The Weekend That Was
It’s been a few years since a Tyson overtook Las Vegas; in fact, it’s been nearly twenty. But long after “Iron Mike” was banned from boxing’s most lucrative venue, another Tyson made his Sin City debut, bringing thousands of avid fans to the MGM Grand to watch him annihilate someone named Tom Schwarz inside of two rounds.
In this, Tyson Fury’s first fight since signing with Top Rank in February, “The Gypsy King” was looking to make a statement in just his third ever appearance on American soil. While Deontay Wilder’s handlers and Bob Arum have already claimed to have a Fury vs Wilder rematch on tap for early next year, Fury was also hoping to not fall victim to the kind of surprise upset that fellow British countryman Anthony Joshua suffered earlier this month against Andy Ruiz. However, while Schwarz brought a 26-0 record and legit heavyweight proportions into the ring, the German had no answers for the befuddling fluidity showcased by the man many call the “lineal” heavyweight champion of the world.
Fury fought the first round out of the orthodox stance, moving, jabbing, and looking for openings. But after listening to the advice of his trainer Ben Davison between rounds, Fury turned southpaw for the start of the second and within the first minute landed a hard left uppercut that stunned Schwarz. The German continued to plod forward, but Fury picked him off with counter lefts thrown through and around the guard. Late in the round, Fury scored the first knockdown of the fight with a hard straight right. Schwarz got to his feet, but was quickly blasted out, Fury’s attack forcing referee Kenny Bayless to step in at 2:56 of round two.
To add to his charismatic showing in the ring, Fury once again chose to serenade his wife, Paris, with a solo rendition of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” in the post-fight interview, as he did following his 2015 upset of Wladimir Klitschko. In the post-fight press conference, Fury’s new promoter Bob Arum brazenly claimed that, “I really believe, and I’m not blowing smoke, I can’t see why that fight [Fury-Wilder 2] won’t equal or surpass numbers done on the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Two little guys, great fighters, that were built up for many years, but still, they’re not heavyweights of this caliber or notoriety.”
It’s understandable that Arum is easily excitable about the prospect of a Fury vs Wilder rematch, especially given the fact that Fury is his first lineal heavyweight champion since George Foreman held the distinction twenty years ago. But bigger than the single biggest financial bonanza in all of boxing history? That’s difficult to envision. Anyway, if Fury and Wilder get through their next opponents later this year (Wilder vs Ortiz 2, Fury vs TBA), the plan is for the return to take place in the first quarter of 2020.
In the co-feature at the MGM Grand, Jesse Hart made his light heavyweight debut with a decisive but somewhat sluggish victory over former 175 pound title challenger Sullivan Barrera. In what was shaping up into a tumultuous war, Barrera and Hart were each hurt early, with Barrera wobbled by an overhand right in round two before coming back to have Hart ready to go in the last minute of round three. Amazingly, both were ready to go in a breathtaking round four, but it appears Barrera exhausted himself as from that round on he faded. Hart scored a knockdown with a left hook in round eight, but wasn’t able to finish the 37-year-old Cuban, who bravely battled to the finish line. The unanimous decision went to Jesse Hart who now positions himself as a serious title threat at 175.
Meanwhile, in Riga, Latvia, we had some thrilling and controversial action as the latest edition of the WBSS cruiserweight tournament approached its conclusion. In the semi-final round, former champions Mairis Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki engaged in one of the wildest fights of recent memory.
The madness begun in the latter portion of round two as Briedis responded to a rabbit punch with an intentional elbow to Glowacki’s jaw that sent the Pole to the canvas. Referee Robert Byrd correctly docked a point from Briedis for the foul, but later in the round, Briedis sent Glowacki to the deck a second time with a huge right uppercut that had the Pole in serious trouble. Glowacki beat the count and it appeared he would be saved by the bell but, for reasons unknown, Robert Byrd chose not to hear the bell! Briedis kept throwing shots for a good ten seconds or more after the official end of the round and drove a hurt Glowacki to the canvas with a right hand just as Byrd finally decided to separate the fighters.
Byrd later claimed he couldn’t hear the bell, but everyone else in the arena did, including Briedis, who was standing right next to the veteran referee. The fight carried on into the third, but Glowacki could not regain his bearings and another knockdown prompted Byrd to finally halt the match. With the win Briedis annexed the WBO cruiserweight title and put himself in position to face Cuban Yuniel Dorticos in the WBSS cruiserweight final. Dorticos, in the co-feature, scored a beauty of a one-punch knockout over Andrew Tabiti with a picture-perfect straight right in round ten.
Meanwhile, in the featherweight division, we saw IBF champion Josh Warrington successfully defend his title in front of his hometown of Leeds against Sheffield rival Kid Galahad. After a build-up that brewed animosity between the two British warriors, Warrington came out fast, but was continually tied up by the elusive challenger and forced to fight at a slower pace than he set against Carl Frampton and Lee Selby last year.
Southpaw Galahad enjoyed success with his lead left hands and effective counter-punching and appeared to be the ring general for much of the fight, but nonetheless did not do enough to convincingly lift the title from Warrington in “The Leeds Warrior’s” hometown. But while Warrington came on late to try and retain his title, he was unable to sustain a comfortable advantage over the slippery challenger, who appeared to be the technically superior boxer. The judges were split in their verdict, with one scoring it for Galahad while the other two saw it for Warrington by three.
While fans of Warrington may be comforted by the old adage “win today, look spectacular tomorrow,” significant technical shortcomings that Selby and Frampton could not exploit are part of the story of this fight. “The Leeds Warrior” is at his best when he’s able to set a frantic pace, controlling opposition with his guerilla warfare style of fighting. But against a slippery switch-hitter like Galahad, Warrington lacked the adaptability to change-up his approach and it remains to be seen how Warrington will fare going forward in a talent-rich featherweight division.
And finally, it was quite the stacked card in Shawinigan, Quebec, with the main event yet another all-action brawl in an all-Canuck heavyweight clash that saw Simon Kean get his revenge on former Canadian champ Dillon Carman. Nine supporting bouts were on the undercard and our own Zachary Alapi has your full and detailed report right here. That’s a wrap! — Alden Chodash