The Heavyweight Politics
By Oliver McManus
Heavyweight politics and rhetoric has been drip-fed into our bloodstream almost every day since the turn of 2018. To be honest it’s bloody boring. I’m done with it. I don’t really care about the intricacies of purse splits, what broadcaster gets to show the fight or, if I’m honest, where the fight takes place. What I do care about, however, is that the fights take place.
Alas it could never be as simple as that and we find ourselves with Anthony Joshua vs Jarrell Miller, Deontay Wilder vs Dominic Breazeale and Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz.
This article isn’t intended to discuss and dissect who is to blame for the fact we’re left with these inanely underwhelming triangle of contests because, let’s face it, that’s been done to death. Instead let’s just get a big old moan of my chest!
Frustration is often fed in the direction of Anthony Joshua, the man with materialistically the most to lose, with the poster-boy of British boxing starting to see the gloss tarnish significantly. A man who could once do no wrong has hit a bad run of form in terms of PR and media attention – the “AJ commits to Wembley” faux pas an understandable source of frustration.
The talk from Joshua’s camp is that he’ll fight any man but he’s shown signs of fragility as of late. Of course he’s found that magical knockout punch in all of his fights, except against Joseph Parker. He’s got the finish within him but Klitschko showed the blueprint to beat Joshua, up until the 11th round.
His contest against Jarrell Miller smells excruciatingly hypocritical. Having made a song and dance about the fact he didn’t need to go to America and that the big fights would stay in the United Kingdom, suddenly it’s time “to break the American market.”
Miller, mind you, can only be considered a ‘big fight’ if we’re measuring it by literal size. The 20st+ frame of Brooklyn’s biggest baby has walked his way through cherry-picked opponents throughout his career, Bogdan Dinu and Tomasz Adamek his latest victims.
Against Joshua, however, you suspect he’s been vastly overmatched. The raw build of Miller should never be enough to overcome the better all-round ability of Britain’s Olympic champion; there is not any aspect of Joshua in which I think ‘ah, Miller’s got him on this one’. If he’s going to try to crack America, good on him, but at least make it a fight worth getting out of bed for. Big Baby can cry and cry all night long but I shall be fast asleep come the mid-morning of June 1st.
The man who seems most willing to fight anyone, Fury is unfortunate in being the piece of the jigsaw that no-one needs. Lineal champion but without a belt from one of the four governing bodies, the path to legacy and undisputed can swerve neatly around Fury for the time being. It would of course be quite a big swerve, mind.
Marketed recently as ‘The Greatest Showman’ he has some momentum to keep up having shocked the world, all but officially, against Deontay Wilder last December. That particular fight felt like a redemption for the snooze-fests against Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta, the final part of the bargain that we were all hoping for.
Having signed with Top Rank to base himself, for the majority of his fights, in America the PR drive will be strong – ESPN proving to be the best in the business, lately. Notoriously hard to please, you suspect that Fury will have to reproduce the high-jinks drama of the Wilder fight in order to keep the American fan base on side.
Tom Schwarz is the chosen opponent for the first fight of his new contract and whilst it’s not Wilder, as looked to be the case for some time, it does provide Fury with more options. The promise was a top five opponent and the unbeaten German was one of few options not already contracted to a fight. Ranked #2 by the WBO, the assumption is that Fury could be worming his way to the mandatory challenger spot for Anthony Joshua.
The WBO are next to issue a mandatory but, with Oleksandr Usyk, moving up he does have the right to be imposed at #1 if he so wishes – a true game of snakes and ladders.
A $100million three-fight deal with DAZN? However many millions to fight AJ in the United Kingdom? Forget about it, people say loyalty is dead in boxing but Wilder is on a one-man mission to prove those critics wrong. Whether it’s refreshing or foolish, that’s a different question all together.
Nonetheless he is the man with the emerald-green belt bestowed by the WBC. Indeed the oldest world champion both in terms of age, 33, and longevity, having held the title since January 2015. About time, surely, that he started to push on and start staking a claim for legacy as opposed to continue knocking over the American equivalent of tomato cans. Expensive tomato cans, though, like M&S tomato cans.
On a serious note we know the technique of Wilder is unconventional and his power exponential but he’s yet to face anyone, Fury aside, in which we’ve been able to determine just how good he is. Wins against an ageing Luis Ortiz, a dehydrated Bermane Stiverne and Chris “The Nipple” Arreola aren’t exactly the resume of someone seeking to be an all-time great. Fighting in the Legacy Arena does not automatically grant you one, Deontay.
He’ll face Dominic Breazeale on May 18th in a contest that has only came about due to the reluctance of Mauricio Sulaiman’s organization in enforcing mandatories. It really is with Wilder that I find the time is now or never for him to start cementing “greatness”. Joshua has already unified, he’s already produced nights of high drama and, think what you want of this whole fiasco, he’s the biggest draw in British boxing. Fury runs him close and, for me, is the better boxer whilst Wilder is trying to awkwardly orchestrate his own moves on the chess board.
Boxing politics, it’s crazy. Fight each other or don’t but until contract is signed, shut up about it. It’s doing my head in.