Category Archives: Blog

August 20, 2018
August 20, 2018
Carl Frampton

Action Images/Lee Smith

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IT is great to see boxing flourishing again in Belfast. Interim WBO featherweight titlist Carl Frampton is germane to the popularity of boxing in the Northern Irish capital. The real WBO champion, Oscar Valdez, is still recovering from injury and has said it will be early 2019 before he is ready to return. Josh Warrington is the IBF champ, and him against Frampton would be a huge all-British fight. The ranks of the WBO featherweights are a bit threadbare, with Filipino Mark Magsayo, Namibian Sakaria Lukas, another Filipino Genesis Servania and Ukrainian Oleg Malynovskyi filling positions one to four. Good fighters but not exactly star names. You can be sure there is a plan in place for Frampton.

– OF course, Tyson Fury was also on the big Belfast bill at the weekend. A fight between him and Deontay Wilder would be big wherever it is held. I hope the winner goes on to fight Anthony Joshua in 2019 in the richest world heavyweight title fight in the history of boxing, with each boxer probably getting around $50m each. To think the great Joe Louis’ biggest purse was $626,000!

Tyson Fury

– IT is great to see the heavyweight division right up there in the interest stakes. I thought I might have a look at some of the things going on in the heavyweights right now… How ridiculous can you get? Joshua is fighting Alexander Povetkin on September 22 for the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. The WBA ordered Joshua to fight their No. 1 Povetkin. Since Povetkin is also the No. 1 with the WBO and there is no mandatory IBF challenger, if Joshua beats Povetkin you would think he has fulfilled his mandatory requirements, wouldn’t you? Think again! The WBO have said that if Joshua beats Povetkin they may then want him to fight against another one of their fighters, effectively ordering another mandatory defence. He may not want to but I can see Joshua being forced to relinquish one of his three belts as the sanctioning bodies are never happy sharing titles… The IBF eliminator to fill the mandatory spot in their heavyweight ratings between Kubrat Pulev and Hughie Fury has landed in Sofia, Bulgaria on October 27… The one-year suspension handed out to French heavyweight Tony Yoka for missing three drug test appointments stands. It had been appealed but the appeal was rejected… Charles Martin has his eyes on another shot at the world heavyweight title. He lost the IBF belt when he was knocked out in two rounds by Joshua in 2016. He had a couple of low-level wins last year, with the latest coming in July. He returns from a 13-month layoff against the 17-0 Adam Kownacki on September 8 on the undercard of Danny Garcia versus Shawn Porter in New York… The old saying that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time was proved true with regards to the fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores for the vacant Interim WBA heavyweight bauble. Not one single TV company showed interest, which must be a first for any version of the ‘heavyweight title’… Next up, Manuel Charr versus Fres Oquendo for Charr’s spurious secondary WBA heavy strap. I did hear that some 14-year-old kid was offered the exclusive rights to show it on his smart phone, but he declined as they WBA did not offer him enough. Sounds like a smart kid… Two of Canada’s top heavyweights will clash in Quebec City on October 6 when Simon Kean faces Dillon Carmon… The WBO heavyweight ratings are a joke. The principle behind ratings is supposed to be to rank the best fighters based on the quality of their performances and the opposition they have beaten. That reasoning seems foreign to the WBO. They rate a fighter much higher for winning one of their myriad of joke regional titles than for beating quality opposition. Their No. 4 is Tom Schwarz, a good German prospect who has never faced a rated opponent but has won their Inter-Continental belt. Their No. 7 is Kyotaro Fujimoto, who is their Asia Pacific champion. No. 10 Tyrone Spong, is Latino champion. The list goes on. The scary things is that anyone in the WBO top 15 is automatically eligible to be a challenger to Joshua, but if Eddie Hearn even thought of matching any of these guys with “AJ” they would cart him to the funny farm. To be fair, occasionally all sanctioning bodies play this game to some extent.

– ENOUGH of the heavyweights for now. Oleksandr Usyk versus Tony Bellew is one to savour. There are talks going on but as he showed when winning the WBSS tournament, Usyk has no problem fighting in the other guy’s backyard, so it seem a doable fight to me. Let’s hope so.

