THERE were two trilogy fights that took place over the weekend, both of which were broadcast on major platforms. One was on PPV at primetime in the UK while the other was on a streaming service in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The PPV show, the one that drew a reported crowd of 60,000 to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, was headlined by a trilogy bout nobody asked for. Tyson Fury pummelled Derek Chisora into a swollen mess. The result was never in doubt but somehow the fight was even more depressing than most thought it would be.
Despite the mismatch, the broadcast had to dress this up like a big fight. By putting this on PPV, BT Sport had no choice but to truss it up like a Christmas turkey and try to sell it as something not only palatable, but delicious. The fight itself was far from that, but the event as a whole was decent.
That Fury, even in such a lacklustre matchup, could get 60,000-odd fans to sit in a stadium on a cold December evening is testament to his pulling power. When looking at the production of the show it’s also hard to fault BT Sport. We even got a standoff between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, who had been flown in to watch from ringside. His deadpan stare at Tyson as the Brit goaded him on the microphone was the highlight of the whole show.
All that being said, this wasn’t entertaining. Ultimately that is the goal of boxing – to entertain those watching – and this was mainly just painful. Chisora’s punishment dragged on for far too long and we can only hope there are no lasting effects on his health.
Which takes us to the other trilogy fight of the weekend between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada on DAZN. Their first two fights were incredible and this third meeting cemented their three-fight rivalry as one of the best the sport has seen.
DAZN has come under a fair amount of stick in recent months – ironically most recently from Chisora last week who said the platform now only shows “YouTuber fights” – but shows like Gonzalez-Estrada III are the perfect rebuttal to such criticism.
This was the fight that deserved the attention Fury-Chisora received instead. But that’s not how the business of boxing works. Still, it was a pleasure to watch two modern greats battle it out once more to settle the score between them. Even after 36 rounds we’re still not sure who the better fighter is – afterward there was talk of a fourth meeting somewhere in the future.
In the days leading up to his fight with Chisora, Fury took part in countless interviews and there was one topic that kept cropping up – retirement. It wasn’t Tyson saying his departure from the sport is imminent, in fact it seemed to be the opposite. The 34-year-old spoke of his fear of retirement and how he is “addicted” to boxing.
He detailed how he used to think he just needed the training side of the sport, but has now realised he needs all of it; the crowds, the fighting in earnest, the risks.
This isn’t anything new. You could fill a book with the names of fighters who held onto their professional careers for too long because they didn’t know how to say goodbye. Still, after all these years, there is no clear exit strategy out of boxing.
Fury, of course, has had lengthy spells away from competition and by his own admission they have been incredibly dark periods of his life. Hearing him discuss the inevitability of his permanent retirement is, honestly, quite sad. His mental health issues are well-documented at this point and one would hope that, by the time he hangs his gloves up, Fury has found something just as fulfilling to focus his mind and emotions.
Someone Fury’s had dealings with in the past, WWE co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, made a surprising admission last week while speaking at the 6th annual Wells Fargo TMT Summit. She revealed that she and the WWE are considering a move into boxing, specifically highlighting how the sport has become difficult to follow with the proliferation of ‘world’ titles. Her remarks were first reported by Business Insider.
This is similar to remarks made by UFC President Dana White, whose planned entry into boxing ultimately never happened, but it’s still worth keeping tabs on how this develops.
Whatever you think of professional wrestling, the WWE is a staggeringly successful company that churns out crossover stars. If it was serious about a move into boxing, it has the resources to make a huge impact.
If you needed an example of how desperately boxing needs some global overarching governance, then Jaime Munguia provided you one this past week. After being ordered to fight WBO ‘world’ champion Janibek Alimkhanuly, Munguia informed the sanctioning body that he will not be taking that fight, despite being mandatory challenger for the bauble.
Yes, it’s confusing. And no, we don’t know what either fighter’s plans are from here. Credit should go to BoxingScene for reporting the news as it highlights yet more shortcomings in how boxing works.
The rankings of the various sanctioning bodies are virtually pointless. Rarely do we see the actual number one challenger of a division become a mandatory defence and even when that does happen they can just turn around and say “nah, you’re alright.”
It’s particularly alarming that Munguia has once again walked away from a challenging fight. He’s spoken of fighting Jermall Charlo or Gennadiy Golovkin but neither of those fights seem likely to happen next.
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