Longtime HBO Sports president Seth Abraham used to say, “There is boxing and then there is heavyweight boxing.” To him, they were two divides of one sport, the latter carrying much of the weight for boxing’s success.
If so, last week was good for both boxing and heavyweight boxing as the sport’s biggest practitioners were making news, although not by the American who holds one-quarter of the world’s titles, WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
While Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) was quietly preparing for his March 3 appointment with undefeated Cuban challenger Luis Ortiz (28-0, 4 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the big news came out of Britain — where unified IBF-WBA champion Anthony Joshua hinted he was close to closing a deal to face WBO titleholder Joseph Parker.
The undefeated Olympic gold medalist would be a heavy favorite over Parker, and rightfully so. While Wilder and the world would love for his next fight to be one that puts all the belts around one man’s waist, Joshua’s more likely next opponent, if he gets by Parker, is already getting in line, and it will very likely be undefeated former unified champion Tyson Fury.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has told Fury that Joshua would “fight him in a heartbeat,” and claims he’s ready to start negotiating a contract immediately for a fight this summer. But Hearn also cautioned that he is mistrustful of Fury, who has not fought in 21⁄2 years.
That self-inflicted layoff came after Fury’s biggest moment, a stunning upset of then-unified champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. The win left Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) seemingly in command of the division, but he slipped into a drug-induced addled state and lost the belts and two prime years.
But Fury has recently taken to social media to announce he is coming off suspension and ready to reapply for his boxing license. More importantly, he claims he neither wants nor needs a tuneup before facing the most popular champion in British boxing.
It should come as no surprise that the bombastic Fury believes he is ready to step right to Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) despite the long layoff because he has always been more bombastic outside the ring than in it, which is saying something. And saying something is what Fury has proven he does best.
If Fury was impressed by Joshua’s stoppage of Klitschko last April, knocking him into retirement and getting off the floor to do it, he certainly isn’t letting on.
“As a sporting challenge, I lay down the challenge for Anthony Joshua to fight me in my first fight back for two-and-a-half years,” Fury said in a recent tweet storm. “I’m the best heavyweight on the planet. Come prove I’m not. The ball is in your court — don’t let your fans down champ. Let’s rock you big bum.
“I’m that good I don’t need warmups. I can come off the couch and beat up on Anthony Joshua. Don’t run your big ass in the bush. Let’s fight this summer.”
That seems a strong possibility because it would be a huge money fight in the UK that would likely pack 90,000 or more into an outdoor soccer stadium and carry with it less risk than facing Wilder. Joshua proved he has that kind of drawing power last year when he pulled in over 160,000 fans for two fights in the UK — the win over Klitschko at Wembley Stadium, and an assault of little-known Carlos Takem at Principality Stadium in Cardiff in front of nearly 80,000 roaring fans.
If Joshua can do that with Takem, imagine the crowd a fight with Fury would attract? That, and Fury’s long absence and debatable skills, seem two good reasons why Wilder won’t be adding any belts to his wardrobe any time soon. The trick for him is to simply retain the one he’s got until Joshua runs out of other, easier options.
Showtime for Spence
Undefeated IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. is one of boxing’s hottest names, a point he hopes to remind the world on Saturday at the Barclays Center when he makes his first defense of the 147-pound title he won from Kell Brook last year.
Spence will face two-time former champion Lamont Peterson in a bout to be nationally broadcast on Showtime, and he promised last week “it won’t be a boring fight. I’m planning to dominate.”
Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) has a decent resume but has fought only once in the last 26 months. He is not expected to be able to stand up to Spence’s blistering combination of speed and punching accuracy, which is fine with Spence, who understands while the welterweight division has three champions it has no ruler.
“I’m not fighting a regular no-name fighter,” Spence said. “He’s going to bring the best out of me because he’s a true fighter. The top spot in the sport is really up for grabs now and I’m coming for it. I don’t care who I have to face or where, I’m going to be the last man standing. That’s why we all get into this sport. I’m extremely confident in myself.”
He should be. Spence should handle Peterson with relative ease. If he does, he’s hoping to land a unification fight before the end of the year with unified WBA-WBC champion Keith Thurman. What makes that fight possible is both are handled by the sport’s most powerful promoter, Al Haymon.
Khan’s unlikely ally
For some time now, former two-time world champion Amir Khan has sought a match with ex-IBF welterweight champion Brook without coming close to achieving it. Khan has always held promoter Hearn responsible, often the two of them lambasting each other in the British press and on anti-social media. But boxing makes for odd bedfellows and last week they formed two of the oddest when Khan signed a three-fight promotional deal with Hearn and Sky Television. It is designed to culminate in a world title shot and/or a showdown with Brook.
“No one expected me and Eddie to work together,” Khan said. “It’s a bit of a shocker to the world of boxing. But guess what? We’re working together.
Khan’s first fight under Hearn’s banner is April 21 at Echo Arena in Liverpool. He has had an 18-month layoff since being stopped in the sixth round by junior middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez.
That was a money fight in which Khan was stepping up one weight class on paper but two in reality and he simply lacked the power to hurt Alvarez or the strength to hold him off. He’s now back to fighting in the welterweight division and Hearn believes by the end of the contract they will have achieved something together even if they still remain unlikely to go on holiday together.
“He was one of the biggest stars in the world of boxing back when British boxing was booming,” Hearn said at a press conference announcing the contract. “Last time he fought, British boxing was in a good place. Now we’re kings of the world, and the king is back.
“This is a big coup for us. He talked to everybody and chose us. You don’t have to be best friends to do a great job for you. The Kell Brook fight is something everyone (in the UK) wants to see. Some of the barriers are down now.”
The biggest is that Hearn now controls both ends of that bout, meaning regardless of who loses he wins. That’s boxing.
Alvarez tires of wait
Light heavyweight contender Eleider Alvarez withdrew from a purse bid for a vacant interim WBC title Wednesday, apparently tiring of having three times become the mandatory challenger to champion Adonis Stevenson without getting the fight. Alvarez has won three WBC title elimination fights, but has yet to face Stevenson because he has agreed to step aside despite never once being paid for doing so — as is both customary and usually contractually the case. The WBC recently ordered that Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs), who is also with Haymon (and Yvon Michel), could bypass Alvarez again and defend against former world champion Badou Jack (also handled by Haymon), with Alvarez ordered to fight Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the interim title. The winners would then in theory have to face each other. By pulling out, Alvarez probably will be dropped in the ratings but truth be told why would he believed taking another fight with someone other than Stevenson would guarantee him anything?
Alvarez (23-0, 11 KOs) has been the No. 1 challenger for Stevenson since winning a majority decision in a title eliminator against Isaac Chilemba in November 2015. He later won elimination fights against Lucian Bute last February and against Jean Pascal in June but got no closer to Stevenson. The only mandatory defense of the well-connected Stevenson’s four-plus years title reign, during which he has made eight defenses, was when he KO’d Tony Bellew in November 2013. It’s all rather shameful but all sadly typical, too.
Source : http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/columnists/ron_borges/2018/01/borges_anthony_joshua_on_collision_course_with_tyson_fury1586