They came, they saw and left big­ger men

Daily Dispatch - - Boxing Mecca - PAUL HAY­WARD Tele­graph — Sun­day

The day after the fight, the non­com­bat­ants left town un­marked, en­ter­tained. A group of Tyson Fury’s fans ran for a cab to the air­port and broke the record for the num­ber of large men in one taxi. In­side the ho­tel they had left, Fury, with a cut face and swollen fore­head, was re­flect­ing on the du­bi­ous scor­ing that earned Deon­tay Wilder a draw in their world heavy­weight ti­tle fight.

Fury said he just wanted to get home: “I’ve got a lit­tle daugh­ter there and she’s prob­a­bly for­got­ten me. She’s only a year old.”

A sad look crept over his wife Paris’s face as she low­ered her gaze to the ta­ble.

For those out­side the ring, box­ing is a slice of en­ter­tain­ment: a guilty plea­sure to some, a com­pletely rea­son­able form of sport to many. But the day after, you see glimpses of the cost to those who part the ropes. They risk death and se­ri­ous in­jury – men­tal im­pair- ment in later life. They can be called bums and quit­ters and frauds by pun­ters. And they are at the mercy of judges’ score­cards, es­pe­cially in the op­po­nent’s back­yard, as Fury was on Satur­day.

Wilder, so tru­cu­lent all week and men­ac­ing in his ring-walk get-up, was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent man an hour after the bat­tle. For days he had ex­uded a fu­ri­ous re­sent­ment of all Fury’s provo­ca­tions. After the fight, though, he spoke like a soul singer: soft, mel­low, re­flec­tive. Al­most the first thing he said was: “Get­ting hit in the head ain’t cool.”

Pre-fight hype treads a fine line be­tween turn­ing ca­sual spec­ta­tors off the sport and find­ing the right emo­tional touch­points, which Wilder v Fury did. But even with our adrenalin still flow­ing, we owe it to them to stop and con­sider what they have to go through to pro­vide this spec­ta­cle, the money from which is no guar­an­tee of hap­pi­ness.

Both fighters in Los An­ge­les made a point of ar­tic­u­lat­ing the re­al­ity be­hind the 12-round show, the “night out” that left Wilder for­tu­nate to still be in posses­sion of his belt. No won­der, you might say, he was be­ing philo­soph­i­cal.

“We both go home happy,” said Wilder.

“That’s what it’s all about – two fighters whup each other and hug each other at the end, al­though, in the buildup to the fight, we just wanted to kill each other. That’s the magic part about it; be­ing able to beat each other up, then at the end say, ‘I love you, bro, have a great day, I’ll see you soon’.”


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