The Monday LunchBox

New Champ Tyson Fury

When all came to pass it wasn’t even close. Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury simply destroyed Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday. It was left to Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel and referee Kenny Bayless to rescue the former WBC champion at 1:39 of the seventh round. Over the course of nearly twenty completed minutes the Alabaman had been dropped twice, staggered around the ring like a drunken cowboy leaving a saloon and had his ear pummelled to a bleeding mess.

The British contender had taken the centre of the ring from the opening bell and systematically picked Wilder apart behind a ramrod jab and follow up sledgehammer counters. All from a man that Wilder referred to as having “pillows for fists”. The only successes the American had were a few solid counters and the deduction of a point from Fury in round five for clinching. Dubious to say the least.

So where does this take us ? Fury 30-0-1 (21 KO’s) now holds the WBC world heavyweight title, is still the ‘lineal’ champion (being the man, who beat the man…by virtue of his 2015 victory over Wladimir Klitschko) and is recognised by The Ring magazine as the Heavyweight Champion of the World. The latter possibly the highest honour in boxing.

The ‘Morecambe monolith’ quite frankly delivered arguably (Lennox Lewis aside) the greatest performance from a British fighter, certainly as a heavyweight, but possibly across all divisions, on the other side of ‘the pond’. The American ex-champ entered the ring with a near perfect 42-0-1 (41 KO) record, having been champion for five years and in his eleventh title defence. His 95% knockout rate and punching prowess was being compared to some of the greatest in heavyweight history. All leading pundits and ex-champions could only see two possible outcomes – a Wilder win by KO or Fury on points. Your website The Undisputed questioned whether Tyson could back it up, and in finally picking a Fury win was circumspect on how early. We suggested Fury had the power to finish the fight early, and that this power was underestimated. Close the show he undoubtedly did.

The rematch clause in the Saturday’s pre-fight contracts has been regularly quoted in the last thirty six hours. That the defeated Wilder has reputedly thirty days to invoke the losers clause for a third fight between them. But, who really wants to see this ? The log should read 2-0 to Fury, and the rematch was so emphatic that it’s going to be a hard sell. In addition, and on the other side is Anthony Joshua the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion – so to the unfamiliar we have TWO heavyweight champions of the world. An uncomfortable and inconvenient truth that needs resolution as soon as possible.

A fight between the two Britons is the defining fight out there, in many ways the only fight. It’s the only one that will deliver what the public crave for – a unified/undisputed champion – the first since Lennox Lewis in 1999. It will take a gargantuan effort contractually and logistically to deliver, but this Messrs Arum, Warren and Hearn will do. The only questions that will remain for sometime are when, where and for how much ? And, maybe one other key question – who will win ?

Bring it on !

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

Return of the King

Tyson Fury wallows in the glory

Las Vegas, Nevada – 05:45 GMT

“The King has returned to the top of the throne”. The post-fight words of Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury who won every minute of every round in stopping Deontay Wilder on a technical knockout at 1:39 of the 7th round to gain the WBC world heavyweight title tonight.

Taking control from ring centre at the opening bell the Brit bludgeoned the American champion from pillar to post scoring knockdowns in rounds 3 and 5 before referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to stop the fight as Wilder was penned in a corner. This was as emphatic a heavyweight victory as witnessed without the humiliation of a knockout. Fury, dominating with powerful jabs and following up with concussive blows, quite simply took the undefeated ex-champ apart.

Post-fight Fury praised his saviour and then gave credit to the heart of the American who showed immense courage to remain in the fight. This was followed up by a rendition of American Pie joined by promoter Bob Arum and the thousands in attendance.

Fury 30-0-1 (21 KO’s) moves onto immortality in the heavyweight division and the ultimate showdown with fellow Brit Anthony Joshua. Wilder drops to 42-1-1 (41 KO’s).

Let's fight !

Tyson Fury (right) lets champ Deontay Wilder know what’s in store.

As ex-referee and district attorney Mills Lane used to say “Let’s get it on !”.

The training is done, the hype is almost history and the weights are in. At the MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas last night the ‘lineal’ heavyweight champion of the world Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury weighed in at a massive 273lbs (19st 7lbs). This being over one stone heavier than the previous encounter with WBC champ Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder in December 2018. The American champ on the other hand tipped the scales at 231lbs (16st 7lbs), a career high and again over a stone up on the previous encounter.

