Friday, February 24, 2023

Paul-Fury: Will The Third Time Result In A Fight?

Originally, this observer intended to focus a column discussing what was to be two pay-per-view attractions back to back that was supposed to close out the month of February. As some know, the Adrien Broner-Mike Williams Jr. fight, which was to headline a BLK Prime pay-per-view card on February 25th, was cancelled last week when it was revealed that Williams had suffered a broken jaw while sparring in preparation for the bout. This cancellation not only put a halt at least in part to what was planned in the sport of Boxing for the final weekend of February 2023, but for yours truly, halted what I intended to cover at least in part. As for the other half/part of the equation, I will be honest with the reader, I had second thoughts as to whether I wanted to write a prelude for, simply because I have doubts as to whether or not the fight will actually take place. This observer is referring to the twice announced and twice cancelled pay-per-view meeting between YouTube star turned undefeated Cruiserweight Jake Paul and unbeaten Cruiserweight Tommy Fury, the brother of current WBC Heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury.

The on again, off again saga between the two is back on for a third attempt. This time on Sunday, February 26th in Saudi Arabia. Unlike the previous two attempts, which were to be broadcast on Showtime Pay-Per-View here in the United States, this will be broadcast on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View, if in fact it does take place. It should not be hard for any objective observer/reader to understand why a proud Boxing lifer as yours truly is, would openly be questioning whether or not a fight that has now been scheduled and announced for a third time will finally get in the ring. While I admit a bit of cynicism on my part, there is justification for such questioning.

For one, Tommy Fury was forced out of this potential fight twice, once because of injury and illness, and then his being unable to travel to the United States when the bout was rescheduled, which begs to question why the second attempt at rescheduling the bout was even announced when all parties knew of the unlikelihood of Fury being unable to travel to the U.S. due to what he said were Visa issues. While this is likely a reason why this bout is now at least scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia, it has done little to quell my doubts as to whether or not this fight will finally be in the ring as opposed to the long-onging war of words between Paul and Fury.

Although such grandstanding, for better or worse, does generate buzz and draw interest, some might be justified to say that it’s been more hype than it has been about an actual fight between two Cruiserweight hopefuls. The term “Hopeful” should be used here because after all, we are talking about two fighters, who even though they are unbeaten are not at a stage where they could objectively be considered “Prospects,” let alone “Contenders.” 

Despite his bloodline, Tommy Fury has only fought eight professional fights, but only one of those opponents had a winning record. Paul meanwhile, has built his unbeaten record of six wins in as many fights by fighting a fellow YouTube star in his pro debut, a former NBA player in his second fight, followed by four fights against former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world champions, all of whom Boxing was not their primary discipline. In fairness to Paul, his last opponent future MMA Hall of Famer Anderson Silva, did have some professional Boxing experience as well, despite being many years removed from his athletic prime at the time Paul fought him in October of last year. Nevertheless, the fact remains that if this fight with Fury does indeed take place, it will be the first fight for Paul against someone with a primary background in Boxing and one might take it a step further by arguing that it would be his first true fight as a boxer rather than a curiosity based on that.

Only adding to the “Hype” surrounding this fight if it does indeed take place, is the World Boxing Council (WBC) proclaiming that the winner of the fight will receive a ranking in it’s Cruiserweight ratings. While clearly an attempt by the WBC to generate publicity and to possibly take advantage of Jake Paul’s fan base, which are not compromised of knowledgeable Boxing fans and for whom, the sport is either newly exposed to them or of only a casual interest, the fact that one of Boxing’s oldest and regarded both positively and negatively depending on one’s perspective, sanctioning organizations would make such a declaration based on the resumes of both Paul and Fury up to this point, is frankly a joke and disrespectful to other fighters not just in the Cruiserweight division, but in the entire sport because it sets a precedent that will only lead to more criticism and ridicule not just for the WBC, but Boxing overall.

As the reader can probably tell by now, I have done little to hide both my doubts as well as my cynicism regarding this scheduled event. As such, this is not the standard pre-fight column that many have come to expect from this observer. One can only hope however, that if the scheduled event does actually turn into a fight in the ring, it will not be a fiasco and we will finally see whether Jake Paul and Tommy Fury for that matter are truly intent on being legitimate boxers. Although ridicule will likely follow, in particular in regards to the WBC, it would be nice to see some standard of the sport respected.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

Paul vs. Fury takes place on Sunday, February 26th in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The fight can be seen in the United States on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View for $49.99 beginning at 2PM ET/11AM PT.

ESPN+ is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs. For a list of compatible devices and to order please visit: *Check your local listings internationally.*

*Card and Start Time Subject to Change.*

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