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Zimmerman, Boxing, and Civic Duty

Springs Toledo

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 New thoughts on old values for the Home of the Brave

No winner can rightfully be declared after The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman. It was a tragedy that became a fiasco after it was hijacked by an irresponsible media that longs to see a house divided.

The New York Times set the tone. It shrugged off the killer’s Peruvian identity and called him a “white Hispanic” and so reduced the fourth estate to a schoolyard instigator. The President—  who won’t be referred to as a “white African American” though his mother was as white as Zimmerman’s father— has been intimately involved. As a matter of law, it is settled: Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in an act the jury determined was self-defense. But it isn’t over. The victim was brought up in the New York mayoral race just yesterday, outrage floods the internet, and protests continue in urban communities, including Chicago, where the reverends are wondering where the spotlight is when it comes to harsher realities like black-on-black murder.

At the center of it all is a quiet grave in Dade Memorial Park and a forgotten truth: A young man is dead and America is poorer for it.

Martin was one of our own. A child of divorce, a good to middling student who wanted to work in aviation as a pilot or mechanic, a recreational drug user, and a cell phone addict. He was also a six-foot, one-inch seventeen-year-old who liked to fight.

Zimmerman, and every other “Zimmerman” in the new America, would do well to learn how to fight.

DEADLY FORCE
According to the U.S. Justice Department, murders committed with a gun dropped 39% over the past twenty years. Other crimes committed with a gun dropped 69% during the same period. Possible explanations include lower birth rates, a combination of pro-active policing and long-term incarceration of chronic violent offenders, more social programs and government assistance, and the so-called “graying of America” (violent crime, like boxing, is a young man’s activity).

Few experts attribute the decline to private gun ownership, which has doubled since 1968. The U.S. leads the world in guns per capita, according to a survey conducted by a Swiss research group. It’s no contest; our rate is three times Canada’s and six times Mexico’s. In real numbers, there are over 310 million legally-owned guns across the land of the free, and sales are up.

That’s a problem.

The U.S. remains one of the most violent industrialized nations on the planet. And make no mistake; our natural propensities are made that much worse because our guns are within reach. The National Rifle Association disputes this and stands on the assertion that gun ownership is the mark of a patriot. It spotlights examples of self-defense with a licensed gun as much as the mainstream media buries them. The NRA’s lnstitute for Legislative Action invites supporters to contribute stories about the heroics of the “Armed Citizen” protecting person and property. Thus far this summer, there have been eleven entries.

But the facts shoot back. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that “less than 1% of non-fatal violent crime victims reported using a gun to defend themselves.” Meanwhile, the likelihood of suicide, lethal domestic violence, and accidental deaths increase dramatically when a gun is in the house. Homicide and “unintentional gun fatality” rates are off the charts, and they are especially bad in areas with more privately-owned guns and less gun control.

We have an image problem. An enduring one is that of the square-jawed American carrying a musket with one foot on a rock. It hearkens back to the Revolutionary War, when British soldiers invaded these shores and the call went out to every able-bodied colonist for the defense of hearth and home.

The second amendment is a tribute to that image.

What happened on the night of February 26th 2012 in Sanford, Florida is not.

BOXING: A CIVIC DUTY?
Able-bodied citizens in a first-world country should not need to carry a firearm to feel safe.

Self-defense is an absolute right, but overkill is not. Simply stated, if George Zimmerman knew how to use his fists, he would have spared the life of a teenager and prevented a media-driven frenzy that divided the American house still further.

Zimmerman was described by a witness for the defense as “a very nice person, but not a fighter.” Dennis Root, an expert in “use of force” testified that he considers several factors when examining self-defense cases including gender, age, size, physical abilities, and special circumstances that can figure into such situations. Particular emphasis is placed on background and training, and for good reason. When a person finds him or herself under attack, the immediate question is whether the person is equipped to repel the attack.

When presented with the defense’s version of events that said Zimmerman was punched in the nose and soon mounted and pummeled before shooting his attacker, Root had this to say: “I don’t know what else he could do based on his abilities…not to be offensive to Mr. Zimmerman, but he doesn’t seem to have any…”

Years ago, I was hitting the speed bag in the basement boxing room of the Boston YMCA when a grey-headed trainer approached. The trainer’s name was Pete Cone. “Three hoodlums just tried to rob me,” he said. He was well into his fifties at the time and took care of his housebound mother. He had an easy smile, a twinkle in his eye, and was so soft-spoken you’d have to lean in to hear him. I heard him. “Whoa! Whoa!” I said. “—You all right? Where are they?” Pete said, “I’m fine, just fine… I managed to knock two of them down but the third one, well, he ran off and I just couldn’t catch up to him.” It should be mentioned that Pete also created monsters and once fought an exhibition with the late, great Emile Griffith.

