Connect with us

Search For R-E-S-P-E-C-T After Usyk-Joshua Sequel

Search For R-E-S-P-E-C-T After Usyk-Joshua Sequel
Mark Robinson- Matchroom Boxing UK

Boxing News

Search For R-E-S-P-E-C-T After Usyk-Joshua Sequel

(This item originally appeared in the aftermath of Usyk-Joshua on David’s site

As I glared at the blank screen before me, thoughts on Oleksandr Usyk’s triumph over Anthony Joshua still swirling. Theories, meaning, the rumination of others flitting in and out of view and ear shot. The starkness of the victory I had seen, the troubling thread of doubt dangled by one or two who’d witnessed a closer fight weaving through my mind. Happen-chance and necessity led me to a live BBC concert from the Royal Albert Hall. An exceptionally gifted singer, Shelea, was shaking the old dome to its foundations.

Performing in the long shadow cast by Aretha Franklin. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

She sounded uninhibited, undeterred by the shoes in which she trod.

Empowered by the responsibility.

Emboldened by the audience before her.

It struck me that the quest for the respect of others, of history, of his rivals, of those who would take what he had, of the street life he hoped never to disgrace but eternally escape, of being validated by wealth, influence has been a constant in Anthony Joshua’s professional career. A weighty burden too.

Maybe this it is the truth that lays beneath the ‘Stay Humble’ he preached. A yearning that lost the sincerity it craved as the years went by and why, in the pain of his third loss in five, so much emotion, so many questions and attempts at justification poured forth.

In those craziest of minutes after the fight, as Joshua first threw the belts over the top rope, the one’s Usyk won almost a year ago lest we forget, then strode around the ring with a microphone nobody should’ve allowed him to take, whatever the personal cost when a former heavyweight champion wants the microphone may prove to be.

HBO’s Larry Merchant would’ve kicked his ass one might wonder.

In those troubling moments, the difference between the two protagonists was almost as stark as it had been in the 24 rounds they had shared.

Usyk, victory secured, remained close to motionless. Understanding the moment. Weary. But controlled. Moving only to remove his national flag from Joshua’s shoulders. Stoic. Certain. Deliberate. The wise uncle watching a noisy nephew separated from his toys.

Joshua looked into the darkness beyond the apron strings into his own madness and toward life in either the alternative reality of contendership; a sphere he barely inhabited before the chance to feast on Charles Martin and become IBF Champion was gleefully snatched in 2016, or the boredom of life as a ‘business-partner’, to men of sharper claw, and stronger wit.

Given the choice, Joshua may opt for familiarity – the world of juggernauts, big bangs and bombers that will offer him potential for renewal, ever more wealth and, whisper it, the risk of career ending defeat. If the indifference Joshua feels when he begins camp to fight someone he’s expected to beat, but may not, doesn’t get him before they do.

Anthony Joshua has earned more money than almost every heavyweight that came before him. He is 32. There are many who feel he is still improving. I don’t share that optimism. There are many millions who would pay to watch him fight Deontay Wilder.

Plenty too, who would love to see Joshua v Joyce or a rematch with London rival Dillian Whyte.

With them, I will gleefully stand.

If he chooses to box on, he will have my respect because at least two of those listed contain more risk than Joshua may be able to deal with at this point despite the words of those who saw improvement on Saturday. Should he take the most courageous step of all, and retire. He will have my respect too. For all he has done and for taking the Usyk fight and the rematch too.

There is an assumption however, that the pursuit of respect, whether his own, or the shallower validation of others, will see him dip between the ropes again.

Sooner rather than later.

I hope he possesses Usyk’s certainty when he does and affords his opponent, and the moment, more respect than he showed late on Saturday night.

Continue Reading

David has been writing about boxing, sport’s oldest showgirl, for almost twenty years. Appearing as a columnist and reporter across print and digital as well as guest appearances with LoveSportRadio and LBC in the UK and, of course, The Big Fight Weekend podcast. Find his unique take on the boxing business here and at his site;

More in Boxing News

To Top