– STICKING with the cruisers, Denis Lebedev is set to face Hinzi Altunkaya in Chelyabinsk, Russia on September 7. Even the heavyweights are in less of a mess. The WBA have a ‘Super’ champion in Usyk. A secondary champion in Beibut Shumenov and an Interim champion in Arsen Goulamirian. Now their ‘champion in recess’ has climbed out of the cupboard there is no title left for him. Perhaps they could make him the secondary ‘Super’ champion, or the secondary secondary champion, or the Interim Interim champion!

– THE fight for the vacant IBF middleweight title between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko is finally set for October 27. It had been put back to November 10 to allow further negotiations between promoters Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella, but they came to a private deal and it was changed to the original date.

BOXING NEWS recently did a piece on an unlicensed show in Aberdeen featuring former WBC heavyweight title challenger Danny Williams, famous for knocking out Mike Tyson 14 years ago, and local fighter Lee McAllister, a former Commonwealth champion at lightweight and super-lightweight. The ‘unlicensed’ tag within the British boxing terminology means that it was not under the control of the BBBofC, who would never have countenanced this. Williams was licensed by the Czech Republic, the fight was for the WBO (German version) heavyweight title and ‘commissioned’ by the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA). Again, nothing to do with the BBBofC. I won’t even bother mentioning the result of this ‘fight’. Suffice to say that the 45-year-old Williams weighed 260lbs and McAllister was said to be four stone (56lbs) lighter (204lbs). The last registered weight for McAllister when fighting with a BBBofC licence was a career-heavy 146lbs, which meant he was carrying an additional 58lbs into this fight. Since he had not grown another leg, the additional weight was mainly around his waist. Naturally the fight drew a storm of fully justified scorn and criticism.

– JAIME MUNGUIA is a busy man. His next fight is reported to be a WBO super-welter title defence against Canadian Brandon Cook on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez II. The card will also feature Roman Gonzalez against Moises Fuentes. Gary O’Sullivan is scheduled to box on the show, too. One rumour is that he might be up against David Lemieux, which would be a great fight if it happens.

– JOSE RAMIREZ’S defence of his WBC super-light title in Fresno on September 14 has an interesting undercard building, with Maxim Dadashev versus Antonio DeMarco. With so many super-lights tied into the WBSS, it might be a chance for the winner of that undercard bout to land a world title fight.

– YOU win some, you lose some. That could almost describe recent purse bids and Top Rank. They won the bidding for Maurice Hooker’s defence of his WBO super-light title against their fighter, Alex Saucedo. Top Rank’s bid beat Matchroom’s, and it looks like it will go on in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s home base, on November 16 or 17. The second case was much more complicated over the bidding for Ryota Murata’s defence of the secondary WBA middleweight strap against Rob Brant. I guess my lead in is not quite correct, as you can’t lose if you never entered the race. There was only one bid for the fight, from Greg Cohen, as neither Top Rank nor Japan’s Akihiro Honda offer a bid. For some reason of their own, the WBA had decided that the purse would be split 50-50, which did not help the situation. Top Rank and Honda both saw it as a stupid move by the WBA in calling for bids for a fight against Brant, which was of no interest and dubious validity, and Top Rank and Honda had already agreed between themselves to put Murata on a show in Las Vegas on October 20 in a big fight against unbeaten Top Rank fighter Jason Quigley. This would be a much better fight that could lead to a clash with the winner of Golovkin and Alvarez. The WBA are in a mess. If they don’t honour the bid process you can be sure Cohen will sue, and if they strip Murata they lose a sanctioning fee and incur the wrath of two of the most powerful promoters in the business. Cohen has already said he is aiming to put on the Murata-Brant fight on October 27. We await further developments.

– MARCOS MAIDANA has launched a new promoting outfit down in Argentina. Its name is 31KO Sudamerican Boxing, and 31 just happens to be the number of fights Maidana won by KO or stoppage.

– YET another new promoter has appeared as 19-year-old lightweight Devin Haney has formed his own promotion company, making him probably the youngest promoter in boxing history. He will face Juan Carlos Burgos in Temecula on September 28.

– GAVIN McDONNELL will get another world title shot when he challenges Daniel Roman in Chicago on October 6 for the WBA super-bantam title. McDonnell lost a majority decision to Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC belt in February last year, but has rebounded well with impressive wins over Gamal Yafai and Stuart Hall.