But what does all this mean ? In the heavyweight division generally very little. They don’t have to make weight and usually weigh ins are a last opportunity to sell the fight and get a psychological edge on the opponent. Not this one. The scale tipping showed us the training camp both protaganists have had, one of sacrifice, diligence and hardship. Both, although significantly over recent fighting weights looked physically imposing (despite Fury keeping on his sweatshirt) and both continuing an aura of supreme self-confidence.

Fury’s legs and biceps looked impressive and an indication of the training camp that he’d endured. Wilder meanwhile looked his excellent toned and cut ‘Adonis-like’ self. You would expect the excess poundage has been focussed on his pencil thin legs to offer greater root and purchase on his power shots. The 6 foot 9 Brit meanwhile will maximise his extra body mass in the clinches, but the test will be on his usual excellent mobility. The Gypsy King relies on speed and his ‘Nureyev-like’ fleet of foot to evade and slip power punches. How will this extra poundage affect that ?

These are all unknowns until that opening bell, and specifically, should the fight go deep into the ‘championship rounds’ (10 through 12). The additional poundage on Fury indicates he will attempt to bully the American from the onset, a proclamation he’s been promoting now for a good month. Wilder although has the lower poundage will not change type and become fleet of foot. He invests in power and will be ready to cash in from the opening bell.

The whole scenario bodes well for an excellent contest with both fighters meeting each other ring centre in the early rounds. Boy we need a fight of this magnitude and excitement to re-ignite the sport after a very quiet start to the year. If the fight we all hope for happens then history beckons for the victor; Anthony Joshua lays in wait and world domination is finally within reach.

If both boxers can back up their pre-fight boasts we’re in for a humdinger of a contest. Don’t blink and book your ringside seat. Fireworks await !

The fight will be televised live Sunday morning on BT Box Office and ring walks are expected from 5am GMT. The fight is also available live and exclusive on talkSPORT.

Can the Gypsy King back it up ?

Well, two days to go and the most anticipated heavyweight fight in many a year is almost upon us. The predictions and pre-fight shenanigans are racking up as we approach the Wilder-Fury date with destiny. The ‘Gypsy King’ Tyson Fury has certainly been raising the bar with the pre-fight predictions and his supreme confidence he’s going to ‘do a job’ come Saturday night. But, is this pre-fight bravado, insecurity or, a supreme confidence borne of his superior (minus two knockdowns) in the first fight ? We will only know come fight time and that in essence is the beauty of this matchup.

Can WBC champ Wilder extend his KO resume by rendering Fury comatose ? The power is certainly there, which Dominic Brezeale and Luis Ortiz will testify, but, the boxing ability and ring smarts are significantly inferior to the Brit. What most pundits believe is if Wilder lands cleanly, and possibly early, Fury will go. The first fight doesn’t back this up. Fury rising from the canvas twice, en route to a split decision draw. Fury in reality, despite his knockout boasts will try to box his way to victory. He knows he’s the superior ring technician and will intend to maximise this advantage. However, IF the knockout opportunity comes, likely late in the fight, Fury will take it.

The Undisputed sees this as the most likely outcome. Fury’s power, though not on the scale of Wilder is underestimated. We see most of his power in this fight coming from his boxing IQ and ability to get in position to land the defining punch. Wilder will be dangerous early, but if the Gypsy King can navigate his way through the first six rounds look for him to take control down the stretch.

Fury, despite his proclamations that it will be a Hagler-Hearns esq fight, and inviting Wilder to meet mid-ring from the opening bell, will not go anyway near this scenario. For the first four rounds he will exercise caution and then attempt to pick the American apart through the mid rounds to stop a fatigued champion late in the fight. He’s set himself up to eat his words over fight week, but look for the Brit to back it up on the night and remain the ‘Lineal’ and new WBC heavyweight champ. We can’t wait.

The Monday LunchBox

Promo courtesy of Top Rank inc.

Welcome to fight week ! The long awaited rematch is only five days away between WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder and Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury, in Las Vegas. Both undefeated, both with a claim to the heavyweight championship, the latter being the ‘Lineal’ champion (i.e. the Man who beat the Man who beat the Man) dating back over 100 years to John L Sullivan.

It’s a fight that BT Box Office and others are claiming is the biggest heavyweight fight in twenty years. This takes us back to Lennox Lewis second fight against Evander Holyfield in November 1999 when the heavyweight championship was finally unified and we could call one man the champion. Saturday’s fight will not achieve that, with Brit Anthony Joshua holding three of the straps, but it certainly will move the division onto hopefully a climax and division settling fight. Should we have an outright victor, which we failed to get in December 2018, then they’ll be a public clamour for an immediate Joshua fight.

