It wasn’t clear whether Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury could deliver a fight Saturday night on par with what they brought to the buildup.
The two unbeaten heavyweights surprised everyone and became the water-cooler topic of Monday and beyond after fighting to a draw.
Max Kellerman has discussed the fight on ESPN’s First Take on back-to-back days. Wilder has appeared on “The Late Late Show” with James Corden and “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd on FS1.
These are the kinds of platforms heavyweight boxing in America hasn’t been featured on since at least Lennox Lewis reigned as champion more than a decade ago.
The thought is it couldn’t have worked out any worse for Anthony Joshua and his team. Prior to Saturday night, Joshua was the clear A-side in a potential showdown with Wilder. He can draw tens of thousands of fans in the UK and has three of the belts. Wilder was seen as an unknown even in his own country, but that looks as though it’s quickly changing.
“Oh, man, they was throwing up,” Wilder said about how he thinks Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn felt watching the fight Saturday. “They didn’t wanna see this fight do well. You know, he was already trying to downplay it. They didn’t wanna see this fight do well at all. They want to be the global face of boxing — period. They don’t want no one else to be equal to them or come past them. They want to be the main source that everyone goes to. Well, if he wants that to be, he has to be the undisputed, undefeated, unified champion. One champion, one face, one name, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. If they wanna be singled out, he gotta obtain all the belts and just, he gotta leave no doubt. He gotta leave no fighters left out.”
If Wilder blew out Fury in a couple rounds, the narrative would have been Fury was a shell of himself and Wilder wouldn’t have received much credit for the win. Fury outboxed Wilder for much of the fight, but was sent crashing to the canvas on two separate occasions. He rose from the ashes like a phoenix in the 12th round to hear the final bell, the knockdown securing Wilder a draw and allowing him to hold onto his WBC belt. Fury remains the lineal champion. Both guys have been elevated because of Saturday’s action.
Now, thoughts of a Joshua fight go on the backburner. There’s so much unfinished business between Wilder and Fury — and the negotiations for the first fight went so smoothly — that it makes for an easy rematch. The Showtime pay-per-view likely outperformed modest expectations and should do a sizable boost on a second fight.
The WBC has already said they would halt the need for a mandatory defense by Wilder in order to allow the rematch to happen.
“Everyone is talking about this fight. It’s only right for us to go back in and do it again,” Wilder said on a Tuesday conference call. “I don’t want any other fights to happen between him and I (meeting again).”
Wilder said he would be ready for a rematch as early as March or April. But Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza indicated May or June would be a better fit in order to allow these two giants to recover from the difficult fight they engaged in.
Having been there ringside Saturday at STAPLES Center, it was some of the best atmosphere I’ve experienced on a fight night. Fury proved that British and Irish fans will follow him wherever he goes. Wilder made believers out of doubters by uncorking what we all thought was a fight-ending left hand in the 12th round.
Anthony Joshua has an April 13 defense lined up against a to-be-determined opponent at Wembley Stadium. It will undoubtedly be in front of tens of thousands of fans, as are all his defenses. But Wilder and Fury have certainly stolen a little bit of Joshua’s shine by taking part in an all-time great heavyweight title fight.
“You know, they’re getting what they deserve,” Wilder said. “They felt like they was the only people in boxing, in the heavyweight division, that people cared about. They felt like they was the only ones that was running this sport. Well, we had to show them that they’re not the only ones. This is a family. This is a group of guys together, making this thing happen, not just one individual person. So me and Fury came together — we had to show the world what it looks like for the best to fight the best, and look at the outcome. No one has talked about Joshua since I don’t know how long. And we’re planning on keeping it that way, to show them.”
Now, more than ever, the pressure is on Joshua and Eddie Hearn to find a way to make a fight with one of those two before the year is up.
Source: Mark Ortega