August 18, 2018
August 18, 2018
Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury

Action Images/Lee Smith

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CHANCES are, Billy Joe Saunders decided against interrupting Francesco Pianeta’s Friday night meal because the Italian, like the fight for which he is in Belfast, was totally irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Resisting the urge to toss handfuls of spaghetti, Saunders aimed higher. He turned up at a Belfast Nando’s, confronted Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion who looms larger than Pianeta this weekend, and proceeded to chuck chicken and condiments, all in the name of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury (even if Saunders didn’t realise), before fleeing the scene.

“It’s all fun, baby,” Wilder, 32, would say the following day, when reunited with Saunders at Windsor Park. “It’s good to promote a fight and I’m happy to be here. This is what it’s all about. It’s all good for the promotion. It’s all good for the fans.”

Pianeta, the forgotten man, was only ever an inconvenience. He knew it, too.

When, for instance, he asked Fury, tonight’s opponent, for a selfie at Friday’s weigh-in, it wasn’t because he keeps a photo album of his many adventures in boxing and required a memento from pro fight 41. It was because he looked up to Fury, felt privileged to be in his company, and wanted to return home with a postcard, a reminder of the time he got beaten up for a purse by a six-foot-nine traveller in Ireland.

Tyson Fury

Tomorrow, he’ll be gone. Like the friend at the party whose presence was ignored, Pianeta’s exit will be greeted with a sigh of relief, a question – who invited him in the first place? – and the promise of imminent fun. Because now, with comeback fight number two out of the way, Fury and Wilder, set to meet in November or December, can crank their shtick up to eleven without any fear of someone (Pianeta) or something (a defeat, an injury, a cut) derailing what has been an unusually smooth courting period.

Smooth for a number of reasons. Mostly smooth, though, because Wilder and Fury share a goal to leave Anthony Joshua, the current WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion, high and dry. Pride, ego and stubbornness, typically obstacles when it comes to making a fight, will fall away when there’s a common desire to upset a third party, and this has proven the case with Wilder vs. Fury, a matchup nobody would have dared mention in June, when Fury was playing around with 39-year-old Albanian Sefer Seferi for four rounds.

Tyson Fury

Well, now, according to Frank Warren (Fury’s promoter), it’s happening.

It’s happening because Wilder didn’t get the Joshua fight, and might not get it for some time, it’s happening because Fury, self-proclaimed fighting man, is eager to make up for lost time (or, more likely, make back all the money he lost out on during a two-and-a-half year absence from the sport), and it’s happening because the pair’s entrepreneurial, troublemaking spirit allows them to ignore the big franchise in the heavyweight division and make cash down one of its back alleys.

Anthony Joshua, the franchise in question, is a well-oiled machine, far and away the most marketable fighter in the division. Yet, for as long as he has only three of the four recognised world titles, and for as long as larger-than-life characters like Fury and Wilder exist, his hold on the division will be tenuous, the interest split.

Wilder hits harder than him, shouts louder than him, and is accessible in ways Joshua isn’t. Fury, meanwhile, defeated Wladimir Klitschko long before it was fashionable to defeat Wladimir Klitschko, and continues to tell anyone who will listen that he’s the lineal heavyweight champion of the world.

This, misguided or otherwise, amounts to leverage and power, and gives Wilder and Fury the conviction to go it alone and not rely on Anthony Joshua to make all their financial dreams come true.

Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder

Admittedly, the operation won’t be pretty or slick. Nor will it capture the imagination of the general public the way either of them boxing Joshua would. But what cannot be denied is this: Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury for the WBC world heavyweight title, whether happening too soon or not, means something, fascinates, and is compelling enough to render Joshua’s September 22 fight against Alexander Povetkin, the one with three belts, a mere heavyweight footnote in the second half of 2018.

That’s why we’re impatient for it. It’s why we ignored Francesco Pianeta all week in Belfast, and Billy Joe Saunders left him alone last night. It’s why we prayed for the Italian’s downfall at around nine o’clock this evening. It’s why, ultimately, scores of Belfast fight fans stalked Fury and Wilder wherever they roamed, witnessed them trading verbals in a hotel, and will tonight rock themselves to sleep imagining what happens when the two unbeaten heavyweights share a ring later this year.


Impatience. It’s what brings Wilder and Fury together. It’s also what makes their fight so hard to call.

In keeping with the pre-fight shenanigans, the eventual fight will be dramatic and fascinating, replete with momentum shifts, flailing limbs and awkward movement. This much we know. The winner, however, is tougher to call.

