No Tyson, no Fury

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Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

He announced his retirement, then took it back just three hours later. He described himself as a manic-depressive and told Rolling Stone in a harrowing interview that he hopes someone would kill him before he kills himself.

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On two occasions, Briton Tyson Fury has called off his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, the fighter he stunned last November for the WBA-IBF-WBO heavyweight titles. The decision win over Klitschko shocked the world and from being just another British challenger Fury became the toast of the heavyweight division, boxing’s premier weight class. But fame has its price and Fury claims that his reign as champion has been more like a witch hunt than a bed of roses.

Truth be told, the heavyweight division is replete with stories of boxers who went bonkers after they won the heavyweight title. Everybody still remembers the bizarre behavior of American Oliver McCall, the “Atomic Bull” who came out of nowhere to knock out Lennox Lewis in 1994 for the WBC heavyweight crown. McCall enjoyed a brief reign, but fame consumed him in the long run. When he met Lewis in a rematch in 1997 for the vacant WBC title, McCall had a mental breakdown. He refused to fight in the fourth and fifth rounds and started crying in the middle of the ring. Referee Mills Lane, who could not believe what he was seeing, stopped the fight in the fifth stanza when McCall refused to fight. Months after the fight, McCall was detained in a mental institution.

Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champ in history in the 1980s but lost his way in the world of drugs and booze. On national TV, Tyson was described as a manic-depressive by his then wife Robin Givens. Tyson Fury got his name from “Iron Mike” and appears to be treading the same destructive path.

Even before he became a world champion, Fury’s behavior has bordered on the bizarre. In April 2013, just before he fought Steve Cunningham in his maiden appearance at New York’s Madison Square Garden, he shocked reporters when he told them that he would “hang” his own sister if she turned out to be promiscuous. That same year, he was also fined for describing two boxers as “gay lovers.”

The 28-year-old Fury remains undefeated with a record of 25-0 with 18 knockouts, but he may be moments away from knocking himself out. He is spiraling out of control; on a free-fall sans a parachute. As of this writing, the WBA is contemplating on stripping Fury of the title after the Briton disclosed “mental” issues and tested positive for cocaine.

It also remains unclear if Fury wants to fight again after he was quoted as saying that he hates boxing at the moment and wants nothing to do with it. The British boxing community is trying to reach out to the troubled heavyweight king, but it remains clear that if he fails to get a grip of himself, Fury may end up being another tragic story in pro boxing.

For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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