But what can we expect on Saturday ? The smart money is on two possible outcomes; a Wilder victory by KO or a Fury points win. The American champ Wilder, continues to talk up his devastating power (41 KO’s) and that Fury won’t escape this time (Fury surviving two knockdowns in the first fight, including ‘the resurrection’ early in the 12th round). Wilder’s KO record and recent destruction of Cuban Luis Ortiz certainly points towards that.

The Brit Fury meanwhile has regularly stated his dominance and clear victory in the first fight, but on account of not getting a decision in Las Vegas, knows he has to KO the American this time round. His switch to the world famous Kronk Gym in Detroit has backed up his claim for a more aggressive approach.

It’s going to be a fascinating week and look for the hype to continue and build to a crescendo with the final press conferences and weigh in at the back end of the week. Also, see if The Undisputed can be swayed from it’s current prediction of a Fury late stoppage victory over the next five days.

Enjoy the week and watch this space.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Monday LunchBox

Kell Brook loads up on Mark DeLuca
Photo by Matchroom Boxing

Brook back in business

Britain’s former IBF world welterweight champion Kell ‘Special’ Brook showed how special he can still be with an emphatic knockout of tough ex-American marine Mark DeLuca in Sheffield on Saturday.

The fight was at the higher 11 stone (154lb) super-welterweight poundage and the Sheffield southpaw showed he still has the pop to compete in the bigger division. In a fight that Brook (39-2, 27 KO’s) was dominating from the onset the stoppage eventually came at 1:15 mins of the seventh round with a powerful screwed left jab.

DeLuca was dropped earlier in the third and was thoroughly beaten. His record falls to 24-2, 13 KO’s.

During the post fight interview the former champ enthused about a domestic dust up with Liverpudlian and ex-WBO world champion Liam Smith, in attendance at ringside. Showing full respect for Smith’s accomplishments and world pedigree Brook said he would willingly take the fight. Smith had earlier showed equal desire for the fight to happen which bodes well for a British audience and possible quality world title eliminator.

Big domestic heavyweight dust up is on !

In a heated press conference last week Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions confirmed the eagerly anticipated rookie/crossroads fight between undefeated Londoners Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois and Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce. The fight will take place at the O2 Arena on Sat 11th April.

Both fighters have been professionals for less than three years but compiled records of 14-0, 13 KO’s (Dubois) and 10-0, 9 KO’s (Joyce) respectively. In what is viewed by many as a ‘pick ems’ fight with the younger Dubois the slight favourite look for the hype to build over the coming weeks. Fireworks are expected on the night in a bout to be broadcast on BT Sport Box Office.

Lerena defends IBO cruiserweight crown

South African Kevin Lerena (25-1, 12 KO’s) defeated former WBA champion Firat Arslan in Germany on Saturday to retain his IBO cruiserweight (200lb)title. The sixth round technical KO win over the veteran Arslan (47-9-3, 32 KO’s) has set Lerena up for a shot at the WBA title in Belgium in the spring. The 27 year old South African is ranked #5 cruiserweight by The Ring magazine.

In other news Cuba’s double Olympic gold medallist Guillermo ‘The Jackal’ Rigondeaux (20-1-0, 13 KO’s) won his second professional world title with a split decision victory against Venezuelan Liborio Solis in an early ‘fight of the year’. The 39 year old Cuban is now WBA world bantamweight champion (118lbs) to add to his title at the higher super-bantamweight. A difference of 4 pounds.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

Kell Brook (left) and Mark DeLuca
Photo by Mark Robinson

Can Kell be special again ?

Throughout boxing history the welterweight (10st 7lb) division has been a ‘special’ division. None more so than today with a top ten stacked with champions, future hall of famers and elite ex-champions. Think Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Add to that mix our own Amir Khan. Heavyweights aside, this is the deepest division in boxing right now, arguably by a significant margin.

Former IBF world champion Kell ‘Special’ Brook (38-2, 26 KO’s) from Sheffield, England is an elite fighter, and although now aged 33 and considered approaching the twilight of his career, is still a name to reckoned with. The southpaw has fought the best; Porter (defeating him in the US in 2014 to become world champion), Spence (in losing his title) and also ventured up to middleweight (losing to Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin). When the Brit loses it’s to the very best.

