BOXING makes another attempt at getting it’s heavyweight house in order when the long-awaited rematch between Britain’s Tyson Fury and America’s Deontay Wilder takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, February 22nd, the first clash between the pair having ended in a controversial draw 15 months ago – a result that most experts believe was a travesty as Manchester’s King of the Gypsies had comfortably outboxed and spanked the Yank for ten of the 12-round contest, unfortunately hitting the deck in each of the other two, the knockdowns giving the judges the green light to deny the Brit the outright victory that was rightfully his.
The obligatory pre-fight trash talk so beloved by fight promoters in the build-up to major showdowns has this time plunged to new depths as frenzied attempts are made to stoke up the heat of expectation to volcanic level and stampede the populace into parting with thousands of pounds sterling and Uncle Sam dollars as fans from both nations throng to travel in support of their favourite pugilist son. Tyson Fury, in particular, has been wildly and embarrassingly outspoken at recent press conferences, the 31 year-old, 6ft 9ins Mancunian giant making lewd reference as to how important he considers it to keep his testosterone levels ‘pumped’ in the build-up to the fight, a feat he said he achieves by ‘masturbating seven times a day’. Oh dear, how far removed is this gross disclosure when comparison is made to the poetic Muhammad Ali, the Bard of the Ring and the greatest boxer of all time, who enchanted us all with his magical self-descriptive pre-fight preparation line of ‘Float Like A Butterfly And Sting Like A Bee’. The undefeated Fury also spoke of a recurring dream he experiences in which he puts Wilder to sleep in the second round – a forecast scoffed at by the abrasive American whose laughing response was, ‘that’s impossible, his fists are like pillows, I’ll retire immediately if that happens.’
The tough Alabaman, 34, also has yet to taste defeat, with all of his 41 victories coming by way of KO, many of the knockouts spectacular, but now is the time for the Brit to right the wrong of that first fight split decision. It’s time to call a halt to the joking, trash talk and gimmicks, the Bronze Bomber will not be put to sleep in the second round, forget that, the fight will almost certainly go the distance, so this time Gypsy King, don’t give the judges the chance to do the dirty once more, wear a tongue-tie, keep the lip buttoned and the jaw far away from Wilder’s right-hand haymakers. Oh… and it might be a good idea to conserve your energy and wear the boxing gloves to bed for at least the week before the fight! Let’s get ready to rumble!
Tickets for the fight range in price from an astonishing tad under $10k for a ringside blood-spatter seat down to $600 for a binocular-required perch in the roof.
TV Coverage – PPV: BT Sport Box Office – (Price to be announced, but expect to pay no less than 25 quid) Thanks be I live in resourceful Gibraltar!
February is dominated by the return of rugby’s Six Nations Championship when Europe’s top teams go head to head, all chastened by their collective failure to break the stranglehold of southern hemisphere domination of the World Cup, deservedly won by South Africa after a truly wonderful tournament in apan last autumn. Disappointment for beaten finalists England and failed semi-finalists Wales, catastrophic for once highly regarded Ireland, sad reality check for Scotland and, perhaps, a glimmer of encouragement for France, who are due to host the next Webb Ellis Trophy in 2023.
Come with me for a team by team glance at how this Six Nations tournament may unfold.
No-hopers SCOTLAND and ITALY have been and will continue to be inextricably joined at the bottom, success for the Scots will be once again consist of avoiding the award of the Wooden Spoon, and Italy’s role will be to ensure that the Jocks never finish bottom of the basement.
Defending Grand Slam champions WALES, narrowly defeated by the Springboks in the World Cup semis in Japan, can never be accused of suffering from an inferiority complex and will fancy their chances of retaining the championship, but talismanic coach Warren Gatland has departed, his one-time assistant and heir-apparent Rob Howley has been suspended following a betting scandal, and arduous away fixtures in Dublin and London may prove to be too tough a challenge for new coach, Kiwi Wayne Pivac.
An exciting month in prospect illuminated by the return of Six Nations rugby, plus the eagerly anticipated heavyweight boxing rematch between England’s fiery Tyson Fury and America’s Deontay Wilder – let’s take a look at how these two mega events may pan out.
IRELAND have also bade farewell to their most successful-ever mentor Joe Schmidt, handing what many commentators believe to be the poison chalice of coach to an ageing side already in decline to Englishman Andy Farrell, whose first two games are winnable home fixtures against Scotland and Wales, but later baptism of fire visits to Fortress Twickenham and Paris await – a gentle introduction for Andy but, alas, it will all end in tears.
ENGLAND produced what I and many other rugby pundits believe to be the greatest ever display by a Red Rose side in the World Cup semi-final demolition of the All Blacks, only to then not turn up against the Springboks in the final. What a disappointment, I still shudder at the memory as I had spent the preceding six months backing Eddie Jones’ Boys at big prices, from 7/1 down to 7/2 to win the Cup – my ‘winnings’ had already been counted and mentally spent – the horror will never leave me! So then, unsurprisingly, I baulk at backing the Men in White this time round at their ridiculously skinny odds-on price to win the championship, especially given the mounting injury list that has crocked stars like Henry Slade, Billy Vunipola and Jack Rowell, not to mention the relegation chaos currently reigning at top Premiership club Saracens, where seven members of the England squad are housed, including captain Owen Farrell. Instead, by a simple process of elimination, FRANCE are my selection to win the 2020 Six Nations Championship, and I have lumbered Les Bleus with my tenner at odds of 7/1.
Vive La France!
TV Coverage – All Games Shared by BBC and ITV