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This is Rummy’s Corner. On April 29, 2017 Anthony Joshua scored a dramatic 11th round stoppage against former long reigning heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko. Even though Klitschko lost and failed in his efforts to regain a unified portion of the heavyweight crown, his efforts were beyond admirable. Indeed, after getting outboxed over the first 4 rounds, and after being dropped hard in round 5, Klitschko exhibited the skills and championship heart that enabled him to become one of the longest reigning champions during the long rich history of heavyweight boxing. Klitschko was emboldened by the knockdown, and in the very next round he scored a beautiful knockdown of his own. Klitschko’s experience took over, and per his trademark, he was boxing effectively in methodical fashion.
Joshua rallied late and emerged triumphant, but Klitschko put on a brave performance after giving it his very best. In some ways, Wlad’s reputation actually improved following the loss, and the champion retired with his pride and dignity intact. In many ways, this is exactly the type of thing we saw with former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder last Saturday, when he met the reigning WBC/lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury for the third time. Wilder charged right out of the gate landing hard jabs to the body. Aware that Wilder was trying to make a big statement early, Fury was cautious with his early approach. But even when it became abundantly clear that Wilder was focusing his attention on Fury’s ample midsection, Fury was unable to deter Wilder, instead choosing to wait him out. Fury’s strategy paid off in round 2, where Wilder was sort of still dedicated to attacking
the body, but before long he got away from that and reverted to more familiar form. Fury began to settle in, and things began repeating a familiar pattern from their second fight. This trend continued into round 3. Wilder was throwing upstairs more, he was missing more, and Fury started becoming more physical. Fury hurt Wilder late in the 3rd with a 4 punch sequence that dropped Wilder. Deonty appeared hurt and bravely beat the count. Wilder survived the round, but his equilibrium was clearly disrupted much like it had been during most of their second encounter. At the end of round 3, it felt like we were about to see a repeat of the rematch. In round 4 Fury resumed with a mix of mauling tactics and front foot aggression, but he was never able to capitalize on the momentum he’d created the previous round. Wilder was trying to regain his composure, and Fury was trying to break him down.
But late in the round, Wilder drilled Fury with a booming right that sent a shockwave reverberating through his entire body, and Fury timbered down with a delayed reaction. That booming right was set up by a solid jab downstairs, and Fury appeared badly hurt. His equilibrium was now shaken, and Wilder had Fury down again with a short right, but it seemed like Fury was still feeling the impact of that initial thunder. Fury managed to rise again, and the round was over. At this point even I started believing in the so-called Rummy Curse. By the start of round 5, both men looked exhausted and had already been badly hurt. The tactical approach from both was almost completely abandoned, and a scrappy somewhat sloppy fight broke out. By this point, both warriors were exhibiting tremendous heart and determination as both heavyweights battled it out more on instinct than strategy. This general trend continued over the next several rounds.
Fury was the one generally displaying better fighting instincts, and he had a better fundamental foundation to fall back on in the midst of war. But whenever it appeared that Fury was starting to gain steam, Wilder would fire back in short explosive bursts. There was no quit in either man, and they were both giving it everything they had. It was truly an awe inspiring encounter between two relentlessly determined combatants. In the later rounds, as commentator Lennox Lewis expertly noted, Fury was having a tendency of smothering his own work, unable to create a little space. But the upside of this was there was a lot of scrapping in tight, and Fury was wearing Wilder down with sheer bulk and weight. Throughout rounds 7, 8, and 9, Wilder looked like he was ready to go at any moment. To say Wilder was digging down deep is a profound understatement. Wilder’s unrelenting self-belief was extraordinary, and he kept absorbing tremendous punishment
while searching for a way to score a knockout. And make no mistake, Fury was displaying tremendous courage in his own right in an absolute war of attrition. Midway through the 10th round, Fury landed a monster right that drove Wilder down to the canvas. Lesser men would have stayed down or quit long before this point, and this appeared to be the end. But nope! Wilder rose - again! He looked badly hurt, confused, and disoriented, but he refused to quit. Wilder not only survived the final minute of the round, but he was still trying his best to win! Fury’s unwavering determination ultimately prevailed, and he landed a dynamite sledgehammer right that dropped Wilder, prompting referee Russell Mora to wave it off. Wilder literally fought with every fiber of his being until he no longer could. And Tyson Fury overcame tremendous adversity to retain his heavyweight world championship.