This weekend however, in his home city of Sheffield, he returns to the ring at super-welterweight (the slightly higher 11 stone division) against 31 year old American southpaw Mark DeLuca. An opponent outside of the elite level but with a good 24-1 winning record. This offers Brook an opportunity to get momentum back into his career to secure future paydays and title shots.

For 13 months Brook has been inactive and marked time trying to goad Amir Khan into a big domestic showdown, to no avail. Kell is on record as being sick of talking about it, then seriously considered retirement (always dangerous for a returning fighter) but, now pursues another direction.

Can Brook be special again ? either at welter (unlikely) or super-welter ? History would show the odds are stacked against it, once welterweights start moving through the divisions, especially after a lay-off, they generally fizzle out. Think De La Hoya and Trinidad in recent years.

However, for over a decade Brook has been mixing with the best and exhibited the skills and power to match. Can he re-light the fire in the heat of battle ? In the Matchroom Boxing promotion this Saturday 8th (live on UK Sky Sports and DAZN streaming platforms) we will find out.

If Brook wins and looks good in doing so, expect to see him challenge the top ten again for one ‘last hurrah’. Crawford, and Spence (in a rematch) are probably out of reach, both skillset and size-wise, as Brook outgrows the 147 pounders, but Thurman or Pacquiao similarly outgrowing the division, would be excellent matches at super-welter which could secure Brook’s legacy as one of Britain’s best ever fighters. There are also Khan-less domestic options available, with former 11 stone champ Liam Smith being mooted as a possible match.

However until then, look for Brook to seal a late victory tomorrow night most likely on points in an entertaining bout.

The Monday LunchBox

The eyes of ‘Baby Jake’

The South African Sporting Hall of Fame

The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is a very proud sporting nation. Across a population in excess of 58 million with 11 official languages its people have excelled in a number of worldwide sports; this, despite over two decades of sporting isolation in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, due to a world response and condemnation of its former apartheid regime.

Now democratic across all of its inhabitants it continues to punch above its weight in the national obsession of rugby union, cricket, golf, tennis, athletics and historically boxing. Internally, soccer is the number one sport amongst the masses, but not as dominant on the world stage.

This weekend The Undisputed was privileged to visit the new and quickly developing South African Sporting Hall of Fame in the entertainment resort of Sun City. This resort was off limits for the majority of the world’s media and conscientious entertainers during the dark days of the apartheid years, but is now open for business.

This heritage and diversity of South African sports is represented in the Hall by a timeline display showing key moments of their sporting success.

Even during the dark days of sporting isolation Sun City managed to stage some of the biggest fights in South African boxing history, regularly featuring WBA Heavyweight champion Gerrie Coetzee and being the scene of International Boxing Hall of Famer Brian Mitchell’s winning of the WBA junior lightweight title against Alfredo Layne in 1986. As a result, and because of its rich heritage, boxing is well represented in the Hall.

Across a variety of collections of memorabilia, video and photographic essays and interactive displays, the careers of fighters like Vic Toweel (the first South African to win a world title (at bantamweight) and only one to solely make the cover of The Ring magazine), the aforementioned heavyweight Coetzee, the first black South African world champion Peter Mathebula (see last week’s LunchBox tribute), the shortest in height and multi-weight champion Jacob ‘Baby Jake’ Matlala (a particular favourite of former president Nelson Mandela) and multiple defending champions Brian Mitchell and Vuyani Bungu are represented.

Two weight world champion Brian Mitchell’s tribute

The displays and Hall, although very much still work in progress, are well worth a visit particularly for boxing fans, but also those who follow other major sports. There are excellent collections of memorabilia from 400m world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk and many displays showing the power and success of the South African Springbok rugby team, currently world champions for a third time.

A nice touch is also provided by a notice board on exit signed by all prominent sporting figures who have visited the Hall, many of who have displays, and other sporting officials, promoters and luminaries. One notable entry is from record breaking boxing world referee and judge Stanley Christodoulou (also featured in a recent LunchBox article).

Entry is for all sports nuts and included in an overnight stay at the resort and also purchasable by day ticket. It can be found in the main Sun Central building which also features the indoor arena that hosted many of the big fights held here. A must see.

Makabu captures WBC cruiserweight title

Also worthy of mention this week was regular South African visitor but Congolese Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu’s (27-2, 24 KO’s) winning of the WBC 200lb title. He scored a twelve round unanimous decision against previously unbeaten Pole Michal Cieslak (19-1, 13 KO’s). Official scores were 114-112, 115-111, 116-111.

