Pauli Malinaggi’s outrage and feeling like Rochin should not be officiating in top level boxing ever again. That card was a joke.

Having said that what a great performance from Tyson Fury he rolled back the years and was something close to his best with some masterful control of distance and angles. He didn’t just nick rounds he dominated them. And through most of the fight he was the one doing damage; a couple of times he wobbled Wilder and with a bit more fitness and ring condition I think he could conceivably have stopped him.

Fury said in the build up that this was his comeback fight (like most of us writing off the two glorified sparring session he was in earlier in the year) and for him to box like he did, under those circumstances is astonishing. The good news for Fury is that he is only likely to get better.

The whole narrative of the build up was that Fury is the better boxer but that it only takes one punch from Wilder to equalise things. This of course, at least on the cards, proved partially true. But the real story is that it didn’t work for Wilder.

Fury got up.

Not once, but twice.

Seemingly from the dead!

I’m not sure I have seen anything quite like it except in WWE or the films like “Rocky” or “Snatch”. It was the kind of recovery that you feel almost had to be scripted. I still can’t quite believe it. Tyson Fury’s powers of recovery are exceptional.

So where does this leave us? I’m not sure any of it looks good for Deontay Wilder. I don’t think his standing is in any way enhanced. He looked like a second rate slugger just hoping to win the lottery (the criticism many make of him). Going into any rematch I think it will weigh heavy on his shoulders that against Fury at least he doesn’t necessarily have to “just get lucky for one second”.

Despite his talk and bravado, he’ll know in his heart of hearts he got lucky. And I think he will really wonder what he can do differently next time. If Fury didn’t get into his head in this build up I guarantee he will in the build up to any rematch.

For Fury it is hard not to see how he won’t improve in terms of his ring condition and his readiness for elite level sport. In some respects I think the knock downs might be good for Fury. A reminder that he needs to keep himself honest and on his toes, and it will stop him under estimating Wilder in any rematch. Whilst I sincerely doubt Wilder has it in his locker to do much different Tyson does. For one thing he barely utilised the switch hitting; I think that will give him another dimension and I think if Fury is sensible he wins the rematch at a canter.

So will it actually happen? All the right noises were made immediately post fight; though I was a bit concerned at Wilder saying maybe not his next fight.

I was very surprised that Wilder’s handlers took this fight because everything in the past suggested they don’t take risks with him. For me the calculation was that they thought Fury was either shot, or hadn’t had time to get ready. A calculated risk.

And now they know. They know that their man lost if the are honest. And that Tyson Fury will almost certainly be much better in a rematch.

I think that Wilder’s people may well run a mile from a rematch. I hope I am wrong but watch this space.

Well done Tyson Fury, once again doing something to open up the heavyweight division. And all of boxing will benefit. Great stuff!

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02. December 2018 by Ralph Ferrett
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Wilder vs Fury preview

One of the things I find most depressing about the state of the world today is the hyper-partisan nature of everything. The lack of nuance and shades of grey. The “With us or against us” nature of discourse on the interewebz.

And the sphere in which it seems to be worst, even more than our febrile politics, is in sport. It’s not enough to like a team or sportsperson; you have to hate the opposition and believe that any loss or bad performance is down to some sort of awful conspiracy.

On Saturday night two undefeated big beasts, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, will fight and the winner will be both the Lineal and WBC champ. Then sometime next year the winner will fight Anthony Joshua and for the first time in a generation will have an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

It seems for many people you have to decide which one of these you support, and the other two are de-facto bums, charlatans and chancers. This is the law of the internet.

Personally though I like all three, in different ways, and not unreservedly, both in and out of the ring. I think it is a fascinating era for heavyweight boxing and I’m enjoying it. For me, what is best is I really don’t know what is going to happen. They are all so very different and well matched.

For our competitors on Saturday one of the things that makes the bout so interesting and compelling is the number of question marks about both of them.

First up the defending champ Deontay Wilder. Wilder is such fun to watch; in great bit of nominative determinism he really is “wild”. I think it is fair to say the least skilled of the top guys, though by no means the utterly crude brawler he is sometimes portrayed as. Wilder was after all an Olympian who won Bronze at Heavyweight in Bejing in 2008 (though both the Heavys and the Super heavy’s probably a poor vintage; the only other notable pro from 2008 is David Price).

What he lacks in “sugar” he more than makes up for with power. I think many people who haven’t watched too many of his fights probably don’t really grasp what a one hit quitter Wilder really is. My view is that he is the hardest puncher in boxing today in any division. He has the kind of power that can stop people even when he doesn’t land cleanly. I’m always a bit sceptical about putting too much stock by reports from sparring; but having said that virtually everyone who has ever sparred with him states that he is a monster puncher even with 20oz gloves and headguards.

