Box­ers pay high price – be fair

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Sport / Classifieds - By Paul Hay­ward

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

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