Wilder, Pulev won't be bullied into stepping aside for Fury-Joshua unification fight

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
A weekly look at boxing’s hottest topics.

Why Wilder, Pulev shouldn’t step aside

Imagine for a moment that you are a salesperson and you’ve been one of the most successful in the company.

You have had a string of successful quarters and many of your supervisors point to your work as an example when instructing others.

There is a promotion available that you’ve had your eye on for a while. It pays considerably more, has better benefits and will make the best use of your talents. It seems a natural, even though the only downside is that your most recent quarter was a poor one.

Still, you expect to get the promotion, and are shocked when you hear chatter in the company that people expect you to give it up and allow the longest-tenured salesperson in the group to take that job. 

You could say, “No, I’ve earned this with my stellar work over the previous years, despite my most recent down quarter, and I’m going to insist I get this promotion.” Or, you could be magnanimous, swallow your pride and let your less-qualified colleague take the promotion.

What would you do?

That, of course, is why there is little reason to expect either Deontay Wilder or Kubrat Pulev to be bullied into stepping aside to see Tyson Fury face Anthony Joshua for the undisputed heavyweight championship.

Of course, I’d rather see Fury-Joshua rather than Wilder-Fury 3 or Joshua-Pulev, as would most fans. But that’s not what this is about.

Wilder earned his shot at a third bout with Fury with a stellar career prior to his last bout with Fury. He performed poorly in that fight and was stopped in the seventh round, but it doesn’t diminish what he’d done in his previous 43 bouts, when he won 42 with 41 knockouts and a draw.

Pulev hasn’t been as successful as Wilder, but he won the fights he needed to win to put himself into position to fight for Joshua’s IBF belt.

What is in it for them to step aside? Boxing is one of those sports where it’s way too risky to surrender a title fight. Even though Wilder could use more time to physically recover from the loss to Fury, he has to take it because he can’t be sure he’ll ever get one again because that’s how boxing rolls.

If you doubt that, you’re missing the obvious: Wilder has a signed contract and they’re trying to find a way out of it. If he or Pulev takes step-aside money, the odds that they fight for the title next decrease significantly no matter what is written on that paper they sign.

As much as I’d rather see Fury-Joshua for all the marbles, it’s impossible to see how stepping aside makes sense for either Wilder or Fury.

Don’t call it a comeback for Mike Tyson

A video of former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson hitting the mitts — and looking good doing it — made the rounds on the internet and got the masses excited about a possible Tyson return.

There are those who even think the 53-year-old Tyson could regain the heavyweight championship that he last held in 1996.

As great of a story as it would be if he were to do it, forget about it. It’s not happening.

Tyson hasn’t fought since June 11, 2005, or almost 15 years ago, when he was stopped by Kevin McBride. 

George Foreman retired two months past his 28th birthday in 1977 after a loss to Jimmy Young. He was out of the game for a decade, returning on March 9, 1987, when he was 38. It took Foreman more than seven years to regain the title.

So Tyson now is 15 years older than Foreman was at the start of his comeback, and if he took the same seven years, he’d be 60 years old when he got to the title. That would be 2027, if you’re wondering, and a full 31 years after he last held the belt.

Uh, no.

Tyson may come back to do some exhibition bouts for charity, but a serious comeback? Nah.

Cinco de Mayo boxing on ESPNews

Given today is Cinco de Mayo, it makes sense that ESPNews is showing five classic bouts beginning at 7 p.m. ET featuring Mexican superstar fighters.

The first fight shown will be Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera 1, the start of one of the greatest trilogies in the sport’s history. It will be followed by Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez 1, Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito 1, Oscar De La Hoya-Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. 1 and Pacquiao-Marquez 4.

I covered all five of those at ringside, and my personal ranking of them is Morales-Barrera, Pacquiao-Marquez 4, Pacquiao-Marquez 1, Cotto-Margarito and De La Hoya-Chavez.

Greatest Mexican boxers of all-time

Few countries have produced as many legitimately great boxers as Mexico, but BoxRec’s pound-for-pound Top 10 Mexican fighters list is laughable.

Marquez was a great fighter, but Chavez Sr. is widely regarded as one of the 20 greatest fighters ever, let alone in Mexico. He’s clearly the best in that country’s history. BoxRec’s list is missing greats like Ruben Olivares and Ricardo Lopez and the inclusion of Margarito is just puzzling.

Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles was born in Cuba but lived in Mexico and became a Mexican citizen, so he deserves to be included, as well.

Here’s my stab at the Mexican Top 10:

1. Julio César Chávez Sr.

2. Rubén Olivares

3. Salvador Sánchez

4. Canelo Alvarez

5. Carlos Zárate

6. Vicente Saldívar

7. Marco Antonio Barrera

8. Miguel Canto

9. Juan Manuel Márquez

10. Erik Morales

A picture is worth a thousand words

Dan Canobbio of CompuBox posted this picture of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Justin Bieber, Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon from 2012.

Little more needs to be said.

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