This was easily one of the most mesmerizing heavyweight encounters I’ve ever witnessed live in more than 35 years as a boxing fan. For Wilder, this reminds me an awful lot of the effort Klitschko put forth against Joshua, where despite the losing effort - in both cases, an 11th round stoppage defeat - the losing efforts put forth were so extraordinary that their reputations improved, regardless of suffering a defeat. And this isn’t just true of Wladimir and Wilder, it is also equally true when it came to the victors, both Joshua and Fury, each of whom overcame adversity to secure a dramatic victory. But in the case of the 3rd fight between Fury and Wilder, there was something even more captivating about it, in large part because not only did each boxer rise from the canvas and battle in the face of difficulty, but in this fight they both had to rise from the canvas twice. And the fighting spirit among these two warriors is now forever immortalized by this contest.
And that isn’t to take anything away from the efforts of Joshua or Klitschko on that exciting night from 4 and a half years ago. But the nature of this 3rd fight between Fury and Wilder was something extremely special, making it an instant classic in the long rich history of heavyweight championship boxing. We’ve had some other exciting heavyweight title fights in recent years. In addition to AJ vs Wlad, we had the exciting first encounter between Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr, where once again, both guys tasted the canvas. Then there was the first fight between Wilder and Fury, which was another fun battle where the two styles contrasted more. In terms of non-title fights, the first bout between Povetkin and Whyte was a fun encounter. But none of these bouts had that timeless classic feel that exuded from the experience of watching Fury-Wilder 3. If we go back a little further in time, there was the incredible war between Brewster and
Liakhovich, but when compared to Fury-Wilder 3. that dramatic tactical slugfest still falls short in terms of both historical significance and drama. And even if we go back a little further in time, with the fight famously known simply as “TKO6” - when Lennox Lewis defeated Vitali Klitschko. That was historically significant, in a type of anti-passing of the torch scenario. That was a special heavyweight championship contest, an instant classic in its own right that is still highly debated to this day. But that classic fight lacked the closure to stack up against Fury-Wilder 3, and it likewise lacked the same degree of drama. Even if we go all the way back to 1992, the epic war in the first fight between Riddick ‘Big Daddy’ Bowe and Evander ‘Real Deal’ Holyfield - well that one certainly had a lot of action, a lot of drama, and unlimited heart and courage on display from two determined
warriors. It was historically more significant in the sense that the undisputed heavyweight championship was on the line, and there was a far higher level of skill on display in that one. Bowe-Holyfield 1 has forever solidified itself as an all time classic. Did Fury-Wilder 3 provide a more engaging viewing experience for boxing fans than Bowe-Holyfield 1? Oof madone! That’s a ridiculously tough call for me. But my point here is that this fight was such an incredible, undeniable instant classic, that you have to go back almost 30 years to find a heavyweight championship contest that perhaps rivals last weekend’s 3rd contest between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. That’s how amazing this war was, at least in my humble opinion. If we go back just a little further, we have the biggest upset in boxing history when Tokyo Buster Douglas slayed the invincible aura of Iron Mike Tyson.