The fight was also noteworthy for being the first world title fight held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) since the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ of October 1974 between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. The latter being victorious and famously regaining the World Heavyweight title.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

Are British fightfans being shafted ?

This week we heard numerous statements made by Eddie Hearn Head of Matchroom Boxing about Anthony Joshua’s possible future itinerary. We were told that he’s likely to defend in the UK against IBF #1 contender Kubrat Pulev in a stadium venue either late May or early June. This being subject to the Bulgarian Pulev’s agreement. We hear that this is the unified champs preference as he wants to ‘come home’.

In the same interview for BBC 5 Live Boxing we are told that Derick Chisora is likely to fight Oleksandr Usyk in March, again in a British venue and this is being sold as ‘a treat’.

However, what we are then told is if there is not a third fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury (the rematch currently slated for Feb 22nd) that a unification is possible between the winner and Joshua by late 2020. This would be unlikely given the logistics of pulling that fight together within six months, but added to that if, is that the fight is unlikely to happen in the UK.

The explanation we are told is that there are several potential venues around the world that could host that fight, that would offer the protagonists the greatest reward. An offer we are told is already on the table from Saudi Arabia and there are suggestions that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) formerly Zaire, where there has been a civil war going on for the last couple of decades and human atrocities are still being carried out, to replicate the historical legacy the venue for the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ would create. We hear AJ is interested in this.

Given that if Joshua beats Pulev, and Fury were to defeat Wilder, we would be presented with an all British fight to unify the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The Undisputed fails to accept and understand why this would not happen in the United Kingdom.

Every casual sports fan and even those who have a passing interest in boxing know the only fight that really matters down the stretch is Joshua against the winner of Wilder-Fury. Then finally we will know who ‘The Man’ is; the undisputed Heavyweight Champion (which would include Fury’s much quoted ‘lineal’ title).

We are constantly told how fantastic the UK fight fans are, that our venues create an atmosphere unrivalled anywhere else in the world, and this, they back up by shelling out millions of pounds to support their heroes. So why after seven years of supporting and building Joshua up to be the fighter he is, and similarly supporting the ‘Gypsy King’ Fury are we being told this might not happen in the UK ? The answer, to Hearn’s credit, we are truthfully told is money, but also legacy.

British fight fans have witnessed Joshua recently take fights in New York and Saudi Arabia, great experiences as they were for those who could afford to travel and watch over the satellite TV channels, but have they not earned the right to have the fight on these shores ? Whoever promotes or co-promotes the ‘winner take all’ fight whether it be Joshua v Fury or Wilder, has a duty to deliver that fight to a live UK audience. Their support, loyalty and hard earned cash deserves it.

We are some months and maybe a year away from that happening but Messrs Hearn, Warren and Arum should consider this in their final selection of a venue. Wishful thinking I know but if it’s not said now then British fight fans will again be shelling out on flights and all that comes with it. Not again I say.

The Monday LunchBox

Courtesy of africanring.co.za

‘Terror’ passes

Very sad news was received from South Africa in the last week with news of the passing of their first black boxer to win a world title – Peter ‘Terror’ Mathebula. A number of notable champions (Willie Smith, Arnold Taylor and Vic Toweel) had preceded him, but none before had represented the majority population.

Mathebula became an icon in his home country in December 1980 when he defeated South Korean Tae-Shik Kim on a split decision in Los Angeles to win the WBA world flyweight title. His victory was unexpected and came in the midst of the apartheid years and its associated struggles. Peter, a kid from Mohlakeng township near Johannesburg travelled across the world to give joy to his country and community.

His success at world level although miraculous and notable, was short lived, losing the title in his first defence to Santos Laciar, an Argentinian multi-weight champion.

A streetfighter from the age of 10, Mathebula’s career was also notable for winning the South African flyweight title in 1976. He had the distinction of fighting professionally the same opponent seven times – Johannes Sithebe. All were exciting fights and four with the South African flyweight title at stake. His last fight was in August 1983 finishing with a record of 36-9 with 17 wins inside the distance.

He died at age 67 following an illness and this tragedy was made the more heart wrenching with the death of his wife of 40 years just six days later from natural causes. A joint funeral will be held on Tuesday January 28th at the Ramosa Hall in Randfontein, near Johannesburg. Condolences and thoughts are sent from The Undisputed to all family and friends.