Sometimes, one gets a visceral feeling that a scheduled big fight won’t take place as advertised. A case in point is the twice postponed but perhaps not so long-awaited rematch between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko.
When Fury withdrew from the original July 9 date, citing an ankle injury incurred while doing roadwork, rumours abounded concerning his instability of mind and a lifestyle quite at variance with his lofty status as Heavyweight Champion of the World. Although the injury was substantiated with a photograph on Twitter, there were counter claims that Fury had incapacitated himself while trying to jump over a barrier at a house and techno rave in Anglesey.
Certainly, the champion was seen a couple of days later in France buying shots of Jaegermeister for hordes of revelling English football fans during the Euro 2016 festivities.
To be entirely fair to him, you don’t need two good ankles to buy one hundred odd people a drink. A healthy degree of largesse will suffice.
When the news broke last Saturday that the rematch wouldn’t be taking place on October 22 at the Manchester Arena because Tyson was ‘medically unfit’ to compete, but with no physical ailment specified, many observers quickly suggested that we should read ‘mentally unfit’
I was sceptical before watching the IFLTV Interview with Tyson’s uncle and trainer, Peter , as he duly confirmed that this nephew was not in the best of places, psychologically.
“It’s the lack of respect on a global scale (that upsets Tyson.) He did injure his ankle, he was having a good camp but after that he kept saying, “I’m gonna’ do it but I’m losing interest in this game.” Since then we’ve had various issues with him, snapping a lot. He’s been coming in the gym and his mind is elsewhere.
I think the witch hunt, the recent allegations and everything else has just put him over the edge.
Amidst the turmoil, Eddie Hearn was quick to throw IBF champion, Anthony Joshua’s name in to the mix for a potential showdown with the Ukrainian former supremo while hastening to opine that Fury will inevitably be stripped of the WBA and WBO belts and will likely never fight again.
Despite copious rumours online today that Joshua – Klitshcko is actually a done deal for November 26, Hearn admitted via a post on Facebook that this is not the case as yet.
Unsurprisingly, Peter Fury responded to the promoter’s seemingly glib remarks with a degree of contempt and due sarcasm,
‘Eddie is now a promoter, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist all rolled into one.
And now a team Fury member as he knows Tyson so well.’
Nonetheless, the uncle of the man who remains the legitimate holder of the Richest Prize in Sport is confident that he will return in 2017, regardless of decisions or sanctions beyond his control.
‘It certainly won’t be this year, it will probably be early next year. He will be back.’
Clearly, the dust needs to settle before the way forward in the currently convoluted heavyweight title picture becomes clear but if there is one thing that this episode has highlighted then it is the level of general ignorance and lack of empathy towards sufferers of depression and other forms of mental illness.
I am aware of far too many casual commentators demanding, ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World and a millionaire..!
What’s he got to be depressed about…?’
I ought to stress that I am neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist or anything similar but I don’t have a hard time appreciating that clinical depression can be a terrible, debilitating illness and is indiscriminate in choosing its victims.
A feted millionaire can fall prey to what some call the ‘silent killer’ as plausibly as a derelict on the street.
To speculate on the precise nature of Fury’s condition would be jumping the gun at this stage but I’m sure the boxing fraternity en mass will join me in wishing him all the very best regardless of what the future holds for him inside the squared circle.