That was historically significant, packed with drama, and another example of two heavyweights battling in the face of adversity. I personally believe that people tend to sell Iron Mike’s efforts short in this one, because despite having difficulty for most of the fight, he never stopped trying and almost turned things in his favor when he dropped Douglas with an obscene uppercut late in the fight. Douglas however preserved in an ultimately display of underdog courage, and in some ways, Tyson’s unwavering efforts reminded me of Wilder - and in both cases, the defeated boxer left every fiber of his being inside the ring that night. Matching the magnitude of that classic is a tall order, but it should be noted that much of the magic in Tyson-Douglas was predicated on the shocking nature of the inconceivably unexpected upset. In terms of the sheer brutality of it and the absurd amount of punishment endured by both boxers, in many ways, as I watched live, Fury-Wilder 3 most reminded me of Bowe-Golota
2. Not in terms of historical significance of course, and perhaps not even in terms of action and drama - but in terms of sheer brutality, Bowe-Golota 2 was an absolutely savage war, and neither boxer was ever the same after that. Physically, mentally, and spiritually - both fighters left a big part of their fighting spirit in the ring that night. Bowe and Golota absorbed obscene amounts of punishment. That is the exact type of thing we may have just seen here. It was such a taxing war that I’d be surprised if Fury or Wilder will ever be the same. You simply do not come out of that type of boxing war the way you go into it. Those types of wars change boxers forever And in that sense, an even better example might be the rubbermatch between Muhammad Ali and Smokin’ Joe Frazier - The Thrilla in Manilla. Every last fiber of true greatness those two had remaining was left in the ring that night
for sure. Frazier never won a fight again, and despite having 5 more consecutive title defenses and later regaining the heavyweight world championship a record 3rd time, Ali never had the same phenomenal mythical reserve that largely helped define his true greatness. The Ali-Frazier trilogy still represents the gold standard in heavyweight trilogies. No question about it. Between the Thrilla in Manilla and the Fight of the Century, the unprecedented historical significance surrounding their first encounter alone gives it the edge. Having the Thrilla as a final chapter seals the deal. And the oft-forgotten 2nd bout wasn’t too shabby, either. This is in no way meant to disparage the praiseworthy efforts put forth by Fury and Wilder. On the contrary, the fact that I’m even mentioning Ali-Frazier in the same light as Fury-Wilder is meant as a shining endorsement for just how special it was!
And with Ali-Frazier representing the gold standard of heavyweight trilogies, then prior to last weekend, the silver probably belonged to Bowe-Holyfield. And the bronze would undoubtedly be the epic trilogy between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johnasson. Then you also have the famous trilogy between Ali and Norton, and then you also have the unmemorable trilogy between Holyfield and Ruiz. I suppose you can also throw in the rivalry between Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott, although that was a 4 fight series, technically not a trilogy. Where does the Fury-WIlder trilogy fit in with the Big 3? Personally, I’m not exactly sure. In time, history will perhaps reveal the answer to that question. But what I can say, with the utmost confidence, is that the 3rd fight alone between Fury and Wilder makes it a valid part of this discussion. It was a heated rivalry that was fun, exciting, memorable, and immensely captivating.
Perhaps Fury-Wilder is less prestigious in the sense that it wasn’t a true rubber match, with the first fight being a draw. And perhaps the skill level might not have been on par, but one of the interesting things these trilogies have in common is that the 3rd fight was always the most brutal. That was true of Ali-Frazier 3, Bowe-Holyfield 3, and also Floyd-Ingo 3. And it’s also true of Fury-Wilder 3. As if once a heated heavyweight rivalry reaches that stage, the warriors are driven by an urgent unprecedented sense of pride and determination. So in the future when people discuss the greatest heavyweight trilogies of all-time: Muhammad Ali vs Smokin’ Joe Frazier Riddick ‘Big Daddy’ Bowe vs Evander ‘Real Deal’ Holyfield Floyd Patterson vs Ingemar Johnasson Make no mistake - the trilogy between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder is the defining rivalry
in this generation, and it absolutely deserves to be mentioned alongside the greatest trilogies in the long rich history of heavyweight boxing. What a truly amazing prizefight! An instant classic, indeed! Thank you very much for watching everyone, I hope you enjoyed, and have a wonderful night. This is Rummy’s Corner.
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