LAS VEGAS – For Tyson Fury, it was rightly an issue you shouldn't go to. Any suggestion that his rematch with Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight championship has racial undertones is offensive to him.
When host Jason Whitlock said this week in FS1's Speak for Yourself that the first fight between Wilder and Fury in 2018 was "a bit racist" for the pre-fight joke, Fury vehemently rejected this thought.
"We are all human beings. It doesn't matter whether you are black, white, pink or green. We share the same blood. We are human beings," said Fury. "This fight is not a racial war between blacks and whites. This is a fight between the two most powerful heavyweights in the world from head to toe. There is nothing racial about this fight. "
In another interview session that suggested that Wilder's win would mean more because it's Black History Month in the U.S., Fury didn't want any part of it.
"I don't really like this racist black-versus-white thing in Black History Month," he said. "I refuse to go into it. We are two people, two heavyweights. This is not a racial war. "
Anger is right – and that could be the most refreshing thing about the latest boxing heavyweight rivalry. Fury is from Manchester, England and is white. Wild from Tuscaloosa, Ala., Is black. And even though they exchanged a lot of trash talk during the construction of their two fights, it never dared to enter the race. Given the history of boxing, this is something remarkable.
Race was an element in heavyweight boxing that goes back to the time of Jack Johnson, the first big black world champion, and was still part of the advertising hype in modern times. It even had a nickname: the search for "The Great White Hope". There were films and plays on the subject.
Perhaps the worst example was in 1982 when Jerry Cooney challenged Larry Holmes for the WBC championship. Promoter Don King and Cooney's manager Dennis Rappaport led one of the sport's most racist promotions.
Long Island's Cooney was reluctantly cast as "The Great White Hope". White supremacist groups threatened Holmes with murder. Black groups threatened retaliation if Holmes was attacked. Police snipers were stationed around Caesars Palace. Holmes and Cooney just wanted to have a good fight, which they did when Holmes retained his TKO title in round 13.
The late Tommy Morrison, who won the vacant heavyweight WBO title by defeating George Foreman, was also awarded the Great White Hope label to promote his career, and racist overtones were part of Floyd Mayweathers' build Boxing match with UFC superstar Conor McGregor.
Wilder-Fury 2 had none of that. This is boxing, so the language wasn't always PG, but race wasn't part of the hype.
"This is really a tribute to the two fighters," said prominent promoter Bob Arum. "It's an element because it's obviously there. A man is black, a man is white. But it hasn't even played a temporary role in promoting this fight and the attitudes of these guys. They talk to each other to death. One is however, one thing is certain: racing has never been an issue. ”
Wilder-Fury 2 does not need a race to exaggerate the Saturday night pay-per-view battle at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. There is enough without going there. Fury is nicknamed "Gypsy King" and has a fan base of mainly British fans (black and white) and those who admire him for both his skill and talent. Wilder, a former Olympian, has built a fan base of Americans from mainly urban areas who admire his charisma and devastating clout.
Both have background stories. The 34-year-old Wilder started boxing to earn money for his daughter's medical treatments for spina bifida. Anger is a mental health attorney. They are both champions, with Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) making the 11th defense of his WBC title and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) trying to regain the belt after taking it off for substance reasons has been – abuse problems.
Both are giants: Wilder is 6-foot-7; Anger is 6-9. Both are undefeated and rightly the two biggest heavyweights in the sport. Their personas and talent are enough to get presumed rivals Premier Boxing Champions, representing Wilder, and Top Rank, who promote Fury, to agree on a revenue split between 50 and 50, and ESPN and Fox as partners at Promote and offer pay-per-fight through their various platforms.
The truth is, Wilder and Fury are perfect foils that have benefited from being at the same time. They have revived the once dormant heavyweight division and could make up to $ 40 million each if pay-per-view sales of mobile phones, tablets, and TVs hit 2 million. Next Sunday, the two rivals wish them all the best when they go to the bank.
"These are two heavyweight boxers who are all looking for jewels in heavyweight boxing," said Fury. "No more, no less."