THE BS is flowing thick and fast as the heavyweights talk up the millions on offer for “The Fight of the Century”. PETER COSTER reports:
DOWN IN ‘Ole Bamy, things haven’t changed all that much. Tuscaloosa cops rapped on the window of Deontay Wilder’s Cadillac because the windows were too black.
Wilder, the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, wound down the window whereupon the sweet smell of marijuana wafted out.
Wilder, who is to fight Anthony Joshua, who holds three other versions of the world heavyweight championship and another at super-heavyweight, was duly busted.
The two-metre tall Wilder, who is more brown than black and refers to himself as the Bronze Bomber, was fined and given 120 hours of community service.
His defence was the usual one: the marijuana wasn’t his and must have been left there by another brother using the Caddy while he was to Atlanta in one of his other cars, a Rolls-Royce.
Wilder maintains a fleet of cars and was sitting in a supermarket carpark when he was approached by the cops.
“Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you.”
As the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd sang (the band named itself after their basketball coach) ‘Ole Bamy sticks to you.
Wilder is undefeated after stopping the Cuban heavyweight, Luis Ortiz, also undefeated until he met Wilder.
The Bronze Bomber, also known as the Real King Kong, looked about to hit the canvas himself when Ortiz, nailed him in the seventh in their bout in March.
A previous meeting had to be cancelled when Ortiz ran foul of drug laws of the performance-enhancing kind.
At the start of the eighth, Wilder’s corner called for a time-out to inspect damage to their fighter’s face.
There was none, but as with Angelo Dundee’s decision to cut Muhammad Ali’s laces after the then Cassius Clay was hit by ‘Enry’s Hammer in the fight against British heavyweight Henry Cooper, it gained Wilder another 20 seconds.
Wilder proved he can cop it on the chin and returned the favor when he stopped Ortiz in the 10th.
Ortiz said he thought he had Wilder on the way in the seventh. “I almost had him and I think I would have if there were a few more seconds in the round.”
If your aunty had balls she’d be your uncle is one of sport’s crudities but nevertheless rings true.
The round ends when the bell sounds, not a few seconds later.
The Ortiz fight was a risk for Wilder where a defeat would have ruined his chances of a fight with Anthony Joshua.
Like Wilder, Joshua survived a knockdown in a bout against former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko was 42 and decided to retire whereas the lure of a multi-million purse has tempted other fighters, such as Tyson Fury, to come out of retirement in the hope of a fight against Joshua.
The British heavyweight has improved his credentials, as if that were needed, against former undefeated World Boxing Organisation heavyweight champion Michael Parker.
Parker, known as the King of Pies, forwent his usual daily intake and entered the ring in fighting trim.
Joshua was also at his lightest for the fight but is likely to be considerably heavier than Deontay Wilder when they meet this year.
Money talks and bullshit walks and there is a great deal of both these commodities in the lead-up to what deserves to be billed as the fight of the century.
This century when you consider the contests between Muhammad Ali and Smokin’ Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in Zaire and the Thrilla in Manila, all in the 1970s.
The money is always the first consideration and this is a multi-million payday for Joshua and Wilder, who has shown as much showmanship as his performances in the ring by offering Joshua US$50 million to put his belts on the line.
Silver-tongued Wilder money-man Lou DiBella says the Bronze Bomber’s camp is taking all of the risk.
“If the fight does $40 million”, says DiBella, Joshua still gets $50 million. If it does $200 million, he gets $100 million. It’s $50 million guaranteed.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says it’s a great PR move, which is where the bullshit comes in.
Wilder sent his offer on Instagram, but with a time limit of 24 hours.
That has passed and Wilder’s managers, who were to meet Hearn in New York, cancelled the meeting and returned south of the old Mason-Dixon line to get fresh instructions.
There is all kind of wild, read Wilder, talk of a $200 million payday, but that will depend on where the fight takes place.
Some 80,000 screaming fight fans crowded the stadium in Cardiff for the Joshua v Parker bout and more will pay whatever it takes to get through the turnstiles if the fight is shifted to Wembley in London.
Wembley could accommodate 100,000 if seats are put on the soccer pitch.
Then there is Las Vegas. Only about 20,000 can be squeezed into the T-Mobile Arena, but it’s what the high-rollers and television are prepared to pay that will decide the venue.
This correspondent was ringside in the Caesar’s Palace carpark for the world middleweight championship in 1985 when the crap, as president Trump so often refers to the bullshit, was spread thick on the ground.
Former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta, the Raging Bull of the Robert De Niro movie, was married before the fight as a publicity stunt.
It was a promoter’s wet dream with Leon Spinks, who was robbed of his wallet and his gold front teeth after he had defeated Muhammad Ali in boxing’s greatest upset, talking to anyone who would listen.
There were gaps where most of his other teeth had been knocked out and I hope they gave him more than a ticket and a chance to eat the rubber chicken as LaMotta took his vows while the tourists who played the slot machines ignored the hoopla outside.
Author: Peter Coster
PETER COSTER is a former editor and foreign correspondent who has covered a range of international sports, including world championship fights and the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.