Boxing and excuses go hand and hand.
Excuses range from George Foreman saying he was drugged before his historic defeat at the hands of Muhammad Ali back in October of 1974, to Carl Froch blaming a volcano for the loss he suffered in his initial contest with Mikkel Kessler back in April of 2010. Excuses come in all shapes and sizes in boxing.
Sometimes, fighters will even go so far as to come up with an excuse prior to the fight taking place. There is the infamous case of Chris Eubank, Sr. claiming Steve Collins being under hypnosis for their 2005 contest gave him an unfair advantage. I mean, Collins did end up winning, so...
The fact of the matter is that fighters and athletes would often times rather look to make an excuse for a loss than accept defeat and simply get better.
In the case of the rivalry between world Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former titlist Deontay Wilder, that fact couldn't ring more true.
Immediately following the pair's return bout in February of 2020, which saw Fury win by stoppage, Wilder and his diehard fans had a wide variety of reasons outside of skills or game plan for his defeat. Wilder did everything from accusing long-standing trainer Mark Breland of conspiring against him (before later firing him) to blaming his absurdly bulky ring-walk suit for tiring him out.
Then it was something about Fury tampering with his gloves, followed by members of the Wilder camp claiming he had been dealing with a pre-existing injury heading into the affair. The list seemed endless.
However, what many seem to forget regarding this pair of pugilists, is that the excuses actually began with their initial encounter.
In December of 2018, the men battled to a controversial and contested draw that left both men in a place where they felt they did enough to win. Fury thoroughly out-boxed Wilder in stages but was heavily dropped in the final frame, barely beating what many considered to be an extended count.
So, while both teams might have had a proposed claim to victory, they still had to deal with the fact that the other side had an equal grasp on that claim. Thus, pouring in came the excuses.
Naturally, for Wilder, cries of an extended count in the final stanza could be heard. Meanwhile, Fury and his supporters claimed the only reason Wilder was able to lay a hand on Fury in the first place was due to Fury taking off so much time before 2018 and having not fought the best competition for preparation leading to the event.
Again, throughout the history of their personal vendetta, the excuses have come from all angles, ranging from the possible to the absolutely absurd.
However, this weekend brings hope. Saturday, when the pair meet for what one assumes will be the third and final time, could be the day that all the excuses get put to bed and we finally reach a semblance of clarity in the Heavyweight division.
And this clarity is becoming more and more important.
The Heavyweight scene is very intriguing at the minute, something it really hadn't been during the Wladimir Klitschko reign (though, I won't blame him as he faced everyone he could face). However, you knew the primary operator at the weight and it wasn't a debate: The best Heavyweight in the world was Klitschko by a Ukrainian kilometer.
Effectively, we had little excitement above 200 pounds, but we had a legitimate champion beyond questioning. Now, the excitement is plentiful, but we can't say we know whom the best big man is with any unequivocal certainty.
Still, we are really only a few fights away from getting our answers. What we can't afford is a fight that leaves us with more questions.
We can't have Wilder demanding yet another rematch as he had this undisclosed injury or that costume mishap. We can't hear anything about Tyson Fury being wronged because he wasn't allowed to be active. One way or another, we need one fighter to win and move on to the other top contenders in the sport and the other needs to sit back and rebuild.
And that's most important now because you have to look at the average age of the men at or near the top of the Heavyweight landscape. Current unified titlist Oleksandr Usyk is 34. Former champion Anthony Joshua is 31. Fury and Wilder are 33 and 35-years-old, respectively. While Heavyweights tend to have more of a shelf life, let's not kid ourselves. These men are closer to the finish line than they are the start of the race.
In boxing, with political issues pertaining to broadcasters, promotional rights, etc. already standing in the way, you don't need another hurdle such as excuses blockading major fights. What is best for boxing at this moment is a clear cut winner that is allowed to move forward between Wilder and Fury that can help clean up the rest of the division.
We don't need any more excuses, we need a winner. Here's hoping Saturday provides just that.
Thanks for taking the time to read, I do greatly appreciate it. Would love to read your comments. If you're interesting in my predictions for Fury-Wilder III, Robert Helenius-Adam Kownacki II and Efe Ajagba-Frank Sanchez, you can click here
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