Premium Issue Opinion

Fury vs Wilder – ‘Witnessing greatness’

heavyweight Deontay Wilder vs Fury
Wilder vs Fury of course dominates George Gigney's boxing media review

BROADCASTS
THERE’S no point starting anywhere else; for a mammoth event, BT Sport put on a mammoth broadcast that ran from midnight to 7am. There wasn’t any actual boxing until around 100 minutes in, though this was always billed as a four-fight telecast, so if anyone was up and spent that first couple of hours feeling shortchanged, that’s on them.

Although the Wilder-Fury II undercard was atrocious, the show didn’t feel overly bloated. Given the size of the fight, plenty of big-name fighters – active and retired – flocked to the MGM Grand and the cameras picked them all up, filling time while we waited for the big one. There were a few misplaced ringside interviews with the likes of Vinnie Jones and Gordon Ramsay – who no doubt know their boxing, but can’t exactly be considered experts – that made the £25 pay-per-view fee a little harder to swallow.

David Haye, who was doing punditry and providing colour commentary in between rounds, didn’t shy away when praising Fury on his performance, stating that he had “witnessed greatness” in Las Vegas. To his credit, despite picking Wilder to win, from the very first round Haye wasn’t afraid to critique the defending champion as Fury bludgeoned him around the ring.

There perhaps wasn’t quite enough consideration on commentary around the possibility of Wilder’s ear being injured – plenty thought his eardrum was perforated in the third, though at the time of writing that’s not been confirmed.

The on-screen team were also unanimous in their desire for Fury to now go on and fight Anthony Joshua – a Sky fighter – rather than a trilogy fight with Wilder, providing further proof that none on either side of the UK broadcast divide try to operate in a vacuum.

One thing that struck me about the broadcast was how well the build into the main event was handled. There weren’t any poorly placed advert breaks – in fact, there were very few breaks – and nothing was dragged out. Though BT’s foray into the PPV sphere is still in its infancy, they’ve firmly proved themselves a legitimate competitor to Sky Sports.

Prior to their PPV show, BT also had a broadcast live from London that ran from 8pm through to midnight, totalling 11 straight hours of boxing programming. Their new agreement with ITV also began on Saturday night, with the latter portion of the York Hall card also being aired on the terrestrial channel. That partnership could be huge for the sport.

Sky continued their coverage of the Golden Contract tournament on Friday night, and credit to the commentary team for their balanced calling of the Tyrone McKenna-Mohamed Mimoune bout, which ended in a controversial decision in favour of McKenna.

YOUTUBE
Unsurprisingly there was a huge amount of content pushed out over the past week, though perhaps the most excessive was the official final press conference chaired by Joe Tessitore, who did his best to keep the quarrelling heavyweights at bay.

The event stretched to an hour and – due to it being broadcast live on TV in America – actually had advert breaks. I’ve never seen anything like it. On YouTube, this meant we just had silent footage of Wilder and Fury sitting a little awkwardly on stage during those advert breaks. However, it was definitely a step up from past press conferences for huge fights, which usually feature a stream of executives giving pointless speeches ad nauseam.

The press conference was emblematic of the strain put on both fighters by their media obligations during fight week, which seemed to be on another scale to anything prior.

The post-fight press conference was a lot more interesting, particularly as Wilder’s trainer, Jay Deas, shed some light on the corner’s decision to throw in the towel. He confirmed it was Mark Breland who threw it, but also said he disagreed with the decision – as did Wilder himself – arguing that he would rather his man go out on his shield. That’s a worrying comment; a trainer should never be braver than their fighter, but perhaps it is more a case of Deas trying to remain in Wilder’s good books. Indeed, footage from the corner of Breland throwing in the towel shows Deas not protesting at all.

In the mayhem of Fury’s dressing room after the fight, BT managed to grab his new trainer, SugarHill Steward. In a bizarre move, Steward said he’s now considering retiring as a trainer of professional fighters as he’s now achieved everything he wanted to. Where that would leave Fury after their wildly successful collaboration is anybody’s guess.

In ESPN’s post-fight analysis, Max Kellerman made an interesting observation about the first knockdown and how, technically, the right hand that dropped Wilder was around the back of the head and technically illegal. If it transpires that Wilder’s equilibrium was disrupted by that shot because of an ear injury, Kellerman explored the idea of that being used as a selling point for a trilogy fight.

Tyson Fury
Mikey Williams/Top Rank

PODCASTS
There are few things I enjoy more than an instant analysis post-fight podcast. The 5 Live with Costello and Bunce episode was typically enlightening. They grabbed a word with Andy Lee, part of Fury’s camp, who highlighted the significance of Fury winning in the seventh round. Emanuel Steward was born on July 7 and both his first and second names consist of seven letters. Lee also said he wouldn’t give away any secrets when Fury’s weight was brought up, perhaps suggesting Tyson wasn’t as heavy on the night. Fury was seen chugging water just before the weigh in, so his official weight may have been some sort of ploy.

On that same episode, Frank Warren described Fury’s performance as the best he’s ever seen from a British fighter – a huge statement from someone as experienced as Warren.

The Fight Disciples provided entertaining coverage during fight week, though some of their views after the fight seemed short-sighted. The pair argued that Anthony Joshua is now a “paper champion” and his titles no longer hold meaning in the wake of Fury’s win, which is nonsense. It’s one thing to say Fury is now the division leader, but another thing entirely to completely disregard Joshua’s achievements.

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