Tyson Fury - John McDermott Recap

Furyby John Wight - A classic British heavyweight contest on Saturday night was marred by the kind of decision that brings shame to the sport.

John McDermott won a clear points decision over ten rounds of non-stop, toe-to-toe action against his formidable 6’9” opponent, Manchester’s Tyson Fury.

But though McDermott did more than enough to win the fight, credit must go to Fury for eating right hands all night long while continuing to give his opponent something to think about with some hard punches of his own, specifically a busy jab, which in the past had proved the undoing of every one of the seven previous opponents who’d deigned to climb through the ropes to face him.. Unlike his previous category of opposition, however, it takes more than a long reach to defy the intentions of boxer of the calibre of John McDermott. Every second jab that came hurtling in the Essex-man's direction was answered by a neat slip of the head and a crushing reply in the shape of double jabs and overhand rights.

In particular, Fury proved that he’s more than just another spoon-feed, protected hype-job of the type we’ve seen float through the sport way too many times. He’s got a heart to match his inordinate dimensions, and like a species we’d long believed extinct, he’s that rare example of a heavyweight (superheavyweight, in truth) who can and does throw combinations.

It also doesn’t hurt that with his skills he brings a bank account filled with confidence and the kind of easy-going charm and articulacy which makes him a magnet for TV cameras.

But regardless of how media-friendly or charismatic, the integrity of a sport which has taken something of a battering over recent years (no pun intended), and in the process seen its derriere set alight by its bastard child, MMA, demands an end to the kind of ludicrous outcomes witnessed on Saturday, when at the end of the fight the referee, Terry O’Connor, inexplicably raised Fury’s hand in victory instead of the hand of the man who actually did win the fight, John McDermott.

It really was a disgraceful decision, which if allowed to stand will only leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those who’d forked out good money to attend the fight on Saturday, not to mention the tens of thousands who watched it live on television. Inevitably, suspicions will linger as to the provenance of such a decision, making it difficult to imagine how either Fury or his promoter, Mick Hennessy, will be able to look one another in the eye in the days and weeks to come without laughing. Interestingly, though, judging by Fury’s post-fight interview, a rematch looks likely to be on the cards sooner rather than later.

Could the question as to the provenance of Saturday’s decision have just been answered, I wonder?

All well and good, but for the good of the sport any rematch surely must be preceded by the overturning of a decision that left McDermott’s promoter, the inimitable Frank Maloney, understandably spitting venom.

John McDermott is a fantastic British heavyweight, bringing to the table handspeed, good footwork, head movement, enough power to keep an 18 stone giant like Tyson Fury on the back foot, along with guts to match his prodigious girth. In the ring, he looks like a man who sleeps in the kitchen of his local McDonald’s fast food restaurant, but this incongruous appearance merely serves to remind us that despite today’s obsession with low-carb diets, plyometrics training, and ripped physiques, heavyweight boxing is no bodybuilding contest. Instead, it remains a brutal contest of skill, courage, and determination. McDermott exemplified all three in abundance against Fury over the distance, in so doing taking us back to an age when fighters were tougher than gnarled steel.

Let’s hope a rematch does take place. Let’s also hope that John McDermott is finally treated with the respect and justice he deserves by a game which, thus far, has regarded him with neither.

Tyson Fury may well be the bright future which British heavyweight boxing has lacked for many a year. Be that as it may, the John McDermott’s of this world will forever remain its soul.

Article posted on 12.09.2009

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