The worst kept secret in boxing is finally official. WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will face off against Tyson Fury in a spectacular heavyweight showdown on Dec. 1. Though he does not currently possess a title around his waist, Fury (27-0-0, 19 KO), is the lineal heavyweight champion of the world.
What exactly does the term “lineal champion” mean? The first heavyweight title fight under the Queensbury Rules occurred in 1892 between John L. Sullivan and James J. Corbett. Corbett won, becoming the first lineal heavyweight champion. The man who beat him (Bob Fitzsimmons) became the second lineal champ. The guy who beat Fitsimmons (James J. Jefferies) became the third and so forth.
Though mythical, the lineal championship is important in a time where there are seemingly as many sanctioning bodies and title belts as there are fast food chains. Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to win the lineal title, as well as the WBA, IBF and WBO belts, but was later stripped by all organizations due to inactivity.
While Anthony Joshua now owns all of Fury’s former trinkets, he never technically “beat the man that beat the man.” Since Joshua (22-0-0, 21 KO) has expressed a desire to face the winner of Wilder vs Fury, we could be one step closer to seeing the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Considering that Fury and Wilder (40-0-0, 39 KO) possess two of biggest personalities in the sport, the promotional tour leading up to the fight should be as entertaining as the fight itself.
Fireworks have already kicked off during the opening press run to promote the bout.
"I promise you I'm gonna knock out the 'Gypsy King,’ ” Wilder told attendees at the London press event. Timmmmbbberrrr!"
“Why am I going to beat this bum? Because he can't box, that's why," Fury responded. "He's a big swinger. OK, he's knocked a few bums out but really he's got 40 fights -- 35 of them have been against total tomato cans who can't fight back.”
There’s likely no real animosity between the combatants. Make no mistakes about it though, while they have vastly different styles, both men can scrap. They also both want to win to set up a lucrative bout with Joshua (assuming he and his promoter Eddie Hearn are done playing games).
Despite the fact that HBO is getting out of the boxing business (more on that story next week), the future of the sweet science is extremely bright thanks to fights like this.
Eric Reid signs with Panthers
Shout out to the Carolina Panthers for signing Eric Reid to a one-year contract, worth up to $2M. The 26-year-old former Pro Bowl safety had been without a job solely because he was the first player to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick. After suffering injuries in the secondary, the Panthers made the wise decision to sign an elite player rather than dusting off some random, unsigned scrub.
It was also refreshing to see Reid show up unapologetically black at his opening press conference. Draped in a black #IMWITHKAP t-shirt, Reid explained why he will not shy away from activism.
“Next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slaves touched the soil of this country. That’s 400 years of systemic oppression,” Reid stated. “That’s slavery, Jim Crown, new Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it.”
Reid continued to give a brilliant, in-depth explanation of why knelt alongside Kaepernick and why he intends to continue speaking out against injustice and oppression.
His final words at the press conference? “I’ll keep speaking up for my people.”
Hopefully, a team will eventually bring Kap back so I can finally tune in to check out this Pat Mahomes kid that’s tearing up the league in Kansas City.
Jimmy Butler still in limbo
It’s pretty clear that Jimmy Butler will not be wearing a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey when the NBA regular season begins. Butler wants out and the T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor has instructed his front office to deal the unhappy star as soon as possible. Rumors have linked Butler to the Clippers, Knicks, Rockets, Heat, 76ers and Nets. At this point though, it seems like anyone’s guess where Butler ultimately lands.
A report by Yahoo Sports suggested that the Milwaukee Bucks declined an offer from the Timberwolves involving Butler for Khris Middleton. Butler playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo is a scary and intriguing prospect.
However, the Bucks front office probably figures that there is a much greater chance at re-signing Middleton than Butler after the season (both will be eligible for free agency in 2019). Plus, Middleton already provides the Bucks with almost identical production to Butler, but will likely command less money on the free agent market.
Coach Tom Thibodeau still has dreams of convincing Butler to stay in Minnesota, but that seems like nothing more than a pipe dream. Don’t expect to see Butler in a Timberwolves jersey, or even on the sidelines. It appears that he will keep his distance from the team until his trade demand is fulfilled.
Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @ishcreates.