Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Tyson Fury, the lineal championship, Briedis-Glowacki, Robert Byrd)
RING’S OFFICAL POSITION ON FURY’S LINEAL CHAMP STATUS
Just a quick question in case you have time to answer: Does The Ring have an official position on Tyson Fury’s status as “lineal” heavyweight champion? Has there been any discussion about this among The Ring’s editorial staff or, more broadly, The Ring’s ratings panel?
Wikipedia considers the lineal title to be vacant due to retirement by Fury on October 18, 2016. That’s around the time when he vacated his sanctioning body belts, although if you look at his comments that week and also later in July 2017 when he also made comments that could be interpreted as a retirement, unless I’m missing something his statements were cryptic enough where maybe you could say it wasn’t 100% clear.
It’s not a question I am bent out of shape over, I consider the Ring magazine ratings (and Ring magazine titles) to be the standard I go by in terms of ranking fighters, but I am a little curious about it given all of the discussion about the topic on ESPN and between fans this weekend (particularly after reading Joseph Santoliquito’s recap of the Fury/Tom Schwarz fight on the Ring website). Thanks for any insight into this. – Jerry V., Los Angeles
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and question, Jerry.
Personally, I recognize Tyson Fury as the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. He earned the designation when he defeated Wladimir Klitschko in late 2015 and he hasn’t lost since. That’s what sets the mythical lineal championship status apart from the sanctioning organization belts and even The Ring Magazine title – it can’t be stripped from the holder; it can only be lost in the ring.
But viewing Fury as the lineal champ is merely my opinion and, as I’m sure you’re aware, I’m an amateur historian and hardcore boxing nerd. It’s not the official position of The Ring magazine. There are members of the Editorial Board and Ratings Panel who do not recognize lineal championships. There are members of the Panel who do recognize lineal championships but do not consider Fury to be the lineal heavyweight champ. And there are those who just don’t give a s__t. I’m OK with that. I view lineal champion status much the same way I view the mythical pound-for-pound king status among boxers, it’s reserved for special standouts of the sport but it’s also up for debate. The purists and historians among the media and fandom are more inclined to recognize it than newer or causal fans (and in the case of Fury, you can toss cynical fans into the group of doubters because they view his lineal status as a PR agenda from ESPN and Top Rank — and that’s fair).
Sunday evening, I asked my co-editors (Managing Editor Brian Harty and Associate Editor Tom Gray), via Whats App, to give me their thoughts on the lineal championship. Gray – who covered the Warrington-Galahad fight for us in Leeds, England; presented Naseem Hamed with a retroactive Ring title, conducted an exclusive interview with Naz, and was also busy with the cover story for the next issue – didn’t get back to me. (And he’s probably sick of the subject, having dealt with typically rude Twitter heads all last week who are either fanatically for or against Fury’s lineal status.) Harty, who isn’t on social media, got back to me and shared these notes:
“I’m interested in it because it often lines up with the Ring belt (and would in this case if we hadn’t stripped Fury). It’s a good selling point. But I prefer the Ring belt over ‘lineal’ because it has some semblance of rules to keep the competition strong. Bit of a digression, though. I don’t know what kind of position you can have on it other than ‘yeah, OK, cool.’
“I like it for the same reasons that (Max) Kellerman was listing – no sanctioning connections, no politics, no buying (and history, of course). A little too loose to be jerking off over it the way they (ESPN) were, though.”
There are several members of the Ring Ratings Panel who are on Twitter – including Tris Dixon, Michael Montero, Adam Abramowitz, Anson Wainwright, Ryan Songalia, Marty Mulcahey, Diego Morilla and Coyote Duran – and I invite you to contact them and get their two cents on the subject. Boxing scribe Cliff Rold, who is not a member of the Ring Ratings Panel but is well versed in boxing and lineal championship history, is a good source for clarity on this subject. He’s also on Twitter.
Wikipedia considers the lineal title to be vacant due to retirement by Fury on October 18, 2016. I respectfully disagree with Wiki. The link they provided is about Fury dropping the WBO and WBA titles, which have NOTHING to do with the lineal championship.
And at no point during Fury’s hiatus from boxing did anyone at The Ring believe that he was done with the sport.
In the article that you (and Wiki) linked to, he said he was dropping the belts because he was dealing with his depression. He said he didn’t want to hold the titles hostage while he did that and was coming back as soon as he got his mind right. The article even included this embedded Tweet from Fury:
Good news is I’m getting the right help & I’ll be back even stronger than before, try & stop me!!😀😀😀🙏🙏 God is great, blessed is Jesus.
