On Saturday 1st December, 2018, a Gypsy was robbed. In fact, it wasn’t just any Gypsy, but the King of the Gypsies himself. Of course, I am referring to the self-titled “Gypsy King” Tyson Fury, who fought Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight title in LA.
I am no boxing expert by any means, but the consensus was that he should have won the fight but didn’t due to biassed judging. This is not the first time something like this has happened and of course it won’t be the last. I remember watching the fight between Lewis and Holyfield in 1999 when Lewis was similarly robbed of an outright win due to utter bias (I was amazed because even I could see how one sided that fight was). Lewis beat Holyfield in a rematch later that same year and I expect Fury will similarly beat Wilder next year in a rematch: Tyson took a couple of amazing punches, especially one in the twelfth round that floored him, only to see him get up completely fine, to the amazement of everyone watching, and carry on.
This is not to take anything away from Wilder. Of course he is a superb athlete and a giant of his craft (in more ways than one, standing six foot seven). I wonder how he feels about it all. Having been in the ring with Fury, I am very sure he would know that he should not have won the fight or even been awarded a draw. I don’t know the man: never met him and not ever likely to either, so I have been thinking about how I would feel in his place.
Relieved that I didn’t leave the ring without the title: that is for sure. A wish to prove that I really could beat Fury and therefore a yearning for a rematch? (Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to get in the ring with either of them, ever, but I don’t think Wilder is scared of anyone). But I think I’d also be feeling a sense of shame. Maybe that isn’t the right word, because Wilder has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. But fans will now be looking at him thinking thoughts along the lines of “that belt should belong to Fury”, and for a warrior like Wilder that has to rankle, though the decision was not his fault and I really do hold him blameless.
The decision is the decision. In sports, bad decisions are sometimes made and the competitors need to live with it, and I am sure they both will (Fury was unusually magnanimous after the result, though came back to form later with his attitude about it all). If I had lost to Fury and not Wilder, I would like to think that I would mention this in an interview. Maybe I would say something like “Actually, I do think he won that fight, but the judges disagree. We’ll fight again and I’ll put him down so hard that he won’t get up.” (I would like to think that is how I would react. Sadly, I suspect the reality is very different). But Wilder won’t say anything like that, because he will be told what to say by his management and any such admission wold be tantamount to a weakness that should never be shown by a fighter. So, there will be another rematch with an even bigger payday (Wilder received $10M for the last fight with Fury getting $7M).
Considering that metric, they have both already won.