Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Anthony Joshua, the man of the moment in boxing

With three undefeated world heavyweight champions in Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker - and clear demand from boxing's fans to see an undisputed champion - it ought to be a simple process to create a frenzy of huge fights in 2018. 
But it never is. Rival promoters, opposing broadcast deals, and rows over the money expected to be generated has created a complex algorithm behind the scenes for the various parties involved. 
They are deep in talks, and Telegraph Sport understands Sky Box Office, Joshua's television partners in the UK, are keen on New Zealander Parker being the British star's next opponent in 2018.    
In the last two weeks, Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, has been in talks in the USA with the teams of the WBC champion Wilder, and WBO champion Parker.Joshua holds the IBF and WBA titles, with a WBA mandatory challenger looming in Alexander Ustinov which could be ordered by the sanctioning bodies. Ustinov could yet be Joshua's next opponent in March, though Hearn told Telegraph Sport that "AJ wants Parker next".
"Wherever he goes, AJ has the whole world asking him when he will fight Parker and Wilder and unify the heavyweight division," explained Hearn. "We are still optimistic of making the Wilder fight in 2018," added Hearn, who had talks with Wilder's lawyer Shelley Finkel in the United States last week. 
Joseph parker weighs in
Joseph Parker's camp believes Parker would win a fight against AJ Credit: GETTY IMAGES
"We believe the fight makes as much money in the UK, as it would in the USA, with the gate and pay per view. At present, we have one more fight on our Showtime deal in the USA but then we will go on the open market. AJ also wants the Wilder fight next year."  
Wilder is Joshua's most dangerous rival though - 39 wins, 38 knockouts to Joshua's 20 wins, twenty stoppages -  but Hearn and Joshua can steer clear of the American for a year if they feel they need to. Wilder, in fact, does not command a huge audience in his own country, unlike Joshua, who has a crossover appeal. That gives Joshua, the dual belt holder, the upper hand in all negotiations. 
Although Wilder and Joshua are both signed for Showtime, Joshua could soon end up with a deal matched by HBO. Hearn intends to leverage HBO and Showtime against each other.  
If Hearn does switch Joshua to HBO, it could scupper a Wilder fight in the summer. There is a decent chance of that. Hearn has recently set up Matchroom Boxing USA, in a deal with HBO, which had its debut show last Saturday, in Long Island, New York. The co-feature was another unbeaten heavyweight, Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller, who defeated veteran former title challenger Mariusz Wach. 
Jarrell Miller punches Mariusz Wach during their Heavyweight bout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Jarrell Miller punches Mariusz Wach during their Heavyweight bout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Miller, ranked five by the IBF and WBO sanctioning bodies and No 7 by the WBA, gave a withering assessment of the division this week, revealing that he had also had talks with Hearn last week. "We talked about what the future holds and some ideas. He's really adamant that you have to look good against Mariusz Wach to sell a fight against AJ.  I said I don't care what Eddie Hearn has to say, it's about getting the win. We all know that Mariusz Wach is a tall order. Get the win by any means necessary. If you want to look pretty, you're in the wrong sport."
"I'm ready for a title fight now. Who did Deontay Wilder fight before he fought Bermane Stiverne? Nobody in the top ten I can remember. Who did AJ fight before he fought Charles Martin for a world title? Dillian Whyte? He wasn't in the top ten. They do what they want based on what's going to raise their stock." 
Miller also urged caution with Joshua's weight, 18st. "You can tell Deontay is a naturally strong guy. When he was an amateur, he was only 200 and as a pro he's only 220 pounds. AJ laughed when he found out Wilder was only 227 pounds. But Deontay is knocking people out cold. 
"Joshua's looking at the muscle and the size. He feels that muscle wins fights. We all know he has a glass chin. He's been dropped numerous times as a pro and in sparring and in the amateur. When he gets in there with a monster like me, someone who has overcome so much and never been dropped or hurt, I am going to crush him. It doesn't matter how many protein drinks he drinks or how much muscle he puts on, or whatever amino acid he thinks he's taking, I'm going to bust his behind."
But it is David Higgins, Parker's promoter, who gave perhaps the clearest indication of where Joshua goes next. "It's a wonderful era for heavyweight boxing," Higgins, a New Zealander, said. "There are many contenders and champions evenly matched. We're going to see a period of close and exciting fights and rematches and hopefully unification and one champion rising to the top."
"Joshua, Wilder, Parker, Tyson, they genuinely want to fight each other. The promoters have a part to play. My view is everyone should just be fair. Our initial offer was quite a lot less than several other opponents Joshua has fought. We had an offer that was around half of what Charles Martin was paid and we just thought that didn't respect Joseph's achievement.
"Their camp has signalled they are willing to talk and might do a better deal. That's positive. Secondly, on whether they are trying to keep Parker at bay, that's possible. We think Parker beats Joshua. We don't think it's an easy fight, it's probably a 50/50 fight, but we think Parker wins simply because he has a better chin. When the fight is on is up to Eddie Hearn and Joshua. We'd take it next. But we won't take it until the deal is fair." 
And that is where the heavyweight division sits. It could all come to a head in the next ten days to a fortnight.

No comments:

Post a Comment