He combines this with being incredibly athletic and quick around the ring. Despite his 6 ft 7 in height, he regularly weighs in at around 15 ½ stone for fights, and he has a good engine. On top of that he has a huge reach even for someone as tall as he is. This blend of power, athleticism, reach and unorthodox brawling make Wilder extremely fun to watch, unpredictable and a genuine puzzle for anyone who steps in the ring with him.

But, as I said at the top there are question marks. And the really big “?” with Wilder is whether or not he is actually any good. All but the most died in the wool Wilder partisans would have to admit that mostly his match making has been pretty weak. In three years as a champ he hasn’t had a single unification bout. Only taken (and reluctantly at that) two mandatories when faced with being stripped.

And there are real question marks about even his signature bouts. Bermane Stiverne wasn’t a particularly impressive champion; his only wins of note prior to the Wilder defence were against a fading (and in the opinion of this author, not very good in the first place) Chris Arreola. Even before the bout with Wilder there were rumours that Stiverne had lost the plot after winning the belt and hadn’t trained well (whilst… ahem… living very well!). Wilder won a comprehensive points victory in a dull fight. And by the time Stiverne mystifyingly got a rematch as a mandatory challenger he was obviously no longer a professional athlete in any meaningful sense, having turned up just for the pay cheque.

His other signature bout was against Luis Ortiz in which Wilder showed some real mettle to come from behind against a genuinely world rated opponent. Now this was a good victory and unlike Stiverne I do think Ortiz a genuine top 10 fighter. Even then I do think Ortiz is over rated, for all he looked great against Bryant Jennings in 2015; I defy any fan to sit through the Ortiz vs Dave Allen or Malik Scott fights and tell me that Ortiz is unambiguously world class.

I think you can make a very strong argument this Fury fight is the first time that Wilder has ever stepped into the ring with a genuinely top opponent; and as such we really don’t know how good he actually is.

The same cannot be said for Tyson Fury, his signature win, dethroning Wladimir Klitschko in his own backyard was unambiguously a great win, against a great opponent, at the pinnacle of the sport. That the fight was as dull as ditch water (and it really was awful to watch) shouldn’t detract from how masterful Fury was that night.

His punching, or lack thereof, might not have thrilled. But his control of distance, angles and his amazing footwork was more akin to watching a top middleweight than a 6 ft 9 in monster of a big man.

The reality is that he utterly dominated a future hall of fame champion from start to finish. I’d argue it was the most dominant performance in a world heavyweight title fight since Lennox Lewis stopped Mike Tyson.

I think you can make a convincing argument that Anthony Joshua’s recent run of mandatory defences and unification bouts (including his own Wlad fight) gives him the stronger overall resume, no one amongst the big men has as significant a win on their record as Fury.

My view is that the version of Tyson Fury that stepped into the ring in Dusseldorf in 2015 would school Wilder with consummate ease….

But this is back to the question marks. And with Fury the big question mark is will we ever see anything even remotely resembling that Fury ever again. Years out of the ring, ballooning to 27 stone, drink and recreational drug abuse for a sustained period of time. Can he ever really get himself into the shape of a truly elite athlete? Even if he could get there eventually is there any chance of him having done that without a single meaningful fight? I think Fury’s pulling back from the brink is an amazing and admirable one, but it is hard to imagine he is already back.

Both the Seferi and Pianeta fights were basically exhibition bouts that did not test Fury in any meaningful sense; neither give us any hint that he is ready to rumble at elite level again. This combined with changing trainer, allegedly a difficult and troubled camp and a late change to his corner (with Freddy Roach joining his team at the 11th hour). Can Tyson Fury be anything like his best at this stage? I personally rather doubt it.

For my 2 cents Fury is by a significant margin the better boxer; and usually all things being even ish in size I’d almost always pick the boxer over the puncher. If I didn’t have the concerns I do about Fury’s fitness and sharpness levels I’d probably go with that.

But…. Even a fit and focussed Fury gives you chances to hit him. In the bout against Wlad he had to eat a couple of huge punches in the dying rounds. Against Wilder that will probably be lights out. I don’t truly believe we will have an elite level Tyson Fury (though I very much hope I am wrong) in the ring on Saturday.

So my TL:DR is this, I think Deontay Wilder will probably knock Tyson Fury out in the early rounds. However I wouldn’t want to put much money on that.

