26 DEC 18 | THOUGHTS, TRUTH ON HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING
By Kenneth Lundgren
Professional heavyweight boxing is not the same buzz of the 1980s and 1990s, but the division is also not dead like many believe. The field is deep with exciting and diverse fighters from across the globe. Who is the top current heavyweight? Britain’s Anthony Joshua? Britain’s Tyson Fury? Some of the press and boxing promotion are trying to sell boxing fans on the idea of American Deontay Wilder, a good fighter but nowhere in the league or class of a Joshua, Fury, or Wladimir Klitschko.
If you go into any credible boxing gym in the country, majority of trainers, boxers, and insiders agree that Anthony Joshua is the top heavyweight on the planet right now. Undeniable truth: Joshua has the amateur pedigree, the ability to purely box in any bout, his footwork overall is as good if not better than Tyson Fury. Respectfully, Anthony Joshua has had the cleanest career and is the peaking world champion.
My favorite heavyweight boxer has long been Tyson Fury. He absolutely dominated a prime Derek Chisora in 2011 and in 2012 the late great Emanuel Steward told Wladimir Klitschko that Tyson Fury would be the man to take him down. I agreed with Steward’s assessment: Fury seemed to have greater understanding of sweet science than his rivals – he had that in/out, side-to-side movement that reminded me of Muhammad Ali, very underestimated speed and timing from such a big frame. When Tyson Fury begins to rattle combos off on opponents, they began to feel like they were being assaulted by two men. Make no mistake, Tyson Fury is master scientist and craftsman inside that ring.
Betting ample amounts of money on Fury over Klitschko was free money, better than the stock market, better than gold – the best investment on earth. Klitschko-Fury would go the same way if they squared off 10 times consecutive, an awful matchup for Wladimir. This is boxing, not fighting. When you have a talented boxer against a good fighter, a fighter with limited weapons and patterns, I take the former every time. Granted, in professional boxing, especially in the kingdom of these heavyweight gorillas, one punch can end or change a fight, but Wladimir was nowhere near landing any of those clean blows against Fury.
I admire Deontay Wilder. I know his athletic background and understand him for what he is: a hardworking and talented athlete who is trying to box at the highest world level. He has superb reflexes, height, reach, speed and power – usually these attributes are in his favor. What he does not have is the background, experience, acumen, or boxing IQ to stay in pocket with top fighters and trade. Against Fury, as predicted, he lost nearly all of these exchanges. That fight was very, very one-sided, looked like professional boxer against amateur boxer spectacle.
Wilder does not understand the true commandments that make up the sweet science. He cannot dance on outside and box from outside. He does not understand how to control distance. He is not a skilled inside fighter. He is not great at jabbing and building combos, he is not a skilled counterpuncher. He seems to just go in there and wing it, keep hunting and looking for opportunities. Wilder always seeks to set up heavy blows with his 2 (he is rightie, this is his right cross) or 3 (left hook). His footwork and attacks are very basic.
What Wilder lacks in true boxing talent he makes up with conditioning and heart. He is tough cookie with whom to deal, he comes to fight and you will have to beat him, he is never going to beat himself. Against Luis Ortiz, he lost every minute of every round. Ortiz is southpaw and Wilder did not understand basic principle of jabbing less and throwing short right hands more. Wider tried to jab but would get countered badly by Ortiz left hand, then Ortiz would catch him on reset and batter him with combo, then spin off.
In truth, Ortiz was exposing Wilder, Ortiz is grizzled vet, from Cuba and that beautiful school of Cuban boxing. But, he – I believe the fight was under USADA drug testing – faded badly, also has heart condition, and Wilder was able to capitalize. Wilder turned tide of fight with first knockdown, the man showed heart. Much respect. However, if Ortiz does not gas, he takes 12-0 clinical victory home with him that night, as well as Wilder’s belts.
Al Haymon, Showtime, Wilder – they all know what time it is. Boxing is a business and they are trying to build cash cow. They know Wilder would not fare well against Fury or Joshua, Wilder needs more time to keep developing and improving. The Fury-Wilder fight went exactly as I had thought. Wilder is in his prime and confident, will be ready to go. Fury is still coming back, experience is experience, he hadn’t truly been under big lights for performance since May 2015. And when these two giants squared off December 2018 in Los Angeles CA, Fury was still the better man inside that ring, he was the first to punch, the last to punch. He was timing and countering Wilder with such clean beauty.
The knockdowns of that fight looked bizarre. Fury was winning every exchange of round 3, then he was knocked down, then continued to dominate remainder of round after getting up. Then the final-round knockdown: the punch that Wilder threw – a left hook, Tyson Fury had been blocking that punch all night long. The punch looked either fixed or Tyson was fucking off, either way the rudimentary left hook landed clean and Fury was down flat. He was motionless on ground aside from heaving chest. Great spectacle and theatre, the gypsy rose to his feet just before count of 10, eyes clear.
If you want to see the character of a man, look at him when he’s down, not up. Tyson Fury went on to dominate and slap, move Wilder around ring for remainder of round. Superb boxing class put on by Fury all night.
Joshua-Fury is The Fight. Media and promoters are saying Joshua is avoiding Wilder – that is the furthest from the truth. All Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn and Joshua fear is Wilder losing or getting hurt, Joshua-Wilder is very bad matchup for Wilder. Joshua and Hearn just see $$$$ when they see Wilder, Haymon knows this and is not willing nor ready to sacrifice his lamb. Wilder, not a master tactician in ring, can jab better with a rightie, like fencing, but his footwork is not on Joshua’s level and Joshua will continue to counter and hit Wilder with shots he does not see or expect. The night will go badly for Wilder.
Fury, on the other hand, is a real test for Joshua. Fury understands inches, pulling and slipping in and out of range, not getting hit and then hitting. Both boxers are very skilled in this science, Joshua-Fury is the true mega-fight that awaits. I had predicted a rusty Fury would easily dominate Wilder in a wide UD, which is what happened – professional judging is just way corrupt, no other way to write it.
Wilder is just a name to attract money and interest in the sport. Wilder will battle Fury again and hopefully Fury will step up the pace, aim for KO or really make the result even more clear. Fury will be faster and sharper and better conditioned for rematch.
When Joshua and Fury fight in second-half 2019, I take a peaking Tyson Fury to step up and take down the king and accept full reign over the heavyweight boxing kingdom.
What are your thoughts? Please hit me up at Ken@TheRingObserver with your opinions and I will make sure to cover them in this week’s podcast and report.
#KingFury #ComingTwentyNineteen #TheRingObserver
THE BOXING OBSERVER JANUARY 2019 HEAVYWEIGHT STANDINGS
1 JOSHUA, ANTHONY
2 FURY, TYSON
3 WILDER, DEONTAY
4 WHYTE, DILLON
5 POVETKIN, ALEXANDER
6 MILLER, JARRELL
7 PULEV, KUBRAT
8 ORTIZ, LUIS
December 26th, 2018