The sweet science is a social hub for stories like this, and they’re not hard to substantiate:

  • Last year, an eighty-four-old former fighter named Peter Sandy was walking to a Tesco store in Cambridge, England when a mugger pulled a commando-style knife on him. According to Mail Online, Sandy threw a left hook and the mugger fell to the ground. “When he recovered, he ran off.” Sandy said. “The punch was instinctive. I used to train for six hours a day and in that moment it all came back to me.” He retired fifty-six years ago. The article is entitled “You Picked the Wrong Guy!”
  • Rossie Ellis was a middle-aged ex-boxer when he was stabbed in the arm with an ice pick. According to the Hartford Courant, he turned around and knocked out the man who did it.
  • Last October, the Telegraph reported that Amir Khan and his brother, also a professional boxer, fought six men who tried to steal his Range Rover. One of the attackers took a swing at Amir, who was three months removed from his third career loss, and was knocked cold when Amir pulled back and countered. The other five went down like Whac-A-Moles.
  • In Oklahoma City last December, a young man broke into the garage of a boxer, took a swing at him, and ended up taking the beating of his life. The young man’s mug shot says it all: both eyes swelled shut and gauze stuffed up his nose and in his lip. The Blaze entitled the article “This Is Why You Never, Ever Break Into a Boxer’s Home.”
  • In Manhattan around 1970, a well-dressed elderly gentleman sat in the back of a taxi stopped at a red light. He spied two “young punks” running toward the doors on either side. While the driver sat terrified, his fare clambered out and “flattened both” with a right cross for one and a left hook for the other. Two unofficial knockouts can be added to the record of Jack Dempsey.

These types of confrontations are every-day occurrences or close to it. Most go unrecorded though the result is the same —no one had to die.

When Zimmerman joined the Kokopelli Gym in Longwood, Florida, he was obese. He did a commendable job losing weight and turned up in a boxing class. At his trial, gym owner Adam Pollock testified that he was considerably “nonathletic” and never advanced beyond shadow boxing and working the heavy bag. “He didn’t know how to effectively punch,” Pollock said, though the fault of that would lie with the trainer, not a willing client. An advertisement for the Kokopelli boxing program asserts that “transferring energy to a specific target is a skill that ANYONE can learn providing they have the right coaching.” It goes on to invite clients to “learn to hit with POWER regardless of gender, size or age” and “develop practical defensive fundamentals like catching, parrying, redirecting and leverage stopping.”

Pollock made it clear that in his gym, novices are not allowed to spar until they develop the requisite skill. Zimmerman never developed the requisite skill. However, he also took a grappling class and managed to advance enough to work with a partner.

“It’s very important to understand the difference between the two concepts,” Root testified. “In grappling you have the opportunity to what we call ‘tap out’. You can say ‘I quit’ [or] ‘I give up’ if something hurts too much.” Not so in boxing. “In boxing,” Root said, “when you enter the ring with another person, you find you’ve entered into too much, you know, more than you can handle when you’ve been punched and injured already.”

It’s an important differentiation.

It is nearly certain that a fight between Zimmerman and Martin took place on the grounds of the gated community. The defense presented a narrative that placed Zimmerman outside of his vehicle looking for an address to assist police in locating what he believed was a suspicious person. When Zimmerman proceeded back to his vehicle, Martin supposedly appeared and said “What the f*ck’s your problem, homie?” Zimmerman replied, “Hey man, I don’t have a problem.” Martin approached with a balled fist and said “you have a problem now!”

—Even if we accept the defense’s version of events, an incident that begins with a conk on the nose should not end with a call to the coroner, particularly if the victim is an able-bodied male.

Had Zimmerman been trained properly and/or took boxing more seriously, he could have slipped the first blow and countered it with his own. Eventually, he could learn to counter a blow with a six-punch combination like the great Peruvian light heavyweight Mauro Mina, the “Bombardero de Chincha.” Who knows.