On the other hand I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if Fury utterly schooled Wilder on the way to a lopsided points with or a late stoppage. He shocked the world in Dusseldorf and doing the same again is clearly “In his locker”. He shouldn’t be written off.

I love it when you get a pick ‘em fight where you honestly don’t know in advance what the likely outcome will be. Boxing at it’s best! Let’s hope the fight is a cracker and the winner get’s in the ring with Joshua sooner rather than later.

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27. November 2018 by Ralph Ferrett
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Bellew v Haye II preview

Like, I think, most fight fans I expected the first Haye vs Bellew fight to be over pretty quickly. Haye was, I felt, just too big, too strong, too quick and too good for Bellew. Given that Bellew had often been unable to handle the power of Light Heavyweights, and Haye is notoriously a monster puncher I just couldn’t see past an easy Haye victory. I was imagining an pair of smoking boots in the middle of the ring a la a scene from Asterix.

Clearly this was an opinion that David Haye shared and it was clear from the outset that he didn’t really consider it a challenge, hadn’t prepared properly, and wasn’t in any way ready for what happened in the ring. The loss that ensued has clearly hurt Haye more than anything else in his career.

I like Bellew a lot, I know he is a bit marmite for some fans but I love listening to him talk about boxing, even when I profoundly disagree with him. I think he has a great analytical boxing brain and how he thinks about the sport is often full of fascinating insights.

Of course he called the first fight pretty much right. Almost all of what he described and predicted, pre fight, ultimately came to pass. Now it has been very interesting listening to him break down what he thinks is going to happen in the next fight.

He contends, very convincingly, that even though David Haye is going to be better, and better prepared the result will be no different. That his superior boxing brain, and his superior ability to adapt in the ring (both things are true for my money), combined with having a style that is all wrong for Haye mean that not only will he repeat the feat of the first fight but he will do so more impressively whether or not Haye gets injured this time.

He is big on the styles thing. He rightly talks about how if it was always just the biggest, most skilled fighter who won the sport would be dull. But that boxing excited because it isn’t always a case that if (A beats B), and (B beats C) then (A beats C). Different styles sometimes mean that the “on paper” superior fighter can’t get past someone who has their number. And Bellew absolutely believes that he has Haye’s number.

Truth is when I listen to Bellew I come away almost convinced. Almost, but not quite. You see I think that whilst his win in the first fight was very impressive. I do think that he is telling himself some fairy stories about what happened and engaging in some historical revisionism.

I think that even David Haye’s biggest fan (that almost certainly being David Haye) would admit that he was god awful in the first few rounds of the first fight. He looked every inch the man who had not had a meaningful professional boxing match in 5 years (I’m not counting the De Mori and Gjergjaj exhibitions as real fights). He was inaccurate, rusty, disrespectful and sloppy. He was even breathing worrying hard by the end of the third.

My suspicion is that Bellew chooses to suspend his critical faculties from this point onward though because for my money from the end of the third onward Haye starting bucking up, showing some of his skills and the rust was coming off. He starting landing more and landing better. I honestly believe that had Haye not received the injury he did then he would have landed hard and some point in the next couple of rounds, which I suspect would have been lights out for Bellew.

But he did get that injury, and a ruptured achilles tendon is not some minor little hurt that a pro sportsman can shrug off. And this is really, for me, where the wheels start falling off Bellew’s analysis of the first fight and the prospects for Saturday’s bout. Because despite suffering a career threatening injury Haye managed to hang around, and still pose a modicum of threat, for another six rounds.

Ultimately Tony Bellew was unable to put away a one legged David Haye, who clearly hadn’t had a proper camp and hadn’t taken the fight seriously. In the end the fight required Haye’s corner to throw in the towel to stop the fight that Bellew couldn’t.

So for me, in what constituted a career highlight performance, Bellew couldn’t quite get over the line in what turned out to be the most benign possible conditions for him in a fight with David Haye.

Now Haye’s body can’t be relied upon any longer. It is, I think, eminently possible that he will suffer another injury that allows Tony Bellew to repeat the trick of the first fight. I actually think that this is a seriously likely possibility, I might even drop a few quid on this happening.

But, I think if Haye is fit throughout the fight, if he has taken his camp more seriously (as it seems he has) I think his superior size, strength, skill and power will tell in the later rounds. I think Bellew is a canny enough boxer that he will make things difficult for several rounds; but I just can’t see him preventing a fit Haye from landing clean for 12 whole rounds. Bellew has to get lucky for 36 minutes constantly. Haye has to get lucky for 2 seconds once.

Haye via KO in the seventh.  

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29. April 2018 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Sport | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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