WHAT DOES ELBOW TASTE LIKE? FURY VS. CHISORA 3 REPORT
Did you see Tyson Fury versus Dereck Chisora 3? Because I went to it and I didn’t. I swore off stadium (specifically football stadium) fights after David Haye fought Chisora in 2012; it was like watching the Queen chew gum on her stamp, three hundred feet away. Maybe I'm old, perhaps I'm blind, possibly I'm just spoiled as someone with a press pass. I haven't seen a King stamp yet, but put it three hundred feet away and I'll have the same issue.
The best stadium fight I’ve seen was Wembley 2013 When Millwall got beat by Wigan. But that's only because I had a better view.
Being so close to the canvas that you have to take care of your camera lest it catch the boot of a backwheeling fighter is a privilege. An honour I had forgotten. There is nothing, nothing quite like being so close to combat that you can see as the saliva flies from someone's face, their head jolted back. Covering your drink with paper to stop specks of blood spattering into it. Hearing the fighters talk to themselves, their opponent and corner. When people talk about perspective of a fight, short of getting in, there is nothing like it.
There is an expression, "you could almost taste it", so it goes, and on Saturday that hit me almost as hard as an elbow might.
The metal bars between rows they have at the top of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for you to hold on to due to the lack of oxygen, steamed under my nose as I used them to steady my face cameras. People filmed themselves a lot. In the age of the individual are we more one, or less one? When experiencing a mass event there’s a duality, an odd acceptance that you're only there for the shared event but want people to share your singular perspective.
Watching Tyson Fury on the screens at Tottenham's annoyingly nice but hugely inconvenient stadium, wrestle Chisora away with his radius my desire to never spectate from this far again overwhelmed all the good of the rest of the evening. That good was not found in the fight, which Tyson Fury won defending his WBC heavyweight title. The stoppage, late in the tenth round, was undramatic yet welcome because it was fucking cold and as much as Dereck Chisora is popular, he isn't Tyson Fury popular, everyone was there for Fury.
You really are only there to say you were there.
This detachment from the action made me wistful, yearning for less prestigious but better boxing action. The Tower Bridge Hotel is a pretty salubrious venue. It isn’t perfect for boxing, if I’m completely honest, but you never know what works until you try it. Ultimately what counts for me is my ability to engage with it. I fell in love with boxing completely when it became so close I could almost taste it, as I did there again in March.
The only other fight worth mentioning last night saw Daniel Dubois defend his "world title" belt, for what it is worth. It looked as if he had an injury but the south Londoner also looked ready to quit, taking a knee three times in the first round. He didn't choose to exit and eventually his strength put Kevin Lerena's challenge in its place. I really hope Dubois can conquer the heavyweight division but his power seems to outweigh his fortitude.
The bastard elbow haunts me months later and is still indescribable yet more real than any boxing I saw last night. Here’s what struck me most, during Harry Mullins’ win against a dogged Stephen Jackson, an away fighter I’d pay to see, with all the noise, the movement, the colour; not to mention the sweat, breath, blood and aftershave (from the crowd) all I could think about as Jackson tried to bully his way in, was that Harry must know what elbow tastes like.
I'll admit it's a very strange thought, wondering what an elbow tastes like, but you try licking your elbows. It just struck me, watching the mauling violence roll around the ring. Boxing is such a sensory explosion at its best, mixed with adrenaline and enjoyment and attempting to focus for fighters and fans both, that taste was the only thing missing from one night, and all I could think about as my oxygen seeped away at Sp*rs.
That’s why I love being so close to a fight, you can feel it, you can almost taste it. What a privilege to be at those fights.
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