Some people get annoyed by the process of how big fights are set up. For me, it’s the one time that I love raw, unregulated capitalism. People openly doing whatever it takes to get as much guaranteed money as possible, and as many eyeballs on the screen as possible.
The fight game is dirty, but could it exist any other way? Large adults are allowed to punch each other in the head with 12 oz. gloves for 36 minutes (smaller weight classes use smaller gloves, less accomplished fighters go for less rounds but it’s still sanctioned violence.)
There are two championship mega fights yet to happen that can offer all of the spectacle that results in people gathering in homes and bars across the world. Errol Spence and Terence Crawford are reportedly hammering out the details of a bout for the Undisputed Welterweight Championship. Fight fans have wanted to see this one for a while, and once Crawford left Top Rank promotions, the matchup became a reality.
The Welterweight division has given us many stars over the years. Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, Tommy Hearns and many more. However, nothing gets the hairs on the back of the neck to spring up like when the ring announcer bellows into a microphone “for the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the world.”
Lennox Lewis was the last boxer to get such an intro after he defeated Evander Holyfield in 1999. That fight was five years before Rick Ross released “Port of Miami,” and he now owns the home Holyfield lived in at that time.
Oleksandr Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua for an armload of heavyweight belts on Saturday, but not all of them. Tyson Fury is the WBC Champion and last defended his title with a knockout victory in April against Dillian Whyte. He said at the time that he was retiring, but boxers saying they’re going to retire is like when James Brown would first put his cape on — there’s usually more to come.
Usyk made it clear both in his native language and in English after this second victory against Joshua that he wants Fury, and a shot at the immortality of being Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Fury basically announced his comeback immediately after the fight on social media when he said in a video, “get your fucking checkbook out, because the gypsy king is here to stay forever!”
That video wasn’t enough for the WBC. They need a little bit more from Fury. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told Sky Sports that while he believes that Fury wants to fight again, and he very much wants to see the unification bout, Fury needs to give the WBC written confirmation that he wants to continue as champion by Friday.
While the WBC Champion did announce his retirement, he fought less than six months ago. The rule in the WBC is that champions are only mandated to defend a title once per year, but now the president is giving the champion three days to declare in writing that he wants to fight.
Sulaiman isn’t the only one ratcheting up the boxing hi jinks. This morning Fury took a video while jogging and tagged ESPN, the WBC, English boxing promoter Frank Warren, and Top Rank. He said that they have seven days to make a deal that he sees fit and must be presented in writing to his lawyer with proof of funds. Later, Fury went on Talk Sport and said that to come out of retirement, he wants an obscene amount of money to fight Usyk. “Mayweather got $400 million for Pacquiao, I want $500 million for Usyk.”
These deadlines are hilarious. The belts that Usyk won probably still have some of his sweat on them from the fight, and Fury and Sulaiman are making limited-time offers like McDonalds does with the McRib and Shamrock Shake.
It’s all posturing. Fury probably won’t get $500 million to fight Usyk, but he’s looking at the biggest payday of his career. Also, at 34 years old he can become the first Unanimous Heavyweight Champion since 1999, when he was a preteen. That would put him on a list with Lewis, Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, and Joe Louis. Few would ever make the argument that he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time, but becoming a 6-foot-9 undisputed champ would make it harder to dismiss.
Yet, there’s only a two-to-seven day window in which a fight of this magnitude can be put together, and I’m supposed to believe that because a boxing executive and a fighter said so. Of course it’s ridiculous, but that’s the sport. In the movie Trading Places, Louis Winthorpe, played by Dan Aykroyd, called the trading floor the “last bastion of pure capitalism left on Earth.” He definitely forgot about boxing, because whatever it takes to get you to watch human heads snap backwards from direct impact they will do.