Wilder, the safer bet, is buoyed by the best win of his career – a tenth round stoppage of avoided Cuban Luis Ortiz – and proved all that needed proving in the process of securing it. He lost rounds, he was hurt, he was nearly stopped, and he looked, at times, all out of ideas. But then, in the blink of an eye, he wasn’t losing, he wasn’t hurt, and he wasn’t clueless. Instead, it was Ortiz, cracked just once, who suddenly appeared out of his depth and in need of a way out.

Wilder, we now realise, has an unwavering belief in his punch power that makes him both dangerous and vulnerable. It means he will overcommit at times, get tangled up, look messy, and this will perhaps one day lead to his demise. But if he hits you, style and technique, the manner in which he knocks you out, means very little. It’s the result that counts.

deontay wilder

Fury, on the other hand, has always been a fine talent, a man whose movement, composure and all-round skill-set belie the fact he’s six-nine and eighteen stone. Those who share a ring with him talk in glowing terms about his variety, his engine and his jab, and Wladimir Klitschko, the champion Fury dethroned in November 2015, would talk in similar terms if his defeat to Fury hadn’t been so demoralising.

The problem is, by the time he fights Wilder, that breakout performance will have been three years ago. Worse, in that time, he will have boxed only Sefer Seferi (four rounds) and Francesco Pianeta (ten rounds).

To ignore this detail, or presume Fury is somehow immune to inactivity, ring rust or a lack of decent competition, is to overlook the thing that often decides close fights and, moreover, discard the very excuse offered for opponents like Seferi and Pianeta in the first place. Fury, after all, fought those fall guys not because he enjoys easy fights and easy wins, but because he wasn’t yet ready for tough ones. We were told this. It was made clear. “Be patient,” was the line.

So, while Fury, 27-0 (19), might have the size, temperament and talent to beat Wilder, 40-0 (39), maybe even make him look silly and teach him a lesson, it will take a brave person to pick him on the limited post-Klitschko evidence available. We know he was once good enough; we don’t know if he’s still good enough.

Believers will remind you of the ease with which Fury defused Wladimir Klitschko’s power in Dusseldorf, and persuade you he’ll do similar to Wilder, but that’s the kind of skewed logic that never really works in boxing. It’s true, of course, that Fury, 30, shut the Ukrainian down. But it’s true, equally, that Wladimir Klitschko’s refusal to take chances and pull the trigger was as much a deciding factor as Deontay Wilder’s eagerness to do both could be in November or December.  

Wanting to be sure, wanting to feel safe, Klitschko waited. He then waited some more. Yet Fury’s size and style introduced anxiety to the mind of a man who had long taken the feeling of being comfortable for granted; who always had his opponent within arm’s reach; who never had to punch up, much less take a risk. Alas, he didn’t let loose.

tyson fury

Deontay Wilder, in stark contrast, doesn’t think like that. Doesn’t do much thinking, full stop. Reckless and unruly, he punches when it’s time to punch (read: when gloves are on his hands), he pulls the trigger, even when the chamber’s empty, and he backs himself to land something, somehow, anywhere, knowing that should this happen, should his fist so much as glance the head of another human being, there’s a very good chance he ends up standing over them.

This approach makes Wilder dangerous. It makes him the favourite to beat Tyson Fury. And it certainly makes him the antithesis to Wladimir Klitschko.

Ask yourself: had Wladimir Klitschko last night been accosted by Billy Joe Saunders in a Belfast Nando’s, and then subjected to a torrent of flying chicken legs and peri-peri sauce bottles, how would the great Ukrainian have reacted?

I’ll tell you how. He’d have used a serviette to wipe himself down, he’d have had Bernd Bonte and anyone else in a red Hugo Boss tracksuit clean up the mess, and he would have generously offered to reimburse every one of the diners whose evening meal had been interrupted.

Billy Joe wouldn’t have even needed to run. He could have walked out of there.

August 18, 2018
August 18, 2018
Tyson Fury

Action Images/REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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CARL FRAMPTON will realise a dream when he boxes in front of his home fans at Windsor Park stadium. With an Interim WBO featherweight title on the line, he fights Australia’s Luke Jackson.

In only his sixth professional fight, Paddy Barnes will challenge for the WBC flyweight title, taking on Cristopher Rosales.

Former heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury will be in action, fighting Francesco Pianeta, as reigning WBC champion Deontay Wilder looks on.