We know this much: The sweet science is extraordinarily effective in the street. It breeds confidence, teaches self-control, sharpens the senses, and has been known to remain viable for self-defense long past physical primes. It can cancel out disadvantages in size and flab and it gives citizens something to hold on to, something other than cold steel. A well-schooled left hook is enough to dissuade most anyone from bad intentions. There is no need to kill him. Let him get up, wipe the red off his face with his sleeve, and stumble on his way. Once his head clears he’ll have new manners to think about.

The iconic image of the stalwart American proudly bearing a firearm is selling us short. For a people who have historically prided themselves on self-reliance and skill, why bring a gun to a fist fight? Patriots shouldn’t and true tough guys wouldn’t. The end result is only trauma for victim, shooter, and everyone around them. We just witnessed how traumatic it can be for the whole country.

There are a hundred forty-nine handgun ranges and a hundred sixty-nine boxing gyms in Florida.

Neither is hard to find.

 

 

 


Art credit: “Blood, White and Blue” by Jace McTier. http://www.mctierart.com/country_pride_boxing.html

See “Gun Violence is a U.S. Public Health Problem” (Celeste Monforton 7/13/12) for details not otherwise referenced. Dempsey’s late-in-life double knockout is found in his autobiography, Dempsey (written with Barbara Piatelli Dempsey, New York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 285.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at scalinatella@hotmail.com.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 86: Heavyweight Impact, Thompson Boxing and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 86: Heavyweight Impact, Thompson Boxing and More

Any time Yanks fight Brits, expect a battle of epic proportions, but when you add rival networks, well now it’s getting downright nasty.

When undefeated WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) steps in to face lineal champion face Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday Feb. 22, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it pits not only PBC versus Top Rank, but FOX versus ESPN pay-per-views.

These are all good things.

Aside from bragging rights for the winner’s side, the absolute winners could be boxing fans especially those waiting for other potential fights between PBC and Top Rank. This heavyweight clash could be the foot-in-the-door needed for boxing.

Think: welterweight showdowns between Top Rank’s Terence Crawford and PBC’s Errol Spence Jr. as a follow up. There are many other potential matchups.

All this could be the next step after this repeat heavyweight showdown.

Wilder brings his explosiveness against Fury’s tactical and incredible agility for this return match. Can they match their first encounter?

Back in December 2018, in Los Angeles, the two heavyweights boxed and slugged their way to history with the best heavyweight world championship fight of the 21st century, even topping 2003’s Lennox Lewis versus Vitali Klitschko that also took place in Los Angeles.

Great heavyweight battles are not as common as one would think. They don’t throw as many blows as welterweights and usually they are as slow as glaciers. They can lull you to sleep with their slowness.

“I’m the hardest hitting heavyweight of all time,” said Wilder when in Los Angeles.

Wilder and Fury mesmerized the public with their clash of styles especially after the tall Brit with the clever lines was dropped in the ninth and 12th rounds. How he got up to fight remains a mystery to me and many others.

“He put me down twice and here I am,” said Fury who twice beat the count after knockdowns in their first encounter at the Staples Center.

Very few heavyweight title fights can equal Fury-Wilder’s first meeting.

Memorable Heavyweight Battles of the Past

Here are a few heavyweight world title fights I saw that I actually think measure up:

Riddick Bowe versus Evander Holyfield 2 in Las Vegas on November 6, 1993.

Larry Holmes versus Ken Norton in Las Vegas on June 9, 1978.

Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier 3 in Quezon City, Philippines Oct. 1, 1975.

Wilder and Fury 2 should be similar to their first encounter but expect the fight to end in less than 12 rounds. They know each other’s tendencies, strengths, and definitely know each other’s weaknesses. Expect a knockout but it remains to be seen who gets the knockout.

Yes, we know Wilder has the power but does he have the chin?

This time Fury will be willing to test Wilder’s chin with a full-out attack and that should come early in the fight. This fight should not go past five rounds. Either Wilder goes down and out or Fury goes to sleep. Someone’s not beating the count.

I truly don’t know who wins this rematch.

20th Anniversary for Thompson

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I attended Thompson Boxing Promotion’s first boxing event at the very same Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California back on March 5, 2001. Carlos “El Elegante” Bojorquez was the headliner on that card and the super welterweight fight ended in a technical draw due to a clash of heads opening a cut on Bojorquez.

That was the first Thompson Boxing card and here we are on Friday February 21, 2020 with the Orange County-based company showcasing another gem in Ruben Torres.

