While fight fans the world over are still trying to get used to the fact that the current heavyweight division is pretty much all over the place in terms of who the main man is, who’s the best, the battle for supremacy in terms of who is the most popular, the most likable, the easiest big man to identify with, also rages.
Promoter Bob Arum has said many times how he believes he can make Tyson Fury, the reigning lineal champ, a beloved fighter very much in the George Foreman mold. “Big George” of course attained folk hero status in his second incarnation, endearing himself to millions of people; some hardcore fight fans, many others nothing of the kind. George made age his rallying cry, how it would not define him. Foreman also used his less than chiseled physique to his advantage. How the average man on the couch could look at George and feel so good.
Andy Ruiz, the new champ, has been having much the same effect these past few weeks. Mixed in with the jokes has been genuine inspiration. Ruiz, another fighter easily rooted for by the every man, simply makes fans smile. The feel-good moment of the year for anyone who isn’t (or wasn’t) an Anthony Joshua fan provided by that shock, never-write-anyone-off upset of June 1, Ruiz can keep the momentum going if he can keep winning.
Tyson Fury, who has also battled weight issues, along with more serious mental health problems, has also inspired many. Another giant with flaws who is seriously easy to root for, Fury enjoys the same kind of fan support Ruiz is currently enjoying. Both heavyweight champions have in their arsenal one big charm offensive and there is now a battle raging when it comes to which of the two men it is that becomes THE fan favorite, THE modern day hero with boxing gloves.
Both men are genuinely likable, with Ruiz being far less outspoken than the at times controversial Fury. This Saturday night, Fury takes the first step, Arum hopes and aims for, towards winning over the American fans. Ruiz is one huge leap ahead of him, being extraordinarily popular in Mexico also of course, but fans love a winner. Which champ can keep the inspiring victories coming?
Deontay Wilder is happy to be the bad guy, the gunslinger in the black hat. Anthony Joshua, another genuine nice guy, is in need of one big rebuild. And Andy Ruiz and Tyson Fury are the poster boys for how to overcome the odds. Both fighters have enviable popularity, but there can be only one. Who is the most lovable heavyweight on the planet right now? And another tough question: who on earth would you be cheering for if Ruiz and Fury fought one another?