“Let’s have Royal Rumbles,” Tyson Fury said jokingly in a recent interview. The heavyweight boxer was calling for more fights amongst the elite fighters in his division ahead of his winning return to the ring. The Royal Rumble is one of the most popular events in the wrestling calendar. Thirty wrestlers enter the ring at incremental stages and the last person remaining is crowned the winner. There are certainly a lot of things which wrestling and boxing can learn from one another but is this a step too far?
Tyson Fury stepped back into the boxing ring earlier this month a full two and a half years since his last bout. The 29-year-old beat Sefer Seferi in four rounds and has already got his next date set. Fury won’t wait long before taking to the ring again with his 27th professional boxing bout scheduled a little over two months after his 26th. It’s something of a rarity for a professional boxer to move between fights that quickly and Fury hit out at his contemporaries in a recent interview.
“They are all afraid to fight one another,” Fury told the BBC.
“If any of us are going to be great champions, let’s knock one another about. Let’s have Royal Rumbles. The days of Ali, when he fought, Frazier, Foreman, everyone.
“Ali had three years out of the ring, had two fights and then lost to Frazier. Was it enough fights on his return? I don’t know. But he got back to his glory.”
It’s certainly an interesting idea. The Royal Rumble has been a staple in the professional wrestling calendar since the first one way back in 1988. The format is simple. A group – now regularly 30 fighters – enter the ring one by one at time increments. They fight, try to eliminate one another and the person left standing is crowned the winner.
The popularity of the event in WWE has skyrocketed in the last decade with big money from pay per view and star names in the ring. So much so that in January of this year, the first women-only event was held at the Wells Fargo Centre in Pennsylvania. As Bleacher Report has noted, there have been some memorable Royal Rumble moments down the years but could the event transition to the world of boxing? Tyson Fury may have intended his remarks as a joke but what would a heavyweight boxing Royal Rumble actually look like?
The biggest stumbling block for a boxing Royal Rumble is entry number. Logic would suggest that the fewer fighters you have to face, the better chance you have of finishing as the last one standing and there is some historical truth for that. Excluding the 40 and 50-fighter events, the majority of Royal Rumble winners have entered in the latter stages. In fact, 20 of the eventual winners entered the ring during the final third of the event.
But there is more to it than that. However unlikely, many have been crowned the last person standing despite spending the majority of the match in the ring. Back in 2006, Rey Mysterio became the fourth eventual winner to win the crown when he entered second to triumph in Florida. That itself was a record. Sky Sports found that in order to pick up that win, Mysterio spent more time in the ring than any other fighter in Royal Rumble history at over 62 minutes.
Boxers are certainly used to shorter bouts than that even if things go the full twelve rounds. This makes entry order all the more important and the biggest problem with an event like that. World rankings could give higher-placed fighters a deserved advantage but as we have discovered, that isn’t guaranteed and there are far more factors in play.
Many would expect that luck plays a part in the outcome of an event like this. Someone could get lucky and remain in the ring as an effective spectator while other fighters are occupied with one another. That sort of luck is a lot more important to the outcome of the fight than any pre-fight fortune. Research by Betway Casino has found that more people consider 7 to be their lucky number than any other while 13 is often identified as the unluckiest. However, it seems that superstition is not as influential in the Royal Rumble with one winner entering in 13th place and no winners coming in seventh.
Tyson Fury’s remarks about a heavyweight boxing Royal Rumble were certainly intended as a joke but it is interesting to think about. Boxing and professional wrestling can certainly learn from one another but this is perhaps one step too far. The chance and unpredictability of a Royal Rumble certainly lend itself more to wrestling than anything Fury’s field is used to. Perhaps the boxers should just stick to boxing.