Boxing used to be part of the national conversation – not anymore

BY Allan Massie   /  30 November 2019

Deontay Wilder may be billed as the most frightening heavyweight champion since the young Mike Tyson who was the most frightening since George Foreman who was the most frightening since Sonny Liston. Wilder probably deserves the billing. He has had forty-two fights and won forty-one of them, and he never needs the judges’ scorecards to say he has won. His opponents don’t stay on their feet till the final bell tolls. He can win with a single punch as he did last week against Luis Ortiz. The judges had Ortiz ahead, but in the sixth round Wilder landed the big one, and that was that. Yes, he’s frightening.

Nevertheless, being frightening doesn’t make you invincible. Mike Tyson went to Japan and got beaten by Buster Douglas who wasn’t considered to have a chance against the fearsome one. We all know what happened to George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle, though before the fight some were afraid that he might kill Muhammad Ali. As for Liston, after his two first-round knock-outs of Floyd Paterson, many thought the pretty boy Cassius Clay (as Muhammad then was) crazy even to get into the ring with the monster, and indeed at the weigh-in Cassius acted as if he was indeed crazy. Nevertheless he won and wouldn’t be defeated till the authorities stripped him of his title when he refused to be drafted into the American Army. (“I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong.”)


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