Unlike the last notable heavyweight bout that featured one of the biggest names in the division, the no-name actually succumbed to the blows of the main event’s star attraction on Saturday when Tyson Fury took down Tom Schwarz by TKO in the second round.
It was the performance of an excellent fighter who’s shown legitimate desire and ability to compete for some real concrete hardware. Fury continued the showman routine from his pre-fight media tour with the stars and stripes design for his shorts and robe as he walked to the ring with James Brown’s “Living in America” from Rocky IV playing as his entrance music. He even gave the crowd something to marvel at with some incredible evasion skills he pulled out right before putting an end to Schwarz’s night.
Here’s another closer look at Fury toying Schwartz on the ropes:
The rest of the evening was pretty unremarkable and while even Fury somewhat relaxed his showmanship for a bit afterwards, save for the brief period where he decided to cover Aerosmith on the mic, ESPN’s marketing push of making this appear to be a legitimate title fight nevertheless persisted.
References to Fury’s retention of this imaginary title continued through the late-evening edition of SportsCenter, fight recaps and will likely keep going on whatever outlets the network decides to use until immediate interest in Fury’s victory fades away.
For context, Fury once held the WBA (unified), WBO, and IBO world heavyweight titles, but vacated them in 2016 amid a doping investigation, and being deemed medically unfit to fight by a psychologist. Though Fury has held no official titles since that relinquishment, no fighter has beaten him in the ring since he’s won those titles either. If the idea of presenting Fury as a champion because of the latter point seems gimmicky, it’s because it is.
It wouldn’t be a problem if only Fury and his team decided to take it upon themselves to push this notion that nobody is a true champion until they beat him—which, for the record, they have been doing since his comeback—but that’s mostly because that kind of trash talk fits in naturally with Fury’s persona and adds the pro-wrestling flare that fighting sports need from time to time. The bigger issue is a sports media network deciding to run with this gimmick, and actually flat-out declaring him a champion in the process. Being a lineal champion doesn’t actually mean anything to anyone except for maybe Deontay Wilder’s trainers who could use it as bulletin board material. To legitimize it as an actual championship in pieces of journalism is corny at best, and pretty damn sketchy at worst.
As if that’s not bad enough, take into account that ESPN went through all of this effort to prop up this fake championship nonsense for a hardcore homophobe who believes the identity of at least one employee—though it’s realistically more than that—is proof that the world is approaching the biblical end of days.
It’s almost laudable how a network that’s been so focused on keeping politics out of sports has decided that the best way to achieve that goal is to make a large, loud-mouthed bigot their boxing champion.