Convicted Artist Magazine

Apr 25th
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fury-tyson-boxingI’ve long said that nowadays blue-chip prospects like Vanes Martirosyan will wait years for a title shot, while guys with a few losses will get their chance earlier.  This is not new.  Vernon Forrest had to wait a decade, while Justin Juuko got shot after shot.  What we need is some fighters with the personality of the stars, but the vulnerability of the also-rans.  Enter Tyson Fury.

So, Fury fumbled and bumbled his way to another decision win.  Now, Wladmir Klitschko is talking about facing him.  The only time I have seen him in a full-length fight, he was dominant but unimpressive against unbeaten no-hoper Rich Power.  He has already had a close call, and been hurt on more than one occasion.  Now, it’s true that even Muhammad Ali did not look invincible on his rise to the top, but believe me, I am not about to make that comparison.

Sometimes these semi-conditioned, wrong-game-plan heavyweight fighters are actually a great thing for boxing.  Particularly in the heavyweight division, we need people to (ironically in some cases) trim the fat.  The Damian Wills’, Israel Garcias, Travis Walkers, and Manuel Quezadas could have clouded up the landscape, but Cris Arreola cleaned them out.  He may not beat a Klitschko, but he’s exciting, powerful, and has a decent heart/chin combo to keep in the tough fights.  Maybe that is what young Fury is destined to be.  He’s already thinned a few bleak prospects: Power, Chisora… and that may be what we need more than a big star who can “carry the sport on his shoulders”.

In the era of big PPV numbers driving the motivation of promoters, we tend to get off track in our search for boxing excitement.  As die-hard fans know, the sport never rides on the shoulders of those big names.  That is for the mainstream, fair-weather fight fans.  They are the ones missing out on the Micky Wards, Pawel Wolaks, and the like.  Gone are the days when fractional belt-holders became cross-over stars.  Ray Mancini, Art Aragon, and Barry McGuigan would be unknowns today, even though they would have won more belts.  What can one big heavyweight star do to change this?  Nothing.  He would only fight twice a year.  It would certainly be PPV, and anything less than a barn-burner would be viewed as a disappointment.

We need fighters like Arreola and Fury to bring people back to the heavyweight division.  Between just the two of them you have Irish, American, British, and Mexican fight fans who will check them out once or twice... simply from the common ancestry.  Once television stars finding them more consistently, the rest of the boxing world will, too.  Darroll Wilson was a no-hoper from the 90’s, but he was exciting, had heart, and pulled off the occasional upset.  He could have been a fun TV personality, if boxing was still covered by mainstream media.

It is not hard to find boxing fans (even casual ones) in entertainment and media.  It is the most popular sport to make a movie out of, but that rarely translates into viewers for the real sport.  The fame comes too late.  If Jim Braddock and Micky Ward were still fighting they’d be PPV attractions, but the stories were told too late for that.  Jimmy Kimmel is a fight fan… as are many in television.  The divide is big, but it may not be one huge star that sneaks in and gets them watching the smaller cards again.

How could a big star accomplish that?  He is not on those cards!  Let a talk show host interview a Delvin Rodriguez, then pull away like he is promoting a CD, and tell viewers to check out Telefutura, ESPN 2, or Fox Sports that weekend.  That would go a long way towards bringing viewers.  If there were more real “promoters” left in boxing, they would already be on top of this.

Chris Strait

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