John L. Sullivan, who is recognized as the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing, did not mince words on how tough he was. In the 1800s, he would go to bars in both Europe and America and boast that he could lick any son of a bitch in the room. The phrase itself looks extremely funny because our definition of lick has a totally different meaning. In case you are wondering what Sullivan meant, he was referring to the fact that there was no man in the room who could beat him in a fight. To Sullivan, being champion meant that you took on all comers to affirm your position. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind who the heavyweight champion is. Fast forward to 2018, and only one champion is following the footsteps of “The Boston Strong Boy.” The fighter I am referring to is Deontay Wilder.
As many of you have heard, the anticipated rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder is off. With Fury surprisingly signing to Top Rank, he has decided to work on building his presence in the United States. As much as I believe him, I also believe that the politics of boxing was a major factor in why the rematch did not happen. In a recent article from badlefthook.com, Shelly Finkel gave an explanation of why negotiations collapsed. It is clear that, from Finkel’s point of view, Arum wants total control of the rematch. With Wilder not wanting to go over to Top Rank, it essentially means that the fight will be on hold indefinitely. One thing is certain, Wilder is not the reason the rematch won’t happen. He has been the perfect example of a champion who calls out a fighter and actually means it. Another example of this is when he decided to fight Luis Ortiz. If you remember, “King Kong” failed a drug test and the bout was canceled. My thoughts were that Ortiz was never going to get a shot at Wilder and rightly so. He failed a drug test, and Wilder had every right not to give him a second shot. What did Wilder do? He gave Ortiz another shot to show the world that he was a true champion. That decision allowed us to see a thrilling heavyweight fight and one of the best boxing matches of that year.
I do not fault Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury for deciding to build their names in the United States. Boxing is a business and fighting in America is a great way for them to get more exposure. Let us also remember that it was Wilder who took the first step. When Fury announced his comeback, it was Wilder who went overseas to call Fury out during his comeback fights. Was it more of a calculated business move instead of a bravado stunt? My answer is that it was a bit of both. There is a reason why boxing is also known as “the hurt business”. Boxers put their lives on the line when they step into the ring. It is only fitting that they should get paid when they could get injured for our entertainment. However, boxers also have a primal nature to show who is the more dominant male. Sure, Wilder calls out Joshua and Fury because it means a big payday. There is also a sense of arrogance to his callout as if to say I am the Alpha out of all these men. He wants to prove to the boxing world that there is no equal to him when it comes to the sport of pugilism. He is a throwback to the days of John L. Sullivan challenging other men to a fist fight. For that reason, it may be time to acknowledge “The Bronze Bomber” as the true heavyweight champion.
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