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) October 3, 2016
Even when Fury Tweeted that he was quitting, we didn’t buy it. Former Editor-In-Chief Michael Rosenthal is an old-school journalist (and generally not on social media). When members of the Ratings Panel brought up Fury’s Tweet, he contacted the heavyweight’s promoter at the time (Mick Hennessy), who basically told him that Fury was temporarily out of sorts, in part due to the stress of dealing with legal battles with the BBBoC and UKAD, but was definitely NOT permanently out of the sport. Rosenthal trusted Hennessy and made the choice not to strip Fury of The Ring title, despite the big man being out of the ring for nearly two years. When I took over the magazine’s EIC reins in late 2017, I set a deadline for Fury (and his new team, which included Frank Warren): the end of January 2018. I did this because The Ring’s top-rated heavyweights were facing each other in March 2018 (Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz and Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker) and representatives from Team Wilder and Team AJ contacted me to ask if The Ring title would or could be on the line. It drove home to me how unfair it was to the other heavyweights that Fury held The Ring championship, even though I knew he was returning to the ring that year. I also figured it would take him several fights to get back into top form. (Turns out it only took him two tune-ups to be ready to face a top dog.) So, we stripped him on January 31, 2018, and Fury, to his credit, accepted our decision to do so.
However, The Ring title is NOT the lineal championship. In his mind (and the minds of his many fans, and obviously his business partners) he remained the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. And I have no problem with that.
ESPN’S LINEAL TITLE HYPE
I got a little worn out with all the Lineal Championship hype ESPN was putting out for the Fury fight. Lineal Champion is a nice concept that unfortunately does not mean much when put under a microscope. The main problem is champions can either pass away, like Marciano, or retire, like Lennox Lewis.
Neither of the Klitschko brothers defeated Lennox Lewis before he retired. In addition the brothers never fought each other. I am not sure by what logic Wladimir is considered the lineal champion over Vitali but he did not “beat the man who beat the man…”.
From a marketing standpoint it does sound better to say this is for the “Lineal Heavyweight Championship” than here is a heavyweight fight of absolutely no significance. However that does not change the reality that Andy Ruiz and Deontay Wilder hold all of the belts.
That being said I do think it was a smart move for Fury to take a soft touch after such heavy punishment from Wilder. He may have finally shaken off the ring rust. – Dylan
Fury looked sharp, elusive and confident versus the unheralded German prospect. If he remains focused, in training and gets another fight in this year, he’s gonna be a handful for any top heavyweight, including Wilder (who most believe he outclassed and should have outpointed last December), Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz.
The Schwarz fight was less about shaking ring rust than it was about ESPN introducing Fury to the American sports-viewing public. I think it was a success. They pumped up his ring return for weeks with a buttload of shoulder programming, Fury was his usual charming and bombastic self during the fight-week media events, he attracted a decent-sized crowd in Vegas, and then he took care of Schwarz the way a top-rated heavyweight should dismiss an unproven mid-level talent. And when it comes to being engaging and fun during post-fight interviews and post-fight press conferences, nobody comes close to Tyson Fury. There’s no doubt that he gained new American fans over the weekend, and he’ll grab a lot more before and after his next scheduled bout in September or October. ESPN and Top Rank might piss off hardcore fans with their cheerleading and lineal title fetish, but they know what they are doing.
I got a little worn out with all the Lineal Championship hype ESPN was putting out for the Fury fight. If you had played the drinking game with every mention of “lineal champ” during Saturday’s broadcast you would have died of alcohol poisoning by the end of the night.
Lineal Champion is a nice concept that unfortunately does not mean much when put under a microscope. Does it really need to be put under a microscope? In general, does professional sports mean much when put under a microscope? I think everybody needs to lighten the f__k up.
The main problem is champions can either pass away, like Marciano, or retire, like Lennox Lewis. So what? Rocky Marciano retired from boxing in April 1956 (at age 31) long before he died in a plane crash in 1969. Former foe Archie Moore (the last contender Rocky beat before retiring) and young Floyd Patterson fought for the vacant heavyweight title in November 1956. Patterson won via fifth-round KO and became the new heavyweight champ. The lineage that was cut off with Marciano’s retirement was restarted with Patterson because he was the undisputed champ – the NBA (which later became the WBA) and all of the powerful boxing commissions, which occasionally declared their own “world champs,” all recognized the 21-year-old New Yorker as the champ. When a championship lineage is broken, a fighter can earn “lineal champ” status via universal recognition, that what happened when Bernard Hopkins beat Felix Trinidad and when Wladimir Klitschko collected all the major belts (including The Ring title) except for the WBC title his brother held and then Vitali retired in December 2013. Nobody cared that Harry Simon held the WBO title in 2001, or that Bermane Stiverne won the vacant WBC belt in May 2014. Hopkins was THE middleweight champ and Klitschko was THE heavyweight champ.
