Jessica Margetson | Website Editor
It’s been a long two-year wait since this rivalry was first announced and with several cancellations and delays, fans were certainly rewarded for their patience.
The Paul-Fury fight has been derided by many but drew more interest than a title fight on the same bill. Both Fury and Paul have generated large online followings away from elite sport, establishing themselves as celebrities through reality TV and online influencing. Despite this, Paul-Fury appeared as the main event on a professional fight card in Saudi Arabia in what could reasonably be described as the most highly anticipated fight of 2023 so far. Describing Paul-Fury as one of the most anticipated fights of 2023 also goes deeper than simply highlighting the popular appeal of the two names fighting. It is a damning indictment of the professional boxing landscape, where fans are often left frustrated by the lack of genuine rivalries and big fights put on. It is a problem that continues to plague the sport in the elite ranks, as the biggest fighters and best pairings fail to come to fruition for various reasons.
Neither fighter was as polished as other pro boxers however this fight displayed the potential both have to succeed in their careers. They showed true passion and character in the ring.
Fury had incredible pressure coming from a boxing background, representing his family name, and battling the social media backlash. As dramatic and emotional as the fight was, the technique was a bit scruffy, illustrating their inexperience on the big stage.
TNT was floored by the former YouTube star in the eighth and final round but recovered to edge victory via split decision. Fury moved to 9-0 after the judges’ scorecards read out:
75-74 Paul, 76-73 Fury and 76-73 Fury
These scores declared the Brit victorious by split decision.
Paul meanwhile was handed his first defeat since stepping inside the ring but has already publicly declared he will invoke the rematch clause, stating.
“All respect to Tommy, I will come back, I think we deserve the rematch.”
Despite the pair certainly delivering a spectacle, many question if a rematch is needed.
An emotional TNT confirmed his interest in a rematch.
“This victory…it may as well be a world title. I’m here, I’m a real fighter.”
“Would I like to do it again? 100%”.
Tyson Fury was among supporters to have proclaimed their eagerness for a rematch.
“What a fight, great fight! I’d like to see it again; it was a brilliant fight. You never know what’s going to happen, it was absolutely amazing.”
Despite these comments, many have criticized the spectacle, believing that YouTubers and celebrities have been making a mockery of the sport. The huge interest in influencer boxing over the past few years is very real and represents a growing business in which promoters and fighters get involved.
One of the most surreal things about the fight in Saudi Arabia was not the sheer amount of interest from fans and celebrities (with the likes of Mike Tyson and Cristiano Ronaldo in attendance) but the fact that the Paul-Fury fight eclipsed a real-world title fight demonstrating the legitimization of their boxing careers.
The reality of the situation is that elite boxers need to do better at selling their business and serving as self-promoters, which includes building a larger fanbase online, in the same way that these influencers have.