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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: THE TYSON FURY SHOW

By Paul Magno | September 11, 2023
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: THE TYSON FURY SHOW

Has the boxing world become universally united in their disgust for Tyson Fury? Did it take a gigantic Gypsy King-turned-wanker/dosser/sausage/bell’s end (not sure how our Brit brothers would say it) to pull together a deeply divided, tribalistic boxing world? At this point, could there be anyone, anywhere still enamored (or even mildly amused) by The Tyson Fury Show?

The press conference last week to hype Fury’s October 28 boxing match in Saudi Arabia with former UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou showcased the WBC heavyweight titlist’s whole tired routine, played out at extreme cringe level. He’s loud! He’s boisterous! What a mischievous rascal! And, look, he’s got a gut, like most of us do. What an everyman!

The reality is that The Tyson Fury Show, after it’s first two or three showings, was only tolerable as a prelude to a big fight or as a post-fight cool down after a big event. Outside of that, Fury is about as charming as an engorged hemorrhoid on a six-hour bus ride and his shtick is even less endearing now, as he essentially shoves fans’ faces in the fetid ass crack of a full-on money grab.

Now, mind you, I don’t really have a problem with exhibitions and/or the occasional money grab. I’m fine with fighters getting paid and making the most of their celebrity. Boxing is an unforgiving sport where nobody looks after the athletes after they stop having value as athletes. The problem with this particular hustle, though, is that it serves as an active and apparently insurmountable roadblock to the flow of the entire division.

I say “apparently insurmountable” because the WBC is not only fine with not having their heavyweight champ actually BE their heavyweight champ, but they’ve fully endorsed the silliness by creating a special “Riyadh championship” belt to be awarded to the winner of Fury-Ngannou. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if there were some sort of “sanctioning fee” tied to the fight as well, because, well, it’s the WBC. 

Fury-Ngannou hits way different than Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor back in 2017, and I recall the “purists” losing their shit about that one. For this fight, Fury fighting the MMA guy means that there will be no WBC title defense for the rest of this year and, if you listen to Fury, probably none in 2024 either.

“I’d like to fight Ngannou in the cage, I think I can beat him for sure,” Fury told media when asked about what comes after October 28. “He’s not a good wrestler, he’s known for striking and I’m a better striker than him. In little gloves, I’d knock him out in seconds…I’d fight Jon Jones also in the cage, if the money was right.”

But as for actual boxers and the contenders to his title?

“I have no interest in fighting those guys...because I'm bigger than all of them,” Fury told Sky Sports. “I'm a superstar, they're nobodies. And, yeah, I'm happy and they're not. I have everything that they want and there's nothing they can do about it...apart from getting in line, get themselves mandatory by ten organizations, fight eliminator after eliminator, for no money, like I did, and take ten years getting there. And when you get there, and then when you've been lineal champion for the longest ever, then come back to me."

By definition, nobody can become lineal without beating him, so, how would that be possible if he won’t fight them? 

Um, maybe, the same way Fury became “lineal” when he really isn’t?

I’d like to think that we all know that lineal champ stuff is utter nonsense in the present tense where there are, literally, no true divisional title lineages left. But I’ll repeat myself one more time on the matter, anyway. A lineage is only a lineage if it's an actual lineage. Tyson Fury is not “the man who beat the man,” tracing back to the prizefighting pioneers. The heavyweight title lineage died 20 years ago when Lennox Lews retired as the actual lineal champ. Fury is merely “the man who beat the man, who was appointed lineal champ status by some boxing media.” 

However, that bogus “lineal champ” designation did manage to aid Fury in this current hustle of his. Over the last few years, it brought him the fawning praise and marketing foothold which enabled this overflowing sense of entitlement that currently sees him bathing in dubious Saudi money as he holds a heavyweight title hostage. 

As long as he carries THE MAN lineal hook and has the support of the cash-lusting WBC, Fury can stall things indefinitely. No Usyk fight. No Joshua fight. No forcing him into doing anything he doesn’t want to do. 

And as for the media-- how, really, can they strip the man of the “lineal title” when they’ve made such a big deal about the importance of being “lineal?” Unless, of course, they admit that “lineal” is not really, actually “lineal” anymore. But we all know how unlikely it is for the boxing media to own up to its mistakes for the sake of the common good. 

Like I said, I have zero problem with cash grabs for fighters. But there’s a time and a place for these side hustles. And, when it comes to Fury, it’s just not classy for a con man to aggressively mock his marks like he’s been doing throughout the lead-in to this Ngannou fight. Yeah, okay, it’s all about the money and “going all the way to the bank, clickety clank,” but even hustlers should adhere to some degree of decorum. It’s also pretty shitty, by the way, that Fury’s con aids in the continued sportswashing of Saudi Arabia. 

Ultimately, like with everything in boxing, the fans will decide if the Fury-Ngannou hustle is a success or a failure. 

Fury’s career after that, though, may give us an answer as to just how far boxing fans can be pushed before pushing back.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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