DeMarcus Corley, the old grifter, dances into another Diggstown

The guy got hurt. It happens. It happens to fighters. I thought you knew that.

James Woods, as Gabriel Caine, in Diggstown.

In the 1992 picture, Diggstown, or Midnight Sting for those on this side of the pond, Lou Gossett Jnr. plays ‘Honey’ Roy Palmer. A long retired prizefighter for whom fame never called. Subjected to the persuasive patter of con-man Gabriel Caine, Palmer finds himself in the titular town with 10 opponents lined up to face him in a 24 hour period. The prospects of triumph seem distant and the consequences of defeat, and the lost bet for Caine, catastrophic given the Mafia origins of the money Caine has wagered on the outcome.

‘Honey’ Roy, like DeMarcus Corley, who boxes again this weekend two years on from the last of a long sequence of defeats, had retained a fighter’s physique and the wiles of a well-schooled pug, but he was, nevertheless, 47 years old.

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Whyte goes all in for Fury chance

The higher I go, the crookeder it becomes.

Michael Corleone, Godfather III (1990)

Dillian Whyte is a good heavyweight. He isn’t Earnie Shavers, or Ray Mercer. He is, as the Acorn and Merciless were, a good heavyweight in an era that belongs to others. Whyte has compiled a resume that stands comparison with most of his own contemporaries. And a few of his predecessors too. His era isn’t the golden one of Shavers and his thunderous right hand but it has the potential to rival or surpass many of the decades that preceded the glorious 1970s. Besides, no fighter chooses his or her own time.

However history will remember Fury, Joshua and Wilder’s era, their collective defeats and the emergence of Usyk is unlikely to remove any of their names from above the door of the decade they’ve cohabited but Whyte has been a perennial presence. The demise of his showdown with Otto Wallin, a credible if unexciting fixture, became ever more predictable following Joshua’s decision to opt in on the contracted Usyk rematch and the WBC mandating a victorious Fury negotiate with the winner of Whyte and Wallin.

The risk to reward ratio of the Wallin fight changed. Dramatically.

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Old money and the roads to Fury

A champion is someone who gets up even when he can’t.

Jack Dempsey

Rude. The only way to describe the health of the heavyweight division. It has a singular and consensus champion. Tyson Fury. One fresh from an enthralling rumble with the sport’s biggest puncher. Subsequently, his WBC mandatory challenger, and therefore his most likely next opponent, will be Dillian Whyte, a fighter in every fan’s top 6 or 7, if he beats Otto Wallin, who cut and bothered Fury when they met a year ago.

Beyond Fury’s immediate challenge, contenders Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua will reconvene in the Spring to determine the most worthy to contest all of the available belts, for whatever merit resides in the custody of all four. And alongside that quartet, exist a parade of potential challengers with varied styles, stories and skill.

Boxing has its heavyweight champion. A charismatic one. Unconventional. Gigantic. Everyone else, merely contenders. In old money at least. The hope now, in this brave new-old world, is that the Champion stays busy.

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Furious and wild. Tyson and Deontay carve a place in heavyweight history

The King of Las Vegas. The King of the Heavyweight division and the conquerer of demons seen and unseen, Tyson Fury finally convinced someone, anyone, to stop Deontay Wilder from trying in the 11th round. It was an astonishing battle between two men with a depth of resolve that cannot be taught, nor bought by the millions they’ve already accumulated.

Fury climbed from the canvas twice in the fourth, to eventually overwhelm and knockout Deontay Wilder following 11 of the most furious and wild rounds the division has seen in decades. They do not have the equivalence of Ali and Frazier or the technical brilliance of Bowe and Holyfield, but Fury and Wilder have provided entertainment and drama to match those illustrious predecessors.

There will be no fourth. But thank goodness for the contractual obligation that insisted on a third.

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Cheeseman and the deal with the devil

Every fighter has a relationship with sacrifice. Offering something of their unseen tomorrow for the conspicuous glory of today. As a witness to the transaction, boxing fans marvel at the willingness of those inside the ring who make the exchange for our entertainment. Light-Middleweight Ted Cheeseman, who succumbed to the fists of the Troy Williamson and relinquished his British title last night, is a man that embraces this truth.