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August 15, 2018
August 15, 2018
Tyson Fury

Action Images/Lee Smith

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“THE old Tyson Fury is gone. The Tyson Fury from three years ago and beyond is finished. Let’s face it, we all move forward in life with age and experiences and I’m not looking to dwell on the past. I’m looking to live for today and improve on who I am tomorrow. The new Tyson Fury is here now and my promise is to put on a good fight. Whether that’s better or worse than the old Tyson Fury, we’ll find out on Saturday night.

“What you’re likely to see from me on Saturday is a heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard. Anything less is a failure.

“I do want to win a world title again so I have to raise my game. I’ve been out of the ring for three years nearly. It’s an uphill battle to lose the weight I’ve lost. It’s been challenging and a long, hard battle to get back to where I am.

“I study my heavyweights and I know Francesco Pianeta has fought some very good men. He had a very good winning spree, he was 28-0 when he fought Klitschko. I’m not underestimating Francesco. I know he’s a very big, strong fellow and he knows if he wins this fight then he can go on to fight (Deontay) Wilder instead of me. It’s all to play for.

“In heavyweight boxing, if you take your eye off the goal for ten seconds you’re out of there. I know what to expect, I expect him to bring his ‘A game’ and he’s going to try to knock me out because that’s what they all do. Hopefully, he’s not successful and we put on a great show and entertain the fans.

“If I come through this, then Wilder has a chance to fight me for the lineal championship. I’m not the one who gets the chance to fight him. Let’s face it, he hasn’t really fought anybody. He has 40 fights and it is what it is. We’re not here to talk about Wilder at all. It may as well be a million years in the future, I’ve got to concentrate on this man in front of me. I’m sure he wants to take my glory away from me.

“I’ve made all the right sacrifices. I trained really well, ate right, slept well and I had four or five sparring partners that were all southpaws. If I do what I think I can do, then I’ll impress, put on a good show and win the fight. If I don’t do what I think I can do, then I’ll get chinned in about ten seconds and it will be, ‘See you later Tyson Fury and hello Francesco Pianeta.’

“Southpaws are a lot more awkward because there’s less of them in the division. You don’t get too much work with southpaws other than when you’re fighting with them. It’s hard to get southpaws to spar in training because there aren’t many heavyweight southpaws around the world. But I do have one interesting fact, every southpaw amateur or professional I’ve ever faced I’ve knocked out. That’s not good for Francesco.

Tyson Fury

“To be a two-time heavyweight champion is all right. It’s not great because there’s been plenty. To be a three-time heavyweight champion, it’s been done before. So I think I want to set a precedent of being a five-time heavyweight champion without losing a fight. That’s my goal. I always aim for the stars and set big targets.

“If I can beat Francesco Pianeta on Saturday night, I’ve beaten another boxer. Big deal. But if he beats me, he’s going on to something very big. It would be life-changing for him. It I can’t beat Francesco, then I’m going nowhere.

“I think I’m the greatest heavyweight that’s ever been born, so I should handle Francesco Pianeta. And whoever else is out there, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, all the bums out there.

“It’s very easy to win all the belts back. I’ve only got to beat two bums, basically. Wilder and Joshua and that’s it. They both haven’t got a brain cell between them so it shouldn’t be too hard for a great boxer like myself.”

August 8, 2018
August 8, 2018
prospect

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IT’S great to see British boxing well and truly on the map. With Anthony Joshua dominating the heavyweight division and Tyson Fury looking to knock back on the door, the world is standing up and looking on in awe at our fighters.

My pal, Liam Smith, put in a brave performance against the tough Jaime Munguia and George Groves vs Callum Smith in the World Boxing Super Series final is going to be a cracker, showing our guys are challenging throughout the divisions. Kell Brook and James Degale are two more on a list that could go on and on.

And that’s why it’s awesome to see my home region finally start to stand up and be noticed. Lewis Ritson and Josh Kelly are already headlining sell-out shows at Newcastle’s Metro Arena with Eddie Hearn excited at the idea of a stadium fight down the line; whether that’d be the Stadium of Light or St James’ Park would depend on the fighter! I know first-hand how amazing the north east crowd is and I’m excited for the world to see this.

