TEAM FURY’S FURY
Fury doesn’t do enough to beat the beatable Parker, but the decision leaves Hennessy spitting mad
Hughie and co are not happy with the judges as Joseph Parker gets the nod
DO you prefer your heavyweights to be on their bike for 12 rounds, flicking out ineffectual jabs? Or do you prefer your heavyweights to come forward like cavemen, swinging and mostly missing? Granted, it’s not much of a choice.
After this show at the Manchester Arena, that glorious spring night at Wembley Stadium, when Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko breathed great lungfuls of hope into the heavyweight division, seemed already of another era. At least Joseph Parker’s victory over Hughie Fury, which meant the New Zealander hung on to his WBO title, came with a side of comic relief.
Mick Hennessy’s assertion that Fury’s performance had “shades of Ali” proved a big hit on social media. Ali G? Ali Osman, the cabby from Eastenders? The England cricketer Moeen? Pretty much any Ali but the great Muhammad. Hennessy inadvertently hit upon why his comparison was so absurd when he referred to Fury “touching Parker with his jab”. The peak Ali combined perpetual backwards motion with blinding handspeed, spiteful combinations and genuine
knockout power. Cleveland Williams didn’t look like he had been “touched”, while he lay flat on his back in Houston. Neither did Zora Folley, while he lay flat on his face in New York. Neither did Ernie Terrell, while he recovered in a hospital bed, after a savage 15-round beating.
That Hennessy should invite such ridicule was unfair on Fury. There is much to be admired about a heavyweight who moves so gracefully, while being stalked by a 245lb man. Unfortunately for Fury, the sight of a heavyweight slipping and sliding and doing not much else begins to lose its appeal after a few rounds, especially when most of the jabs the Manchester fighter’s promoter were so enamoured with were actually landing short of the target. There is no doubt that Fury made Parker look decidedly ordinary at times. Despite a 17-month sabbatical, the home fighter looked sharp and elusive in the early stages, landing with a clever right-hand counter in the second before repeating the dose in the third. There followed a left uppercut in the fourth, before a clash of heads opened a cut over Fury’s right eye.
Parker began to close the distance in the fifth and found the target with two clubbing overhand rights in rounds six and seven, as Fury began to tire. A Parker left hook, followed by another right, had the challenger holding on in round nine, by which stage it was beginning to make for frustrating viewing for the Fury faithful: having proved he had the requisite whiskers to take a solid Parker shot, why wasn’t Fury taking more chances down the stretch?
The challenger soaked up another couple of humdingers in round 12, and after the final bell sounded, it was difficult to know whether the unabandoned celebrations of Fury’s team were justified or merely the result of wishful thinking. There were journalists ringside who thought Fury was the victor, others who had Parker nicking it, others who had Parker winning it comfortably. For the record, this journalist awarded it 116-112 to Parker. Essentially, the judges had a choice: vote for the man who landed with not a lot on the back foot, or the man who landed with not a lot on the front foot. Certainly, the scorecard that read 114114 (from Rocky Young) seemed most realistic. But that two of the judges (john Madfis and Terry O’connor) had the Kiwi prevailing 118-110 was surely not, as Hennessy claimed, “corruption at the highest level”, but simply a question of interpretation.
Some will wonder how Tyson Fury, Hughie’s cousin, managed to swing a decision against Wladimir Klitschko in Germany, having not thrown much either. But there was an obvious difference: Klitschko barely threw anything in
THE SCORECARD THAT READ 114-114 SEEMED MOST REALISTIC
HUNTER v HUNTED: Parker [left] tries to pin down Fury
FUTURE ECHOES? At times, Fury [above, right] looks like a champion in the making as he bewitches Parker
NOT HAPPY: Tyson [left] cannot believe his ears as the decision goes against his cousin