Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Beauty beats The Beast

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Emma Raducanu won the US Open with a remarkable run. Photo NY Times
  • By Ivan Agnew, award-winning sports writer

Beauty beats The Beast in sport when the contest is between rising tennis star Emma Raducanu and world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury.

Being prettier, teenager Raducanu is easier to watch although Gypsy King Fury can also make complusive viewing when he backs up outlandish bragging with punches that drive opponents as silly as he is.

Or is he as crazy as he seems or as smart as a fox?  I’m not sure. But as a boxer who can back up his boasts with a knockout punch, Fury deserves respect.

“I know you had your hearts in your mouth but don’t ever doubt me when the chips are down,” he told fans after knocking out lethal puncher Wilder in the 11th round of their T-Mobile Arena thriller.

There were five knockdowns shared in that fight and Fury’s last delivered the coup de grace. Not pretty, certainly but enthralling, absolutely.

It’s a shame, though, that he derided Wilder in such a foul manner in pre-match hype. Usually boxers develop huge respect for one another when taken to the limit of their powers.

Not Muhammad Ali though, who remains my favourite heavyweight. Despite some absolute classics against gutsy Joe Frazier including The Thriller in Manilla which Ali renamed “The Gorilla in Manilla,” Ali continued to bad mouth his rival.

This despite a bruising fight which took both men to their limit before closed eyes didn’t allow a bloodied Frazier to come out of his corner for the final round.

Years later when sharing a few convivial drinks with ‘Smoking Joe’ in an Auckland pub, I asked why he kept referring to converted Black Muslim Ali as Clay, the slave name given to his ancestors.

“Because that’s his f…… name,” Frazier snarled.

While Fury delivered once more against KO King Wilder, tennis fans who had hoped to witness history at the United States Open in New York where Novak Djokovic sought to break the 20 majors men’s record he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal went home disappointed after he was upstaged by rangy Daniil Medvedev at the final hurdle 6-4 6-4 6-4.

The Russian also killed Djokovic ‘s dream of becoming the first male since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the four majors (Australian, French, Wimbledon, United States) in the same year.

In doing so he came a hero for those who prefer the exquisite skill and grace of Swiss maestro Federer or the pugnacous fighting heart of Spanish matador Nadal.

Having witnessed the rise of 18-year-old teenage queen Emma Raducanu from a world-ranked No 150 to No 23 in the US Open women’s singles final, tennis fans still had much to cherish.

The daughter of a Romanian father and Chinese mother, born in Montreal, Canada, Emma moved to England with her family when she was two and is now the top-ranked British woman.

A baseline player who attacks the ball early and has a lethal two-handed backhand, she won all three of her qualifying games at the US Open and all seven of her matches without dropping a set.

Her opponent in a final won 6-4, 6-4 was another teenage charmer in 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Spain which made a pleasant change from the domination of ageing veterans like the remarkable Serena Williams.

Footnote: With hip and eye operations pending Agnew’s Angle will disappear for a while.

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