'I’ve never seen anything like it!': Frank Warren interview
Luke G. Williams
Photo: Harry How / Getty Images
In an exclusive interview with Boxing Monthly promoter Frank Warren talks about the thrilling and controversial Wilder vs Fury clash – including his thoughts on an “atrocious” scorecard and Fury’s “Terminator” style resurrection…
The boxing world is abuzz with the familiar cocktail of excitement, adrenaline and outrage as Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren makes his way to the airport in Los Angeles and kindly finds the time to speak to Boxing Monthly about one of the most remarkable heavyweight title fights in recent memory.
Warren shares the contrasting emotions of frustration and elation that many observers have been experiencing in the hours since lineal champion Tyson Fury twice rose from the canvas amid handing out a boxing clinic to WBC titlist Deontay Wilder - only to be denied an astonishing victory when the contest was adjudged a split-decision draw.
“I thought it was a great fight,” Warren says. “It was dramatic, fast-paced and certainly the latter rounds had you on the edge of your seat.
“I thought Tyson won the fight and I thought that the scoring of the American judge [Mexican-born, Californian-based Alejandro Rochin, who scored the contest 115-111 in Wilder's favour] was atrocious. I don’t know how he could give the first four or five rounds to Wilder. I don’t know what fight he was watching.
“[TV network] Showtime had Fury up 5-1. Everybody who I know and respect in boxing, who has good opinions, like Teddy Atlas, [Floyd] Mayweather, all those guys they all had Fury winning.”
Warren pauses for a beat and then adds, with a sigh: “Unfortunately, you know what we’re doing? We’re talking about controversy, like we did with the first Canelo vs Golovkin fight.
“It takes away from the fight. It’s awful. These judges should be demoted or given time outs for doing stuff like this. It’s not acceptable. If it was a football referee doing this type of thing they’d be put down from the Premiership to the Sunday leagues.”
In Fury’s immediate post-fight interviews he was incredibly gracious and philosophical about the decision.
“I thought his reaction was very good,” Warren admits. “I think what he was trying to do was take the heat out of it. A lot of people were upset with the decision and I think Tyson was trying to make sure there was no crowd trouble.”
As well as the scorecards, much post-fight debate has focused on interpreting how the Fury vs Wilder showdown has changed the pecking order of the heavyweight division.
Advocates of Fury maintain that his lineal status and performance against Wilder mean that he should be regarded as the heavyweight division’s number one pugilist, while supporters of Anthony Joshua maintain that his status as unified WBA, WBO and IBF champion means that he is top dog.
Unsurprisingly, Warren is adamant that Fury is ‘the man’.
“I always said the winner of this fight would be the number one heavyweight in the world and that if Fury could come back and beat the 40-0 WBC champion that would be the greatest comeback.
"That’s been denied by this decision. The fact of the matter is they’ve taken something away from him.
“But, yes he’s the people’s champion and absolutely, he’s the lineal champion. The guy who beat the guy [Wladimir Klitschko] and beat him 18 months before Anthony Joshua did.
“Then he travelled to the other guy’s [Wilder’s] backyard and fought the biggest punching heavyweight out there.”
Warren then gives Boxing Monthly his take on Fury’s incredible recovery from the huge 12th round knockdown. “It was like The Terminator restarting with an electric spark! I’ve never seen anything like it, I thought he was gone!”
When I make the comparison between Fury’s recovery and the way Larry Holmes climbed off the canvas in the seventh round of his second meeting with Earnie Shavers in 1979, Warren concurs.
“Shavers was a massive puncher who never won a world title,” he recalls. “Deontay Wilder must punch as hard as Shavers - he’s the biggest puncher out there.”
As for the future, Warren admitted no decisions have yet been made regarding a Wilder vs Fury rematch, while at the same time emphasising how much he has enjoyed his time working with Fury.
“We’re going to have some time off and then work out where we’re going. It’s been a privilege [working with Fury]. I’ve had great fun.
“I’ve been around a long time and it’s been great for me to be a part of this history he’s been making in boxing. It’s been one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had.
“Look, he’s a man of the people. He’s not a corporate identity. He’s not somebody who has a load of people between him [and the public], he’s approachable. All the great sporting heroes are approachable people.”