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“The Worst Decision In The Sport”: When Tyson Fury Should’ve Lost His Undefeated Record

“The Worst Decision In The Sport”: When Tyson Fury Should’ve Lost His Undefeated Record

Outrage greeted Terry O'Connor's scorecard when young prospect Tyson Fury was gifted a win over luckless opponent John McDermott in 2009.

"Going into the last round my corner told me: 'John, you're at least four rounds in front, keep on him,'" an emotional McDermott said post-fight. "What have I got to do to win here?"

Poor John is far from the first boxer to suffer a bad decision - but he might be among the most forgotten.

Sky Sports commentators were shocked by the verdict, promoter Frank Maloney called it "daylight robbery", while Guardian boxing reporter Kevin Mitchell wrote simply: "I honestly cannot remember a worse decision in the sport."

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Even hot-headed Fury was unusually sheepish afterwards, admitting, "That wasn't a good performance by me at all. I'd rate that a two out of 10."

O'Connor, who acted as referee and sole judge, was a lot kinder. His baffling scorecard read 8-2 in Fury's favour after 10 rounds.

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As shocking as the score is, it's equally shocking to watch the man who dodged Wladimir Klitschko's punches with his hands behind his back get his head rocked by a fighter he was supposed to steamroller.

McDermott nailed Fury repeatedly with eye-catching overhand rights, rendering O'Connor's verdict ridiculous.

Perhaps the ref was judging 'Big John' by his looks. Fury labelled his opponent "McMuffin" and "Big Mac" before the English heavyweight title clash - ironic given his later weight struggles - inspiring McDermott to train with a ferocity which belied his flabby physique.

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Such a controversial result couldn't be ignored by the British Boxing Board of Control, who began an inquiry, while Maloney appealed that the fight be ruled a 'no contest'. That was always unlikely but the BBBC ordered a rematch within 90 days - this time with three ringside judges.

Fury claimed the post-fight uproar was "over the top" in public, but secretly knew the massive importance of the second fight.

"I was going to retire if I lost the rematch and just forget about boxing," he claimed in his 2019 autobiography. "I knew if I was going anywhere, I had to beat him."

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Fury loves an overstatement but there's truth here. If he'd lost, many would've viewed him as going '0-2' with a domestic-level boxer - and the Gypsy King's path to heavyweight glory would've halted immediately.

The rematch, however, saw the 21-year-old prospect box smarter and hit with more authority. McDermott gave almost as good as he got early on but, in a boiling-hot Brentwood Centre, Fury took over in the eighth round, flooring his rival before stopping him in the ninth.

Fury's record was now 11-0 (nine KOs), although most people believe it should probably have been 10-1, given the outcome of the first fight.

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McDermott fought only four more times, including a first-round demolition at the fists of Fury's old amateur rival David Price.

Two years before Fury shocked the world against Klitschko, Big John had his last pro fight in 2013. "Your face has to fit if you want to go all the way," he later said of his pro career, possibly thinking of that first Fury outcome.

He made £500,000 in his boxing career but says now that, while he loves the sport, "If I had my life again, I don't think I would be a boxer."

Fury will make much more than that in just one fight when he rematches Deontay Wilder. But for all Fury's justifiable complaints that he should have got the verdict in their 2018 draw, he himself was once got the luck in an even more dubious judging decision over a decade ago.

Topics: Tyson Fury, Boxing, Gypsy King

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Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.