Editor’s Letter: Fury vs. Usyk appears to be on the verge of imminent collapse

Three months after defeating Oscar Bonavena in December 1970, Muhammad Ali squared off against Joe Frazier in the biggest fight in the history of the sport. In fifty-one days contracts were signed, purses were agreed upon, and there was ample publicity. Both were to take home at least $2.5 million, a record fee for athletes of any kind.

It was easy then. Boxers by and large fought their closest rivals to find out who was the best rather than arguing for too long about who was the biggest draw. Because the best rivalries were being settled, the sport was attracting the public; It was reported at the time that more people watched Frazier defeat Ali than watched the Apollo 11 moon landing two years earlier.

As we go to press, Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk is in real danger of collapsing as they struggle to agree terms. How people conduct their own business is their own business but, gosh, it’s insane that the best veterans of their generation can cross their peaks so soon without fighting their closest rival.

After saying last year that Fury-Usik was almost certain for 2023, it is understood a deal was close for Saudi Arabia, where Skill Challenge Entertainment pulled the strings, but a suitable site, at least by the summer First, could not be finalized. The problem is, once the fighters and their respective teams get wind of the money on offer in the Middle East, parties in any other region are struggling to get attention. In the UK, for example, if they try to keep pace with the Saudis’ bank, only serious damage will result. But other territories have a climate that does not necessarily prohibit outdoor events during the hottest months, and stadiums and infrastructure are already in place to stage the largest events.

This left Wembley Stadium as the frontrunner on 29 April. However, with less money on the table than in the Middle East, both Team Fury and Team Usik demanded higher percentages to increase their bottom lines. As the case may be, one or both parties need to budge on their estimates of value for there to be competition.

However, as of the time they fight, who is entitled to the greater purse is apparently unknown. Fury is the charmer in the UK while Usyk holds three of the four belts. And those sanctioning bodies are an impatient bunch in such matters, with the WBA and IBF particularly keen to clamp down on opportunities for their mandatory challengers, Daniel Dubois and Filip Hergovic. For what it’s worth, Deontay Wilder and Joe Joyce hold respective positions with the WBC and WBO. Why the most influential figures in sport hold these organizations in such high regard is another matter.

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boxing news Fears we may soon hear what we’ve heard before: imperatives will be dealt with and fear not, the ‘indisputable’ fight will happen later in the year. But anyone who has been following the game in recent years should know that such a promise is akin to a parent saying ‘I will think’ to appease a crying child. We don’t doubt that this kind of scenario is what they’d want to do, but whether due to title stripping or upsets, recent history dictates that the longer a fight is left on the shelf, the less likely it is to happen. Is. be taken down

What is certain, however, is that a concerted effort has been made and is being made behind the scenes to make this a competition. The salarymen, despite the sleepless nights, want this fight as much as the rest of us. With so many moving parts blocking progress, though, it’s no wonder our collective dreams get dashed so often.

Back in 1971, there were two belts, though they were secondary to the larger issue of deciding the best heavyweight on the planet. And there were no regional complications and no interference from wealthy nations; With both Ali and Frazier being American, New York was the only logical choice for such a bout. So maybe it’s too easy to look to the past and bemoan the present, but no question, simpler times definitely made for more ease when it came to defining battles. How the current complex system will work in the future is unknown, but it certainly is a topic.

It’s been 23 years since Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield clashed in 1999 to find the best heavyweight in the world. A comeback was soon followed by a controversial draw, which Lewis won on points. Since that rematch, we haven’t had a significant fight in the division. There are some controversial exceptions which ultimately only underscore the point.

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After Lewis confirmed his retirement in 2004, Cory Sanders and Vitali Klitschko have met in a few bouts, including boxing news, felt the leading heavyweight would decide. However, Sanders and Klitschko were not universally recognized as the one and two that Fury and Usik are today. Boxers such as Chris Byrd, Jon Ruiz and Lamon Brewster were also in or around there.

Fast forward to 2011. Both Klitschko brothers were at the top of the division and for obvious reasons were unwilling to fight each other. So, when Wladimir took on David Haye – the only non-Klitschko to hold the belt – it was (and remains) the closest thing to Lewis-Holyfield at 21.scheduled tribe century.

Two other matches are noteworthy.

With Vitali inactive and headed for retirement in 2013, Vlad – widely regarded as the division leader – took on Alexander Povetkin in a bout that featured possibly the best two heavyweights on the planet at the time. Again, though, the clamor for Klitschko-Povetkin was nothing like the desire to see Fury-Usack in 2023. The last instance of a potential one-vs-two happened in February 2020 when Tyson Fury beat Deontay Wilder in their rematch. But with Anthony Joshua avenging Andy Ruiz Jr. two months earlier, Fury-Wilder II was far from finished business.

Let’s not be too downbeat. The current crop of heavyweights has produced a number of contests in recent years that will make their mark in the history books. Wladimir returning to test Joshua was a winning opportunity, each of the three Fury-Wilder contests will stand the test of time and Yusk, who has beaten Joshua twice, put on a stellar performance. Add to that the thrilling adventures of Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker and Joe Joyce and we can rightly say that we are living in the good old days.

What cannot be denied, however, is that there have been too many failures to put together a fight that would make the entire world stop and take note. The kind of fight that put boxing on the sporting map for all the right reasons. A World Cup, after all, can only be considered a success if there is a final at the end of it, regardless of how well the action has been in the preliminary rounds.

Klitschko’s reign of course made such a final impossible for reasons already explained. But Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder hasn’t happened since 2015. Fury vs. Joshua did not happen. Now Fury vs Ushik doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, at least not in the near future.

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In March 1971, Frazier was 27 years old, two years younger than Ali. Here in 2023, Fury will turn 35 in August while Usik turns 36 in January.

Elsewhere in the game, quality matchups are being signed and we should be thankful for that. Down at lightweight, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia are set to have talks on April 22 with world champion Devin Haney set to defend against Vassily Lomachenko next month. Arguably better than either of them, dominant super-bantamweight Stephen Fulton Jr. will travel to Japan on May 7 to defend two belts against the formidable Naoya Inoue. Thank god for the little ones.

Conor Benn on Pierce Uncensored

Conor Benn’s interview with Piers Morgan on Monday evening (6 March) did nothing to clean up his image with the boxing public.

Whatever your opinion on Morgan, at least he’s relieved to be asked the most obvious question: Why, if Ben has all this evidence to surely clear his name, should he take his case to a governing body? Not taking it do what it can – British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC).

Pride, said Ben.

If the objection is that by going to the BBBofC, and in turn going to the United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD), he will surrender to their ruling, he should look at the bigger picture instead. It seems Robert is keen to stick up his middle finger to Smith and co, the best way to do this would be to prove his innocence and never fight in Britain again. Told you so, now I’m taking my (substantial) business elsewhere,

The worst case scenario for Ben is that he is found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. If that’s the verdict, he can appeal. If that appeal fails, he can take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport where the truth almost always emerges. Hence any fear of unfair tests will disappear. It may take time but if he is adamant he is innocent, and truly believes he is innocent, walking that path now is the only way to clear his name.

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