Listen, we all know that modern boxing negotiations can go deep. Deep into a labyrinth of minutiae covering everything from fonts on promotional posters to the tread of the canvas, before we even get into the bloody meat of purse splits, rematch clauses and global broadcasting rights.
Don King perhaps summed it up best in a rare moment of lucidity amongst the pidgin Shakespearian quotes and ‘only in America’ rah-rahing, when he said; “You sign an agreement; you make a contract, you live up to it. You never get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate. You got a right to say yay or nay.”
Who knows if Tyson Fury was to blame or not for the collapse of a possible 3rd December (2022) fight with long-time British rival Anthony Joshua and now a shelved undisputed clash with Oleksander Usyk, targeted for April 29th of this year.
What we do know, is that a Fury victory in both of those encounters, would have solidified his position as most commentators pick, for the best heavyweight of his era. Without those fights let alone the victories, there’s a real meh about who he fights next and what that would add to his legacy.
His reputation is rightly built on his 2015 victory over a then still live, long unbeaten and defending IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO champion in Wladimir Klitschko, this very much on the Ukrainian’s terms and bang in the heart of Dusseldorf’s ESPRIT Arena.
It wasn’t the prettiest fight but boxing isn’t the prettiest of sports, and Fury’s victory was a stunning, well deserved one against a genuine super champion on his home turf, far removed from the familiarities of the Copperbox or the Kings Hall.
Having achieved what he set out to do, Fury found himself at the top of a mountain where he expected a view of ice white peaks and indigo skies, what he found was an arctic fog and valley troughs.
The next three years are well documented, and that Fury returned from them healthy, is amongst his most impressive victories, let alone what happened next…
Following a couple of comeback workout victories over appropriate opponents in Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta, the public appetite for Tyson, fueled by the well-worn British love of a public resurrection, was clear to see – this was Tyson Fury 2.0, but could he still fight when the opposition fought back?
That he next homed in on facing the then, and still, chilling prospect of defending WBC champion Deontay Wilder was incredible, almost laughable but most of all worrying.
Wilder, a man Tyson later captured perfectly when describing him; “He’s as dangerous as a toddler in a room with a machine gun.” alluding to his crude, wild but effective style, aligned with power that is God-given.
At 40-0 with 39 knockouts, only the then tough and capable Bermane Stiverne had seen the final bell against the Bronze Bomber, who was a bomber deluxe indeed with a highlight reel that could literally include every one of his victories.
Fury’s performance, fitness, durability and warrior spirit in that first of what would become a trilogy of fights with Wilder was truly incredible. Punctuated as it was by the viral image of his rising from a knockout blow in the final minutes of the final round to rally and take the fight right up into Wilder’s grill.
That first fight ended in a draw, which before the opening bell would have been seen a s a triumph for the British fighter, but actually felt like a robbery. Fury humbled and stopped Wilder on his feet in their second fight, whilst the third was more of a back and forth before Fury turned the screw in the championship rounds and gave the knockout king a taste of how it feels to be knocked out.
If Tyson Fury retired now, he would be remembered as the man who dethroned Klitschko in Germany, humbled Wilder in America and would probably have beaten Anthony Joshua, Oleksander Usyk, Joe Joyce and the rest. But is ‘probably’ enough?
This is a good heavyweight era, not a great one, good because there are a clutch of quality fighters, who if they fought each other, probably could elevate this to a great era of the big men.
But in the land of negotiations, global image rights, site fees, glove selection, Far Eastern money, weigh in hierarchy, ring walk order, purse splits, social media ranting and blah blah blah… that probably won’t happen.