Not for the first time, the courageous former champion departed from the stage a little less than he’d entered it. The crowd and the audience at home staggered by the action Cheeseman and Williamson had provided in 10 gruelling rounds of thudding combat.

Cheeseman’s tumultuous encounter with Williamson evoked memories of those in whose footsteps they trod, Jamie Moore and Matt Macklin most prominent among them, and proved a fitting prelude to the night’s main attraction over in Las Vegas, where a fellow brother in arms willingly gave a piece of his future self in the pursuit of his own glory.

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Former British champion, David Price hangs them up

Imagine being the British Champion. The British Heavyweight champion at that. A Lonsdale belt draped over a shoulder, shimmering beneath the ring lights. A century of history on which to stand. David Price, the Liverpudlian giant, has stood and felt those sensations, held that famous belt as his own.

And he did so, in his hometown.

Only a few men have ever shared that feeling; Iron Hague, Tommy Farr, Woodcock, Cooper, Bugner and Lennox Lewis perhaps most famous among them. Frank Bruno never did. Price won the title, aged 29, by beating Sam Sexton in 2012. He defended the crown twice, beating Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, before relinquishing the belt in late 2013 to pursue higher honours.

Those honours never did quite materialise for the self styled ‘big horrible heavyweight’. Momentum was lost on the alter of circumstance. Poor management, bad luck, injuries and the reality of a knockout defeat or two, which can happen when you’re boxing world level big men, or mediocre big men juiced to the brim for that matter, all contrived to deny him the breakthrough he so desperately craved.

He announced his retirement this week. Sanguine about his frustrations but characteristically honest about his reasons for choosing not to box on.

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Fury, Wilder and the third act

“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.”

Truman Capote, Novelist (1924-1984)

Trilogies, in an era when the first fight is all too often hard to make, are a rare spectacle. Particularly among heavyweights. The third of the series is typically only required to settle the argument as to who is the better fighter following shared outcomes in the opening bouts. Ali v Frazier, Bowe v Holyfield the most famous examples in the modern age, if the 1970s and 1990s still count as the modern age. Both pairings were notable for the equality of the protagonists and for the career best performances drawn from all four.

As the days and hours tick down to the third fight between Fury and Wilder, there should be, given this scarcity, the iconic nature of those illustrious predecessors and the tumultuous events of the first two encounters, more enthusiasm for the fixture than there is. Remarkably, considering the dramatics of those two fights, the mandate behind their third meeting is not driven by the appetite of fans or the quest for resolution as to who is the superior fighter, it is compelled only by contractual obligation and the stubbornness of Deontay Wilder.

Fury v Wilder III, until last week merely an irritating obstacle to greater prizes, is now upon us. As boxing’s various troubadours, fixers and mystics descend on Las Vegas, the memory of Joshua’s dethronement as fresh in their minds as the jet lag and neon lights will permit, the fight in prospect has become entirely more intriguing.

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Posturing, greed and the loss of Fury v Joshua

By Hector T. Morgan

Anthony Joshua’s humbling defeat to Oleksandr Usyk didn’t steal a unification bout from him, or his contemporary, Tyson Fury despite the persuasive narrative that it did. Boxing’s usual follies and the greed of one or both parties deprived the fans of the most enticing fight available several months ago. The two protagonists will one day look back wistfully to the moment, or moments, when they allowed the fight to slip away in the pursuit of an ever larger purse they will never have time to spend. Hipsters will point to the overdue Welterweight pairing of Errol Spence and Terence Crawford as the bout boxing actually needs the most, and there is merit in the argument, but heavyweights remain the premier attraction and the measure by which most eras are judged.

A fact that informs the greed that enveloped the potential fixture and permitted the contracted trilogy bout between Fury and Wilder to encroach and supersede the richest fight boxing could make.

And though fans may one day witness the two face each other, it will forever be diminished by the passage of time and the two defeats Joshua has now collected.

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