Boxer Tyson Fury shrewdly raising profile with empty challenges to UFC champ Cain Velasquez

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

UK Heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, a 24-year-old on the fringes of contention, has been calling out UFC Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez and has succeeded in generating a fair bit of publicity for himself in the process.

UK Heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury has managed to generate a good deal of publicity for himself by "calling out" UFC Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. Most recently he responded to UFC president Dana White's offer to "come on over and we'll make a deal. You want to fight Cain? You will get smashed."

Fury responded via Kevin Francis of th UK Daily Star:

"I'm definitely interested but the money would have to be right."

Fury says that ­Mexican-American Velasquez would be a no-hoper in what he says would be a ‘‘man versus midget'' contest.

"I am 100 per cent up for a fight with him. I've challenged him to a fight three times but he's a little boy who doesn't want to fight and has said ‘No' to the fight live on television."

For his part, Velasquez seems less interested in Fury's challenge than Dana White is, also telling the Star: "I'm not a boxer, I'm a mixed martial artist and if he wants to fight he can go into the UFC and work his way up like everybody else has to do. "I didn't even know who he was until this and I think he's using my name to gain publicity, which he has done."

The unbeaten Fury is nearing contention for a shot at a major Heavyweight title following his KO win over Steve Cunningham in New York in April. Fury's biggest name win is a 2011 unanimous decision over the infamous British brawler Dereck Chisora.

Damon Martin is adamant that Fury should be ignored, although he devoted a post to the topic to make that statement. Martin points out that The Ring Magazine has Fury ranked at #8 -- far out of title contention and points to's Chris Mannix who says that Fury is nowhere near ready for the Klitschkos:

There is no question there is talent in the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Fury. He throws a lot of punches, has good power and a knack for knowing how to close the show. He's a big man who fights like one; Fury is masterful at leaning on an opponent, draining him by forcing him to wear his full weight. Fury walked into some very good shots from Cunningham but his relentless pressure allowed him to close the show.

But he did walk into some shots. And if Fury crashed to the canvas from an overhand right from Cunningham, how will he hold up to a straight shot from Wladimir Klitschko, the most powerful one-punch heavyweight in boxing?

The truth is, Fury isn't ready for either Klitschko. Not yet, anyway. Peter Fury, Tyson's uncle, who couldn't work Fury's corner last weekend because of visa issues, has done an excellent job molding Fury into a well rounded fighter. But Cunningham was only the Fury's fourth fight working together and before that, Tyson confessed to lacking any discipline, occasionally drinking heavily the nights before a fight.

Here's Martin's contemptuous dismissal of the Fury challenge:

The idea that Fury could maximize publicity and somehow work out a deal to come to the UFC on day one and earn a shot against the best heavyweight in MMA is laughable, and we all need to stop entertaining the idea.

Fury fighting Velasquez in MMA is not only a mismatch-it's demeaning to the sport of MMA. It's no different than Velasquez, who has zero boxing credentials on his record, moving to that sport and challenging Wladimir Klitschko for his title.

These outrageous statements are meant to get the press in a frenzy, but not to actually put a fight together between Fury and Velasquez in MMA.

As MMA continues to strive for mainstream acceptance, the UFC and media alike need to learn to ignore these kinds of challenges if the sport will be taken seriously.

Personally I disagree. MMA can always use more cross-over fans from boxing and anything that gets a few boxing fans curious enough to investigate who Cain Velasquez is is a net win for the sport. Furthermore the notion that MMA has any need to "be taken seriously" is farcical on its face.

Combat sports has always been, and always will be, the land of the carny barker, the outsize claim, the big talker and the ridiculous-never-gonna-happen-but-maybe-just-maybe-if-we-talk-about-it-enough-it-will bout.

Let Fury talk. Let Dana White respond. If the stars align and the UFC decides to grossly distort its pay scale to compete with the bigger boxing paydays that Fury commands, let's see how Fury does in the Octagon. Odds are it would end very badly for him, but you never can tell and besides it's fun to talk about and a good excuse to hip BE readers to an up and coming Heavyweight boxer.

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