The shadows are generally reserved for the quieter figures in any given narrative. Dark, gloomy and hidden; they preserve secrets and retain a sense of underlying mystery. It’s unusual, then, that one of the greatest kickboxers in history finds himself trapped in boxing’s blindspot.
Surinamese heavyweight Tyrone Spong (11-0, 11 KO’s) had clawed his way into the world rankings, cementing himself at number ten with the WBO. He fights again this Friday, looking to continue his hot streak of 100% knockouts as he hunts down a mandatory position.
He spoke exclusively to Boxing Social about his plan for heavyweight domination.
Keen to continue his journey ‘the hard way’, you’d be forgiven for confusing him with just-another-heavyweight. His extensive résumé in combat sports has been vastly overlooked, as has his mass appeal and loyal fanbase.
I’d struck up a relationship with Tyrone, based in Miami, when following his progress earlier this year. On discussing his upcoming fight, he touched on his thoughts surrounding exposure in an altogether-different sport,
“I’m not too dangerous [for these guys], I just think a lot of the promoters are short-sighted. They don’t look into any other fighters. I know for a fact, with my fanbase, it’s a done-deal. He’s gonna want to work with me – I know that for a fact.
“I’m the guy with the knockout in my hands, you know? With my rich history in martial arts. It’s a no-brainer for any promoter who thinks about how they can promote or market me. And the fact that I never took an easy way. I took the hard route into boxing. I deserve it, because I didn’t take an easy way by being a loudmouth and promoting myself.”
Across the three main social media platforms, Tyrone Spong has amassed over two-hundred-thousand followers – an incredible figure. Only a few years ago, he was selling out massive arenas, being flown to events on private jets and bouncing from five-star complexes in exotic nations. He’s no small fish.
“As soon as one of these promoters looks into me; my appearance, my personality, my performances – it’s a done-deal. I’m not worried about that, at all. I don’t care who I fight or where I fight. As long as they pay me, I’ll fight!”
The stocky lad from Surinam had risen from contentious beginnings in Amsterdam, causing trouble in the tougher suburbs. We laughed during a previous conversation as he explained his Mother’s hopes for him. She asked; would he quit fighting if she won the lottery tomorrow? He told her, ‘No, I’d be a better fighter, with no worries!’.
On Friday’s show, Spong is one of two main attractions as he tops the bill in Miami. He’s been training with Pedro Diaz, working on the finer aspects of the Sweet Science. In only his second outing of the year, he’s left no stone unturned as he launches an assault on the division’s biggest names.
“I feel even better now. I’ve been able to have some legit sparring partners, such as Luis Ortiz and Lenroy Thomas. I’ve been getting some quality work and I feel good right now. Training camp with Pedro, my coach, when he prepares you for a fight it’s all or nothing! We work to win.
“Man, you said it yourself – I’m always about the knockouts. Always. Sometimes it comes quick, sometimes it comes late, I’m all about that. I wanna put on exciting fights for the people and give them something to talk about. I wanna get excitement about a new kid that’s on the block, a new player. I’m serious, that’s what I’m all about!”
A fighter through-and-through, he had struggled with the sport’s inconsistencies. Opponents pulling out, declining fights and avoiding tests? Tyrone wasn’t used to that. In kickboxing or in MMA, a loss is often disregarded. Very, very few fighters are undefeated, with generally only one governing body making fights, and only one belt on the line.
His opponent for this weekend’s fight had pulled out, citing an injury as his reason for withdrawal. Now facing a Colombian with a 28-5 record, I was struck by his relaxed nature. I could almost feel him shrug his shoulders as he opened up on the late-replacement.
“This is the fight game, you know? If you don’t have the mega-fights locked in, then you can expect these things in boxing. Sometimes it might be serious injuries that occur in hard training. Other times, it’s guys just trying to protect their record. My mindset, as always, is just, ‘do what you do, focus on yourself.’
“I don’t wanna be thrown off, I expect it and I don’t really care who I face. Just look at the other day, a fighter walked out of the ring! It was crazy! So, whatever you do, just focus on yourself and make sure you’re ready. Do the best you can.”
Whilst his opponent seems no match on paper, the former K1 and GLORY superstar can only beat the men put in-front of him. The quality of opposition must improve, he knows that. For now, however, it’s business as usual.
As he attempts to scale the division’s heavy-handed heights, I was keen to gauge his thoughts on the two biggest fights at its precipice.
Anthony Joshua was someone Spong had expressed an interest in fighting, in a stadium either in the UK or in Holland. On the Watford man’s impending fight with Povetkin, Tyrone commented, “It’s so hard, I don’t think that’s an easy fight, at all. I think a lot of people underestimate Povetkin, but he’s a really tough guy. His record speaks for itself and I do think that AJ should be able to win, but I don’t see it happening easily.”
With the only other world title held a little closer to the Surinamese icon’s base, the recently-mooted Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury contest had been turning heads. “You know, they’re both two, undefeated fighters. Both tall, both awkward fighters. It’s a pick-em’ fight. We all know if Deontay lands it’s goodbye, night-night. Or will Tyson Fury outwork him? First thing’s first, I still gotta see that fight being made, with a date set-in-stone, so we can be sure it’s happening!”
Whatever happens, the heavyweight division finds itself at an exciting juncture. The introduction of DAZN had allowed for extra cards and extensive coverage. Eddie Hearn and Matchroom USA had set up shop, signing various fighters in recent weeks.
Would it only be a matter of time for Tyrone Spong? Or would this ship pass him by?
“As soon as one of these big promoters sniffs out who I am, I’m sure they will try and contact my team and work a good deal out.”
Article by: Craig Scott
Follow Craig on Twitter at: @craigscott209