The Heavyweight Triangle of Tease
When the news broke earlier that Tyson Fury will take another fight before any rematch with Deontay Wilder, it hardly came as a surprise, we new what was coming. Fury last week announced a deal with ESPN and now they want to put him in an ‘exposure’ fight before the much-anticipated rematch.
Why Fury, one of the most recognisable names in boxing and coming off that incredible fight with Wilder needs more exposure is beyond me, but it shows again the problems in making fights. Fury, Wilder and Anthony Joshua are the big 3 in world heavyweight boxing but recently we have been only teased the fights between them, but they look further away now than ever.
All 3 are on different platforms, and while the people behind them say that shouldn’t stop the fights we want happening, but it sure complicates it, and it was hardly simplistic before. Can a Joshua/Fury really happen, will the obvious broadcast issues really get agreed. BT Sport, Sky Sports, ESPN, and DAZN will all want it on their networks, can anyone seriously think someone will give up their fighter to another network?
The floater in all this is Dillian Whyte, currently on a meet my price world tour, outside of the big 3, he is the most obvious viable contender. But will Whyte be perceived as too dangerous or someone we need for a PPV.
There lies a problem going forward, if they won’t fight each other just who will they fight. There are plenty of other contenders around, but none that will really satisfy the public, just look at the backlash regarding Jarrell Miller. The public will tire of PPV, and will eventually vote with their wallets. You can get away with something for so long, but sooner rather than later the ‘big’ fights need to happen, the public will demand it.
Fury might lay claim to being the lineal champion, and no doubt all his fights will be promoted with that claim somewhere in the story. But the lineal claim is tenuous at best. An Olympic champion who fails to defend his title for whatever reason at the next Olympics can’t come back and say he’s the lineal champion, the sport doesn’t wait, they are an ex-champion plain and simple, and the same applies to Fury.
ESPN/BT Sport can’t rely on Fury being an attraction without putting him in a meaningful fight, at some point this year the Wilder fight needs to happen, the excuses will not continue to wash.
Wilder might get a Whyte or a Dominic Breazeale next, in my view the latter far more likely, but again who after that. Wilder and Fury might be going down totally different roads at the moment but eventually, both will reach a dead-end, at some point they will have to fight each other again.
Despite the last week, nothing really has changed with Joshua, still very much the odd man out. With the Fury fight highly unlikely, he seems to be being completely frozen out by Team Wilder, so in-house opponents might be his immediate future.
If Miller is dispatched as many predict, Oleksandr Usyk will then no doubt get manoeuvred into a mandatory position and will be fast-tracked into a fight with Joshua before the year is out. For Eddie Hearn that should be enough to see out 2019, and Hearn will hope after that the picture becomes a little clearer, but don’t hold your breath for that.
The sad thing is the heavyweight scene is as vibrant and exciting as it has been for many a year. But as ever we seem to be in a cold war, boxing politics robbing us of the fights we want. Sadly, and I hope I am wrong, but I don’t see it changing anytime soon. All 3 are extremely valuable to the people around them, the big fights carry the bigger risk, will they risk their particular cash machine, will they be content picking up less money for less risk, time will tell.
The social media feuds are tiresome, predictable, remember the old days when the respective teams were locked in a room until a deal was reached, put the phones down and talk face to face, old-fashioned I know, but it sort of works.
The money men seem to have the power at the moment, but with great power comes great responsibility, and that responsibility should be for the sport and the fans, we can live in hope.