Heavyweights Are At Risk of Becoming a Farce Again
By Dean Wigzell
Back in July 2018, Matchroom Boxing made the unprecedented move of announcing the dates and venue for Anthony Joshua’s next two fights.
Russian Alexander Povetkin would fill the slot at Wembley Stadium on September 22nd and an unnamed opponent would fill the slot on April 13th 2019.
The plan was clear for all to see, get past Povetkin and then unify the division against the winner of December’s fight between WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
Fast forward to January 2019 and the previously predicted landscape of the heavyweight division, at least from Joshua’s perspective, has been thrown into complete disarray.
A controversial draw between Wilder and Fury leaves them with little option but to make a rematch top of their list of priorities.
So where does that leave Joshua? A rematch with Dillian Whyte seems to make perfect sense, both from a commercial standing and competitive standing.
However, American Jarrell Miller appears to have moved to the front of the queue of late. He recently signed with Matchroom Boxing’s USA branch and it would seem in this case, more importantly with broadcaster DAZN.
It also seems that this fight won’t take place at the national stadium after all, New York appears to be the venue set for this one.
Ranked number 6 in the world by Boxrec but yet to mix it with the big boys in the division, the sceptic in me suggests that this fight, and shifting Joshua stateside for it, only benefits DAZN who are still trying to grow their new broadcast model in America.
So if this is the case, what options does that leave for Wembley on April 13th?
Very few fights on this planet will fill 90,000 and at present the options to even try to attempt such a feat seem limited.
Kell Brook v Amir Khan is fast running out of credibility and with Khan set to face Terrence Crawford instead, that won’t be happening any time soon.
Callum Smith is looking for a big name to make his first title defence against, but you’d assume Anfield recently gaining a license for boxing has to be connected to that.
Oleksandr Usyk’s growing dominance of the sport, and move into the heavyweight division would warrant a huge stadium fight. However, to put 90,000 bums on seats you need a large quota of casual bums and the Ukrainian won’t bring them out, yet.
To do that he would need a casual friendly dance partner and at present that probably leaves Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora as the only viable options, and even that wouldn’t scratch the surface of 90,000.
There are rumours that Wladimir Klitschko is looking at making a surprise comeback but its a move that smacks of desperation as they try to save an already desperate set of circumstances.
Add to that the fact that whilst Joshua will be busy preparing himself for an easy nights work in New York, serial bridesmaid Dillian Whyte will be hung out to dry to play the role of panto villain and get under Klitschko’s skin, drive tickets and PPV sales (it’s almost certain to be on Box Office) for a non title fight that has no need to take place let alone happen under the Wembley arch.
The reason Wembley was booked out in advance is two-fold, Joshua should beat Povetkin- he did and Joshua provides the draw that gets casuals and hardcore s alike through the gates in their droves.
If Klitschko v Whyte is the solution that has been found to clean up this mess, then personally I find it appalling.
Nobody truly wants to see it happen, nobody will genuinely believe whatever rivalry narrative is created along the way and you’d hope that fight fans will vote with their feet and stay away, both from ticket and PPV sales.
Photo Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Sport