One thing about Thompson Boxing they know how to discover talent and have a string of world champions and contenders in its 20 years of existence. Torres could be the next. They still have Danny Roman who recently lost the WBA and IBF super bantamweight titles by a narrow decision. But regaining a world title remains a reality.

Torres (11-0, 9 KOs) faces Gabino Cota (19-10-2, 17 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight clash that will probably not go the distance.

I’ve seen all of Torres’ fights and through this three-year journey the 5’11” tall lightweight has been honed into a precision fighting machine by trainer Danny Zamora in Santa Fe Springs, California.

Zamora rarely gets credit for his ability to develop boxers into world class prizefighters but he has an extensive history of success. From Yonnhy Perez to Torres the Santa Fe Springs trainer has quietly produced multiple elite pugilists for just as long as Thompson Boxing has existed. Catch his act.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets or information call (714) 935-0900.

Ryan’s World

It’s been nearly one week since Ryan “The Flash” Garcia knocked out Francisco Fonseca in the first round of their regional title fight at the Honda Center in Anaheim. If you haven’t seen the highlight, go ahead and take a look. The entire fight lasted only 1:20 and it seemed shorter.

Garcia was not fighting a low caliber fighter. Let’s get that straight. Fonseca gave both Tevin Farmer and Gervonta Davis a difficult time. He couldn’t do the same against Garcia.

Fonseca has a lot of talent and a good chin. In fact, the day after losing to Tank Davis by illegal blows behind the head, the fighter who lived in Costa Rica visited my home in Southern California and seemed more than healthy despite the fouls committed against him and allowed by the referee and Nevada State Athletic Commission. Though Fonseca’s team took their complaint to the Commission – with extensive footage showing the hits behind the head – the loss was not overturned.

Over the years I’ve seen Garcia fight both as an amateur and professional and it was obvious to me and almost every major promoter in America that he has talent. All were interested in signing Garcia once he turned 18.

Well, Golden Boy signed him and here he is on the precipice of a world title challenge. It’s not a surprise to those in the boxing game. It’s only a surprise to those that truly don’t know prizefighting. This kid is for real.

Oxnard

On open workout for the public will be held by Diego Magdaleno at La Colonia Gym in Oxnard, California on Friday, Feb. 21. The workout begins at 5 p.m. and equipment will be donated to the boxing club by Shannon Torres Gilman.

Magdaleno, a lightweight contender who scored a big win on national television last weekend on the Plant-Feigenbutz card, is the older brother of former world champion Jessie Magdaleno. He is also training and managing former female world champion, Crystal Morales, who is scheduled to fight on March 27 in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Fights to Watch

Fri. 8 p.m. Thompsonboxing.com – Ruben Torres (11-0) vs Gabino Cota (19-10-2).

Fri. 11:30 p.m. Telemundo – Saul Juarez (25-10-2) vs Jonathan Gonzalez (22-3-1).

Sat. 6 p.m. FOX or ESPN pay-per-view – Deontay Wilder (42-0-1) vs Tyson Fury (29-0-1); Emanuel Navarrete (30-1) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2); Charles Martin (27-2-1) vs Gerald Washington (20-3-1); Javier Molina (21-2) vs. Amir Imam (22-2).

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Wilder, Fury Both Believe Providence is on Their Side

Bernard Fernandez

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Wilder, Fury Both Believe Providence is on Their Side

You hear it more and more frequently at the conclusion of significant sporting events, including boxing matches. The winner or key-play maker for the victors thanks God for His supposed intervention, thus giving the impression that the Almighty, like many humans who pray that their wagers pay off, plays favorites on the field or in the ring, perhaps even to the point of running a celestial bookie operation.

Remember how it was when Joe Louis knocked out Adolf Hitler’s favorite heavyweight, Max Schmeling, in the first round of their June 22, 1938, rematch at Yankee Stadium? Millions of Americans considered it an affirmation of Divine Intervention, of Star-Spangled good conquering the pure evil of all that the Nazis represented, and never mind that Schmeling found Der Fuhrer as repugnant as did Louis and his vast legion of admirers.

Nowadays, choosing whom to support in a major fight, emotionally and financially, is not always so cut-and-dried. Some will plunk their money down on someone representing their country or home region, more pragmatic types are apt to follow their heads instead of their hearts. But the bedrock principle of gambling still most often applies: when in doubt, root for whichever individual or team will yield a profit rather than a loss.

