By Terence Dooley
Tyson Fury continued to provide entertainment for casual boxing fans with an error and knockdown strewn third round TKO win over Neven Pajkic at Event City, Manchester on Saturday night to move to 17-0 (12). Channel 5 carried the fight here in the UK.
Fury admitted to wild mood swings during the week. Declaring that he is suffering from either depression or manic depression and vowing to kill his opponent after Pajkic’s jibes over the jail sentence incurred by John Fury, Tyson’s father.
Neven, now 16-1 (5), poured scorn on the Mancunian’s claims, arguing that Fury is like “Soup without spices” and that the 6’ 9’’ British and Commonwealth champion needs the extra edge. The Canadian must have missed out on some of Fury’s previous interviews, fights and outbursts.
Mick Hennessy promoted the show; he described the fight itself as a heavyweight Hagler-Hearns – Tyson was down in the second before flooring his man twice in the third to force referee Phil Edwards to prematurely halt the bout at 2:44 of the round. The promoter has an ear for hyperbole and is now seeking an opponent for Fury’s next outing, rumoured to be on January 28th at Blackpool’s Emperor Sport’s Rooms.
Step forward former Olympic gold medallist, EBU titlist and world title challenger Audley Harrison. ‘A-Force’ lost his Strictly Come Dancing spot on Sunday evening, he intends to put the Tango to one side as he bids to have one last try at making something out of his boxing career, although you can argue that an Olympic medal plus the EBU belt is not to be sniffed at.
The mere mention of a Fury-Audley match results in either a chorus of approval or howls of derision. With the most prominent argument against the fight focussing on the disgrace it would bring to the sport and the belief that Audley will turn people off. Anecdotally, this does not hold water, in my workplace the names on the lips of casual fans are Tyson Fury and Audley Harrison as opposed to, say, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
For good or bad, people know who Audley is and want to see him knocked out, in the main, with a minority who want to see him come good. Like it or not, the fight, with a no doubt explosive build up, will entice the general punters, people who dip in and out of boxing and still recognise the Harrison name.
Those who argue against it have a valid position yet these counter arguments are not really geared towards the good of the sport or the need to protect the image of boxing. If this was the case then calls for Fury-Dereck Chisora II would not be voiced.
Audley’s a ‘disgrace’ to boxing. This goes without saying, right? Even though he has not bitten an opponent, almost caused a riot with a kiss at a weigh in or turned up for the fight of his life 17lbs over his optimum weight and minus all semblance of desire and will to win – he at least got into shape for his meeting with Haye. Chisora hardly did the sport a favour by turning up grossly overweight for his first fight with Tyson, when biting Paul Butlin or by planting a smacker on Carl Baker.
Also to bear in mind is the PR side, something that Chisora showed little or no interest in last time out. Indeed, 5’s pre-fight interview with the Londoner played on the fact that Chisora did not really want to plug the bout and seemed more interested in flogging second hand cars. Are we to believe that the executives are phoning Mick and stating that “We want a fight between Fury and that guy who couldn’t be mithered when it came to prompting and fighting last time out. Plus a win for the away guy would see two titles and Tyson’s ‘0’ disappear to a subscription network.”
Do not believe it when it is said that this rematch is good for the domestic division or the sport itself. It is only good for FWP and BoxNation as ‘Del’ should win this time and will take the Lonsdale heavyweight crown, one Britain’s premier belts, back to a channel that is due to be hidden behind a pay wall and is still in the formative stages.
Plus Chisora is due to fight Robert Helenius on December 3rd so is unlikely to be out again in March. Throw in the fact that Dereck is capable of beating ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ and you have a situation in which Tyson holds two belts, Chisora holds a better one and there are endless arguments over which network gets to show the fight and other political concerns. There is also the small matter of Chisora telling Steve Bunce that he is not keen on the rematch at the moment because he wants both to become bigger names before a return.
Who does this leave for Tyson’s Blackpool date? David Price? Currently injured plus he has a fight with Darren McDermott lined up and a right hand that would turn Fury’s lights out if it connected – this one is unlikely to happen any time soon, if ever. Tom Dallas? Coming off a bad defeat and unlike Audley’s it is not a world title reverse. Sam Sexton? Again, he is capable of upsetting the applecart and disappearing onto another channel. Martin Rogan has already negotiated his way out of a showdown once and is far more likely to meet Fury over in Ireland at some point.
So no Chisora, Price isn’t right and the other names are not actually names – leaving Audley as an enticing option. Take away personal feeling for Audley, think about profile and you have a fight that will sell, freak show maybe, a risk certainly but the argument that Audley is consistently in dull fights holds no water and Fury is impossible to miss with a straight shot.
Since losing in snoozers to Williams and Dominic Guinn, Audley has suffered a belting KO loss to Michael Sprott, lost an entertaining one against Rogan, produced a stunning KO when injured and behind in his rematch with Sprott before failing to fire against Haye in a contest which helped kill PPV, is said to have turned off the casuals and is held up as a disgraceful chapter in the domestic scene. A farce that Haye helped make, hype and then exacerbated by boxing cautiously early. Was Haye railroaded out of the sport? Of course not, his fight with Wlad Klitschko made a lot of money for a lot of people and his part in the Audley fiasco was put on layaway until he had fought Wlad in front of an eager press section. Then the knives came out for the former WBA title holder.
Audley has become a go-to bogeyman convicted of crimes against the sport whilst others are given a pass because they are either economically viable or have a positive profile. Audley’s not been great for boxing nor has he killed it, the repulsion over the thought of him taking on Fury does not add up.
On the plus side, Blackpool is the gaudy home of ballroom dancing, Audley is fresh from Strictly Come Dancing, so Fury-Harrison in Blackpool is hardly a hard sell. Throw in the amateur angle, Audley won Gold in 2000 whereas Fury left the unpaid ranks in disgust amidst claims that his face did not fit, and it looks a lively one.
On the other hand, Mick previously stated that bringing Audley into the fold on 5 is not a good idea. Mick, though, has said a few things lately. Still, if he went back on his vow we would have a fight that featured a boxing first as a promoter has never said one thing only to go back on themselves down the line. This ‘Promoter contradicts a previous statement’ angle will be as shocking and as fresh as news that a politician has told a lie or that the Pope wears a hat.
There is one more option. We do not hear anything about an opponent this side of Christmas, nothing much happens in the New Year and instead of Harrison, Price, Sexton, Rogan (who will surely be held in reserve for Tyson’s mooted March appearance at Madison Square Garden), Chisora or Dallas we get a foreign fighter that only the hard core have heard of, which hardly does the sport a massive favour when it comes to capturing the imagination of the great unwashed.
It would be a brave move, perhaps foolhardy, but making Fury-Harrison would generate attention and guess what? If it all goes wrong we could always blame Audley and move Tyson onto bigger things, this approach worked after Haye-Harrison so could easily fly again.
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