Neither of the Klitschko brothers defeated Lennox Lewis before he retired. So what? From 2003-2012 Vitali beat every heavyweight he fought (including contenders Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, Chris Arreola, Juan Carlos Gomez and Sam Peter) and between 2005-2015 Wladdy dominated the division. During that 10-year span, Wlad earned universal recognition as THE champ. Deontay Wilder won the WBC title in early 2015 but he didn’t earn his stripes as a legit world-beater until last year.
In addition the brothers never fought each other. That’s because they are civilized human beings.
I am not sure by what logic Wladimir is considered the lineal champion over Vitali but he did not “beat the man who beat the man…”. No, he became the man that Tyson Fury beat. Now Fury is the man.
I swear I wrote to you before reading Santoliquito’s report which used pretty much the same language I did about the “lineal championship.”
The Breidis-Glowacki controversy reminds me of something I have been meaning to ask you: Exactly what is a rabbit punch. I remember learning many years ago that it was a punch to the back of the neck, which is how farmers used to kill rabbits they had raised for meat. A punch to the back of the head, say at the level of the ears or above, was legal. These days I am hearing that a punch to the back of the head is illegal too. It would be really helpful if you would clarify this for us.
Best. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock, NY
A “Rabbit Punch” is a punch directly to the back of the head (not to the ear or the temple or high on the side of the head), ant it is a foul punch and very dangerous. I’ll never understand why referees aren’t more vigilant about this illegal punch. A guy gets hit with a borderline low blow, the ref halts the action and gives him up to five minutes to recover. Nine out of 10 times when a guy gets nailed to the back of his head – directly to his cerebellum (the part of the brain responsible for balance and coordination) and his freakin’ brain stem – the ref doesn’t do anything save warn the a__hole who delivered the vicious shot.
Briedis is a tough guy and a cop. His instinct was to retaliate and nail Glowacki with an elbow to the chops, which was a flagrant foul (and mean as f__k). But had he reacted to the “Rabbit Punch,” the shot to the back of his head, I think referee Robert Byrd should have stepped in and given him time to recover (and maybe dock Glowacki a point for the infraction).
I swear I wrote to you before reading Santoliquido’s report which used pretty much the same language I did about the “lineal championship.”
I’m glad you switched subjects to the Rabbit Punch. I just don’t understand why anyone is bothered by ESPN referring to Fury as the lineal champ.
I’m writing for the first time. I’m from Serbia and although boxing is not among the most popular sports here, there are some of us that await the next match with anticipation, and your work and magazine is a valuable source of information and I thank you. I’ll try to keep it short, and I’m sorry for any typos or bad grammar.
Is the elbow move Mairis Briedis used on Krzysztof Glowacki enough for disqualification, and if so why don’t the judging body apply it? Hometown or not, it was a world cup type event and such things should not be tolerated, no?
If the ref was old enough not to be able to hear the bell, Mairis should have been the sportsman and stop. I understand the heat of the battle but the bell was pretty hot too. Is not that move too enough for disqualification. The match was a no-contest at best.
Best wishes from Serbia, and thank you – Nenad
Thanks for the kind words, Nenad.
During a fight, only the referee has the authority to disqualify a fighter. In the case of the Briedis-Glowacki fight, referee Robert Byrd saw fit to penalize Briedie a point for the flagrant elbow the hometown hero landed in retaliation for the Polish visitor’s punch to the back of his head. If Byrd had been on top of things, it would have been within his right to warn or penalize Glowacki for the Rabbit Punch. I also believe that it would have been within the scope of Byrd’s responsibility to give either fighter up to five minutes to recover from the fouls shots they absorbed. However, things move fast during a shootout in the prize ring and Byrd is far removed from his prime as a referee. He simply wasn’t able to keep up with the wild action that Briedis and Glowacki created. Truth be told, only the world’s best referees would have been able to deal with what went down in Round 2 of the WBSS semifinal.