Given that Saturday night’s megafight between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and lineal titlist Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) is about as close as it ever gets to being a 50/50 proposition (Wilder is favored by the narrowest of margins), many of those backing their play with big bucks might have to confess that they’re doing so with fingers crossed and fervent prayers offered to a deity that may or may not have determined the outcome beforehand.

But there are two individuals who profess to be absolutely certain of a favorable outcome at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, and not just for reasons that are presumably based in fact or logic. Wilder, the pulverizing puncher from Tuscaloosa, Ala., has offered his opinion that God indeed has blessed his cause, much as it was widely believed nearly 82 years ago that the king of heaven wanted Louis (also a native Alabaman, for those who take note of such things) to whack out Schmeling. But a different certainty is being offered by Fury, the gigantic “Gypsy King” from the United Kingdom who also claims he has it on good authority that it is his destiny to emerge triumphant.

Wilder, who had an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican in December, at which time he was named the papal Ambassador for Sport, said he has been aware since childhood of the plan God supposedly has for him.

“I’ve always had power,” he said. “I always tell the story of how my grandmother said I was anointed by God, that God is trying to use me for things. It’s just all about living, coming into this world and finding your purpose in life. I think I found one of my purposes in life, and of course that’s whupping ass and taking names. And I do that very well.

“I’ve just been blessed tremendously. It’s one of the things I can’t describe how it transpired. When you have a calling in life, it’s just that. I just have a calling all my life. I’m showing the world who I am and what I am.”

Fury doesn’t exactly identify God as the reason he will win. His explanation vaguely hints at Tarot cards and tea leaves, but he’s just as convinced that a mighty wave of predetermination will carry him to his inevitable success on fight night. He claims that it is his seemingly miraculous recovery from an emphatic 12th-round knockdown by Wilder in their first meeting, on Dec. 1, 2018, in Los Angeles, that has cloaked him in virtual invincibility.

“I didn’t know I was knocked down,” he said of the second of the two times he was dropped by Wilder. “It wasn’t a flash knockdown, like in round nine. It was like a knockout. I watched it on tape. He hit me with a right hand and when I was on my way down he hit me with a left hook. It should have been bye-bye. I remember opening my eyes after around four seconds. I thought, `Get up!’ I just jumped up. And then Wilder rushes in and hits me with another massive left hook right on the temple. But it was like I was bullet-proof. It was a more damaging shot than the one that buried me. But it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t Wilder’s time (to win). It wasn’t my time to lose.

“I come from a long line of gypsies going back thousands of years. I’m the latest king of our tribe, our people, whatever you want to call them. I believe it’s written in the stars. I don’t believe all the hard work, all the dedication, have that much to do with it. You have to do that as well, but some things that have happened to me in my life now make me 100% believe it’s written in the stars.”

(One has to wonder how Fury’s public pronouncement that frequent cunnilingus has helped strengthen his jaw was received by his wife and mother of the couple’s five children, the most outrageous such comment since Livingstone Bramble bragged that, counter to standard boxing protocol, he engaged in sexual activity with his wife multiple times a night right up to the day of his bouts.)

For fight fans hesitant to buy into the notion, proffered by either principal, that a higher power has a vested interest in what takes place inside the ropes in this much-anticipated do-over, standard factors are likely to ultimately prove the difference. Can Wilder’s superior power get him home should he find the mark with that devastating right hand? Will Fury’s more polished boxing skills flummox his bigger-hitting foe all the way to the final bell and a nod on points? Or will Fury keep his word that he will take the fight straight to Wilder in the center of the ring, a radical shift in strategy possibly orchestrated by his new trainer, Javan “Sugar” Hill?

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Wilder – Fury Predictions & Analyses from the TSS Panel of Writers

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Whenever there is a big fight with a high level of intrigue, we survey members of our writing community to get their thoughts. In terms of pre-fight intrigue, Saturday’s rematch in Las Vegas between fellow unbeatens Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) ranks among the top heavyweight title fights of all time.

As is our usual custom, we are listing our panelists alphabetically. The graphic is by Colorado comic book cover artist ROB AYALA whose work has attracted a lot of buzz. Ayala’s specialty is combat sports. Check out more of his very cool work at his web site fight posium.

