The dust is beginning to settle on last weekend’s heavyweight extravaganza in Las Vegas, as Tyson Fury’s sweet-as-pie victory over Deontay Wilder answered many of the questions that were looming large over the division.
It was a dominant, one-sided beat-down as the “Gypsy King” cemented his place at the summit of the sport. However, in the eyes of the fallen champion, a 40-pound suit (complete with helmet and batteries, of course) proved the decisive factor in seeing a five-year reign come to an end.
Perhaps, it was an oversight of myself and the more extensive boxing media not to pose this question before such an important and career-defining bout.
Perhaps, column inches and podcasts were wasted discussing the fine-tuned intricacies of such a fascinating clash of styles, without once alluding to the crucial, result-hinging moments during each man’s ring walks.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Seeing Fury being physically carried to the ring by four scantily clad girls was a tactical masterclass by all those involved. It’s now glaringly apparent that the fight was won and lost in the 15 minutes preceding the chiming of the first bell.
ESPN went that step further this week in getting experts to analyze the costume’s effect on the physiological performance of Wilder.
OK, OK. Is this all going a bit too far?
Emanuel Steward was an infamous advocate of marginal gains. The legendary trainer would often highlight the importance of wearing boxing shorts that wouldn’t retain sweat, and therefore make fighter’s legs heavier throughout a contest. A valid hypothesis from one of the best boxing brains to have ever lived, but, regarding last Saturday’s suit-gate, I’m pretty sure we can chalk this one up as one of boxing’s strangest excuses.
As much as I’d like to attempt to build on the esteemed work of Karl Zelik, the co-director of the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology at Vanderbilt University, a dip into the archives of boxing excuses seems a little lighter and a more desirable direction to head.
“There’s nothing more boring than listening to excuses,” former super middleweight world champion Carl Froch told the Evening Standard back in 2013. If what he followed up with wasn’t dripping in gallons of irony, it would be fair to agree with him.
“I should have been better if that volcano hadn’t put up all that ash in the air,” the “Cobra” continued to explain ahead of his anticipated rematch with Mikkel Kessler the May of that year.
Froch was alluding to the unanimous decision loss he suffered to the Dane in 2010, citing the eruption of Grimsvotn, Iceland’s most active volcano, as the main reason for the first defeat of his career.
“My flight was cancelled, so I had a barbeque and ate some burgers and fizz pop,” he continued. “But the day before the weigh-in, I found out they’d put a private jet on for me, so I thought, ‘Sod it, I’ll go.’
“So I spent the night before in a red-hot bath trying to sweat off the weight and replicate a sauna. It left me a little bit drained but I went in thinking I could get him with just one shot. This time I’ll be better prepared.”
Froch would seek revenge three years later inside London’s O2 Arena in an all-out war which would prove to be the defeated “Viking Warrior’s” last appearance inside a ring.
Sticking with the Brits, and the biggest of smallest excuses has continued to follow David Haye around since the “Hayemaker” mounted a table in Hamburg to show the assembled media his little toe.
Haye had just dropped a unanimous decision loss to Wladimir Klitschko for the unified heavyweight titles but had convinced himself that a broken little toe on his right foot was the reason for this reasonably lopsided defeat.
“I couldn’t push off the right foot to throw the right hand,” Haye explained in the aftermath to the 2011 contest.
“I thought adrenaline would get me through it, but it was tough. It’s incredibly frustrating. We were thinking about pulling out three weeks ago but we couldn’t with all these great fans here.”
More than the result stunk in 2009, as Kermit Cintron claimed that Sergio Martinez’s hair gel was the reason for an under-par performance against the Argentine. “Maravilla” was forced to settle for a majority draw against Cintron who was on the verge of being counted out in the seventh-round of their WBC interim junior middleweight title fight.
“I’d like to get a rematch against Sergio Martinez. Some people disputed the draw. Look, the guy wore so much hair gel and mousse, that the fumes were making me dizzy. And I still managed to put it on him on only four weeks’ notice. Let’s clear the air for good. With an eight week camp, I knock him out. Simple as that!”
Alexander Povetkin’s sense of smell is up there with Cintron’s. Despite getting a majority decision over Marco Huck in 2012, the Russian’s team claimed post-fight that “Sasha” was distracted by a smell emanating from the German throughout the contest.
“Winners win, and losers have excuses,” Floyd Mayweather claimed following his underwhelming win over Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Floyd dominated the Filipino for large portions of their over-marinated contest and was clearly irked by Pacquiao’s post-fight claims that his shoulder was injured before the bout.
Wrong socks, wrong gloves, blisters and the failing of God to heal his shoulder in the waters of Lake Minnetonka are just some of the gems “Pacman” has delivered to us his illustrious career.
Chris Eubank’s excuses entered a completely different territory in 1995, claiming he was afraid to face someone – in Steve Collins – that had become “mechanically altered.”
Collins had told the eccentric Briton that he had been hypnotized in the lead up to their super middleweight title bout – something that Eubank would later fall back on as an excuse for losing on the scorecards.
“He backed off a bit, and I could see that I had scared him,” Collins explained some years later. “Someone said to me ‘what’s going on here’, and I told him that I had been hypnotized and that I had a hypnotist with me in the room. I could see him react to that immediately; he wasn’t comfortable with it at all.”
These barrel-scraping excuses look set to continue in the fight game when a slice of humble pie would prove a lot easier for the watching public to digest.
Still, you gotta laugh.