Boxers pay high price – be fair
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.”
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 impairment in later life. 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. The defending champion’s ring-walk costume was apocalyptic: feathered cape and jewel-encrusted face mask and crown. 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 vs Fury did.
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.
“We both go home happy,” Wilder said. “That’s what it’s all about – two fighters whup each other and hug each other at the end.”
Wilder gave us an insight into the hidden weeks and months of risk and sacrifice that precede the conflict.
“Every day you sacrifice your body. For months you think about one man. That’s all you think about when you wake up. You don’t want to get up.”
The least fighters deserve in the ring is accurate and truthful judging. They are also entitled to more consideration from us, the audience.
“I’ve seen these decisions go the wrong way time and time again,” Fury said.
He acknowledged, too, a better outcome: “Both men got out of the ring healthy, and we both got back to our families.” – The Sunday Telegraph
BRITISH HEAVY: Boxer Tyson Fury