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI — In the first fight, my prediction was that Fury would easily out-box Wilder. I am sticking to my guns with the same prediction for the second fight. I know Fury is making a lot of noise about knocking out Wilder but I think this is more psychological than anything else. Fury will box cautiously behind the jab, pick his spots to counter and focus very carefully on his defense. He is not going to go for the knockout and will turn this into an even more tactical affair than the first fight. But he will be more successful this time and coast to a wide unanimous decision victory.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ — Fury is saying he’s going to meet Wilder in the center of the ring and take him out in two rounds. I’m guessing that’s a ruse, so I don’t put much stock in it. But even if the big Brit elects to outbox Wilder over 12 rounds, which he is capable of doing, that means he has to avoid getting clocked with a huge right hand for 12 rounds. Gotta go with the home run hitter here. Wilder by KO or stoppage in eight rounds.

JEFFREY FREEMAN — Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are equally charged with restoring much needed prestige to the heavyweight division in America. It’s a long slow slog. As a result, the powers caring about this have to be careful not to give away what they can sell. That’s why the first Wilder-Fury fight was called a draw. Neither fighter can afford a loss on their undefeated record and Bob Arum won’t be giving paying fans an actual result in exchange for their hard earned PPV dollars. Not yet anyway. So, it’s going to happen again! Wilder-Fury II ends in another draw but don’t worry, you can pay for the trilogy rubber-match “tie breaker” spectacular soon enough!

ARNE LANG – We performed this exercise before the first-Wilder Fury fight. No one was more bullish on Wilder than me. Properly chastened, I am going to pass the buck this time. Here are the observations of a long-time friend who resides on the Isle of Man and is known for having a sharp opinion: “Fury was cut badly in his last fight and will be very cautious, having tasted Wilder’s power. Training at Kronk isn’t the same without Manny Steward there. Fury has had multiple distractions and I don’t regard him as a world class puncher. DW has 36 minutes to land the one punch that will turn the tide.”

KELSEY McCARSON — Can you imagine what Deontay Wilder might feel on fight night? Across the ring from him will again be Tyson Fury, the same fighter who ate Wilder’s best punch and got back up on his feet. The only other time Wilder didn’t score a knockout was when he faced Bermane Stiverne in 2015. But Wilder broke his right hand in that fight, so he could explain that mystery away until he got the rematch with Stiverne two years later and ended up folding him in half in the first round like a lawn chair. But neither of Wilder’s hands were broken against Fury. Worse for the 34-year-old American is that Fury outboxed him for the majority of the fight. I like Fury to win the rematch by decision. Wilder will overcommit on his punches, and Fury will box his ears off for the clear victory.

MATT McGRAIN — Predicting a Tyson Fury fight is rather like predicting the weather. Even with all the pertinent information on hand it’s impossible to know exactly what will occur. Fury has been running less but reportedly sparring more; he has spoken openly of targeting 270lbs for the weigh-in; he has a new trainer who may or may not be motivating him; he has looked consistently bored and disinterested at more recent pressers; he has spoken openly of the crushing depression that envelopes him every Sunday. So, we might get an overweight, disinterested, under-motivated Fury on Saturday night. And he still might win. Put me down for Fury on points, but the right answer is, ‘nobody knows’.

SEAN NAM — Tyson Fury’s body may be as taut as its ever been, but his mind is in free-floating mode these days. Between hinting at an early retirement and opening up about certain sexual proclivities, Fury seems to have one foot perpetually out of the ring. In fact, ever since he linked up with Top Rank, it has been one big, gaudy publicity tour after another for the Manchester man. A stint with the WWE, the publication of his autobiography (as though his legacy in the ring had already been set in stone), and repeated desires to fight in an MMA crossover bout give the impression that Fury may not be as dialed-in for the most important fight of his life. Not to mention, Fury inexplicably canned his former trainer, Ben Davison. Meanwhile, Deontay Wilder, he of the thunderous right-hand fame, has been quiet as a church mouse. Wilder TKO9.

TED SARES –  An in-shape Fury schools Wilder in the early to mid rounds with focus and discipline, but then Wilder’s right connects and a stunned Fury backs off. Wilder then presses the action and KOs the giant in the next round – maybe the 9th or 10th – with a windmill shot (left or right) or a paralyzing straight ala Breazeale. We know Fury can go down. We know he can get up. But so also do Wilder and Mark Breland.

PHIL WOOLEVER – Wilder’s KO percentage gives him the coin-flip edge (Fury better remember what happened to Stiverne) but I have no clear idea what might happen where I see another draw just as likely as a decision either way. What intrigues me most are the over/under bet propositions listed around the 11th (take the under) and the possibility of this rematch joining a list of outrageous circumstances like the long count, ear bite or paraglider.

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