Is the elbow move Mairis Briedis used on Krzysztof Glowacki enough for disqualification, and if so why don’t the judging body apply it? I believe that the illegal move was blatant enough for a referee to disqualify Briedis, but it’s up to his or her discretion. Byrd saw fit to penalize one point. That’s it. A different referee might have DQ’d Briedis, but that call would have taken massive balls in Riga, Latvia. Glowacki’s team has the right to protest Byrd’s decision (and the veteran ref’s other poor calls) to the Lativian boxing commission and the WBO, which sanctioned the bout. Upon review of the fight footage, the commission could fine Briedis or even declare the bout a no-contest. The WBO could order a mandatory rematch. The latter is more likely than the former.
Hometown or not, it was a world cup type event and such things should not be tolerated, no? It wouldn’t have been tolerated with a better referee. We’ll see what Team Glowacki decides to do about the way their fighter was treated. But for now, the WBSS final is on between Briedis and Yunier Dorticos. Maybe Glowacki will be promised a shot at the winner.
THE WILD WEST (IN LATVIA)
Briedis v Glowacki was some especially prime wild west shytte all the way over there in Latvia! What are your thoughts here? — I couldn’t tell if or how much Glowacki was attempting to milk the elbow foul — perhaps not at all, but it was an egregious foul.
I thought he should have had more time, if not a DQ, but I really don’t understand the protocol, or if there even is any. I didn’t want to see a DQ, but how to handle such a moment?
So, he was knocked down (again) after, took the count, the round ended (or the bell rang), the ref didn’t hear the bell, and Briedis knocked him down, hard, again, while the bell was and had been for awhile, clanging away. Mad mad scene.
My girlfriend’s comment “it never really occurred to me before this fight how much there are actually three characters in the ring” was telling.
Do you think a complaint can (or should) be lodged? It seems unlikely anything would come of it anyway, unless Glowacki has more promotional clout than I know of.
So I enjoyed seeing Dortico ply his trade in the end (very glad Tabiti left the ring under his own power), but it was an ugly fight. Looking elsewhere for solace I saw the Maloney twins worsted a couple no hopers inside three rounds apiece, Josh Warrington got the benefit of a highly questionable decision, and there was some minor fracas in Las Vegas, but I was long asleep by then.
I’m glad for the pending mid-week interest of Kazuto Ioka vs Aston Palicte — I’m rooting for Ioka and expect a hell of a fight.
Anyways, I hope the rest of your weekend was A ok! Cheers. – Alec
It was lovely, Alec.
Ioka generally makes for good fights. The three-division titleholder from Japan is a class operator, but the Filipino contender is huge for the weight class (115 pounds) and very strong. It should be an interesting contest.
I thought Warrington deserved a close nod in an ugly fight. Kid Galahad did more running and holding than punching. I’m very high on the Moloney brothers and very interested to see what Top Rank can do with them in America.
The KO Doctor still has it. I worried that his fight-of-the-year candidate with Murat Gassiev took something out of him, but he’s still monster in the 200-pound division. His fight with Briedis will be a scorcher.
What are your thoughts here? — I couldn’t tell if or how much Glowacki was attempting to milk the elbow foul — perhaps not at all, but it was an egregious foul. I think Glowacki milked the foul a little bit but there’s no denying that Briedis elbowed him hard to the jaw and there’s no telling how much that took from his punch resistance for the remainder of the fight.
I thought he should have had more time, if not a DQ, but I really don’t understand the protocol, or if there even is any. It’s all up to the referee. I think Glowacki, who needed to be warned about his punch to the back of Briedis’ head, deserved some time to recover from the elbow.
I didn’t want to see a DQ, but how to handle such a moment? Give the man who flopped face-first to the canvas the option of taking some time to gather his wits (up to five minutes).
So, he was knocked down (again) after, took the count, the round ended (or the bell rang), the ref didn’t hear the bell, and Briedis knocked him down, hard, again, while the bell was and had been for awhile, clanging away. Mad mad scene. That was a hot f__king mess. That’s where Team Glowacki can go to the commission or the WBO and demand action. That second knockdown should not have counted, and again, Glowacki deserved extra time to recover.
My girlfriend’s comment “it never really occurred to me before this fight how much there are actually three characters in the ring” was telling. A good ref is invisible.
Do you think a complaint can (or should) be lodged? HELL YES!
It seems unlikely anything would come of it anyway, unless Glowacki has more promotional clout than I know of. Hey, the squeaky door gets the oil. At the very least they can work out a deal where they get first shot at the winner of the WBSS final.
Do you think it’s time for Robert Byrd to retire? – Rodemeyer
I’ll put it you like this: When Mills Lane retired from refereeing in December 1998, he told the media “when you don’t move like you used to and you can no longer hear the bell, it’s time to retire.”
Lane was 61 when he retired from refereeing. Byrd is 74.