The Zoom media call for Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte certainly put the spotlight on the event but for all the wrong reasons, writes George Gigney
EVER since it was officially announced, the Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte all-British heavyweight title showdown has been battling an avalanche of doubt and scepticism. Whyte, after signing the contract for the fight mere hours before the deadline, hadn’t said a word in public about his meeting with Fury this weekend at Wembley Stadium. He didn’t attend the press conference in London to officially announce the fight a few weeks ago.
Then there was the dispute between Frank Warren, who co-promotes Fury, and Whyte’s lawyer on a talkSPORT radio broadcast. They went back and forth over a number of seemingly small details in the contracts.
Some saw these as signs that the fight was doomed, that it would never happen. Well, this week, Whyte emerged from his self-imposed isolation and began to talk up the fight. It began with a tweet, the sight of which will have pleased many fans.
It was then announced that both Fury and Whyte would take part in a virtual media call over Zoom. Unfortunately, they were to be on separate calls, meaning we’d have to wait until fight week to see them in a head-to-head battle of words.
The main point of discussion after Fury’s call with the media was the lack of questioning about Daniel Kinahan, the alleged drug cartel leader who Fury claims has helped his boxing career.
The selected to ask questions did not fire any at Fury about Kinahan and there were reports that those who intended to bring up the topic were not given the chance. Whatever happened on the call, it’s unfortunate that a story with potentially huge ramifications on boxing was not explored.
This also raises questions about fight week – at the time of writing the official schedule hasn’t been released but it stands to reason that there’ll be a final press conference with both Fury and Whyte in attendance. It seems unlikely that the press in attendance, who had to apply for accreditation before the latest Kinahan developments broke, will be invited to ask questions.
This is a pretty common occurrence these days and allows promoters and broadcasters to keep the focus on the fight itself rather than any other topics or stories that may have arisen. However, it is typically given access to each main event fighter during a fight week, usually in the form of a scrum for big events like this one.
Will questions about Kinahan’s involvement in boxing – more specifically Fury’s career – be allowed? If so, would they even be answered? We’ll have to wait and see.
Aside from all this, Fury appears to be in good spirits and he too has kept himself somewhat locked away, leaving his team to run his social media accounts while he’s been in camp.
And Whyte looks bang up for this one. We’ve not yet been given a proper look at him but he appears to be in terrific shape. More importantly, his mind is in the right place. On his media call, he made it clear he’s not just here to make up the numbers and also rightly pointed out that “this isn’t the Tyson Fury show.” Fury would not have sold 94,000 tickets against a no-name opponent; Whyte’s contribution to the size of this fight should be respected.
Whyte also sat down with BN columnist Steve Bounce for a one-on-one interview. Whyte picked holes in some of the things Fury has said in the build-up and clearly takes umbrage with some of it, but this hasn’t spilled over into outright anger. That is a good sign.
He spoke about the importance of this fight not just for his career but for his life as a whole – Bounce asks him if he could have envisioned himself in this position 15 or so years ago and Whyte candidly admitted that, back then, he didn’ t think he’d survive past the age of 20.
It’s a reminder that he’s lived a hard, hard life. That can mean a lot in fights like this.
Though, for a few weeks, there was little to no promotion for this fight – which felt odd, given how big it is – but now BT Sport has ramped up its coverage.
Aside from the Whyte interview, we’ve also had a fight breakdown with Richie Woodhall, Joseph Parker (who’s fought Whyte and trains with Fury) and Mark Tibbs (the former trainer of Whyte).
These sorts of shows can sometimes fall flat but this one works particularly well. Woodhall does a great job of steering the focus and delving into how the fight may pan out. Parker provides some insight into Fury himself, though there’s the added wrinkle that he may be throwing out red herrings, given his close relationship with Tyson. It only makes things more interesting.
BT then held a panel discussion with Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno, Carl Frampton and David Haye. Those names alone make it worth a watch but there’s some erudite conversation about the fight here.
Gervonta Davis may soon become one of the hottest properties in boxing. Already a star, the unbeaten American is reportedly set to part ways with Mayweather promotions. That has had the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Eddie Hearn publicly state their interest in signing Davis to a promotional deal.
You’d struggle to find a promoter or broadcaster who wouldn’t want to work with Davis, such is his potential as a crossover star. As things stand, you’d have to peg Hearn as one of the favorites to sign him given the financial backing he can get from DAZN.
That being said, Top Rank recently landed a deal with Devin Haney and remain the most well established outfit in the sport. Davis has some important decisions to make.
Boxing on the box
John Riel Casimiro-Paul Butler
Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte
BT Sport Box Office
Coverage begins at 6pm