(Another guest commentary from England’s David Payne, a.k.a “The Boxing Writer,” that originally appeared on Boxingwriter.co.uk this week. David and all of Britain’s fight fans and media are eager to see, if Anthony Joshua in defense of his three heavyweight belts will make a spectacular debut in the U.S. on Saturday night.)
“The struggle is my life.”
Nelson Mandela (written in 1961)
Accepted wisdom proposes that heavyweight boxing is in rude health. The simultaneous primes of Deontay Wilder, the WBC’S champion, Anthony Joshua, recognised by the WBO, IBF and WBA and Tyson Fury, the somewhat contested custodian of the lineal championship offer the promise of a new golden age.
Were there a PowerPoint presentation to pitch this notion to investors, it would suggest, repeatedly, that Heavyweight boxing is stronger now than it has been at any other point in the past 20 years.
Graphs, pie charts and slick video clips of vast crowds and packed football stadiums would be used to convince the doubting audience. And boxing wouldn’t be short of salesman capable of taking up this thread, but as a summary of the sport’s blue ribbon division, it does host an obvious omission.
The distinguishing feature between this would-be golden age and it’s supposedly exemplary predecessors of Holyfield, Lewis and Tyson, is the lack of fights between the three ‘kings’. The absence of these fights is indicative of the multiple sanctioning body era and the bunker mentality that engulfs those busily over-protecting their fighters. Unwittingly, it also reveals a lack of precision in our own collective nostalgia too.
After all, there were caveats to all of the fights between Lennox Lewis and his contemporaries and both he and Tyson never tangled with Riddick Bowe, the fourth leg of the famous 1990’s foursome. But I digress.
Regardless of the slight revisionism about mess’s Holyfield, Tyson, Lewis and Bowe contained in the popular comparison, there is no escaping the bitter reality of today; Fury, Wilder and Joshua simply aren’t fighting each other.
When Anthony Joshua defends his belts against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden on 1 June, much of the focus and pre-amble, will be on the bout beyond this one, the fight not yet made. And cynics might heckle; ‘you mean the bout beyond the bout beyond this one‘. For there is little certainty attached to the notion Joshua and Wilder, or Wilder and Fury, the most potent pairings, will face each other later this year.
A meeting with WBC champion Wilder would provide Joshua….