Also helping this happen is the arrival of MTK. It’s great to hear that MTK, with the likes of Billy Joe Saunders and Carl Frampton on their books, has opened up a base in Newcastle. MTK Newcastle focuses on MMA too, but their boxing stable is an exciting one with Kyle Redfearn’s style supposedly a crowd-pleaser and gym manager Brad Tarren and the boys look to have put an amazing facility together. It can only be a positive for the region that they’ve chosen to have a branch up here and we will surely go from strength to strength.

The local promoters are doing a great job in keeping the boxing scene going at a lower level too and it’s great to see their hard work, as well as the fighters’, isn’t going unnoticed.

It’s surely only a matter of time before we have another long-awaited world champion and I’ll be proudly watching on from across the Pond.

Tony Jeffries will be running a Box N Burn Academy course in Sheffield later this month. For more information click HERE

August 6, 2018
August 6, 2018
anthony joshua

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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THE parking fine with the accompanying late fee arrived in the mail. It had me baffled since I had not seen a ticket left on my car in the first place. I traced the date and time to when I was attending a Boxing Writers Association of America’s awards banquet.

That evening I paid to have my car parked in a busy Manhattan lot. I handed the keys to the parking attendant. From what I could later surmise, the attendant in trying to clear space had temporarily moved my car back onto the street where it was then ticketed by the police. Rather than take responsibility and do the decent thing by informing me of their error and paying me the cost of the fine, the ticket was removed meaning I would have no knowledge of receiving it until much later.

Because I had kept my parking stub and receipt, I was sure the ticket would get dismissed when I presented it to the judge along with my not guilty plea. “As you can see, it was not my fault,” I argued. The judge agreed, then upheld the verdict. Her premise was simple, that I had authorised the parking lot to be in charge of my car that evening and because of that was responsible for how they mishandled it. Which brings us to Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and the unacceptable delay in them signing to meet.

Everyone assumes that it is inevitable they will fight the other, probably sometime in 2019, but don’t be too sure. We have been down this road before with an American and British boxer who clearly had separated themselves from the rest of the heavyweight pack, but never did meet as professionals. In that case it was Lennox Lewis desperately trying to entice Riddick Bowe into the ring, willing to take money well below his market value to make the match happen. Bowe, who was completely subservient to his manager Rock Newman’s wishes, talked big such as Joshua is now doing with Wilder, but never held firm and demanded it take place. Newman understanding the threat that Lewis represented went so far as to have Bowe rescind his WBC belt and throw it in the trash can when the sanctioning body made Lennox the mandatory. What was intended as an act of defiance was in reality one of cowardice. Lewis continued to chase Bowe with no success.

History is repeating itself once again with Joshua and Wilder holding the heavyweight division hostage. However, this time it is the American hounding the British star who has given complete authority to his promoter and de facto manager Eddie Hearn to call the shots for him. There are a few small differences though.

For one, Bowe and Lewis had previously met in a high profile fight when they fought in the super-heavyweight gold medal match in the 1988 Olympics. Lewis prevailed by stoppage. Bowe would have had his ultimate chance for revenge had he fought Lewis with the heavyweight title on the line, but Newman’s influence was greater than Riddick’s pride.

Secondly, Bowe was in a more enviable position to be called heavyweight champion than Joshua and Wilder are. Although opinion was split who the better fighter was, Bowe’s championship claim was clearly stronger, having won it in the ring by defeating the linear ruler Evander Holyfield long before Lewis had ever fought him.

Lewis participated in big fights in England, notably against Razor Ruddock and Frank Bruno, but during that era the nature of the business was not quite what it is today. Joshua can make astronomical sums by staying at home. Certainly you can’t fault Hearn for trying to milk that for as long as he can with opponents posing a substantially less risk than Wilder. The Alabama heavyweight lacks the level of support in the United States that Joshua enjoys in England.

And that is the biggest argument that Hearn presents in putting off a Wilder fight, saying his man brings more to the table financially. On that point Hearn is absolutely right, but it is utterly distasteful when he grandstands by saying Wilder does not want to really box Joshua. If that were the case Team Wilder would not have put a guaranteed $50 million offer on the table with an additional percentage if Joshua boxed their man in Las Vegas. Hearn countered with a two fight deal for Wilder, first a match with his mandatory WBC challenger Dominic Breazeale for five million, or a match against Dillian White for approximately seven and a half million. Wilder would also be free to pick the location of the contests.

Hearn’s offer is more than fair for those fights, but Wilder would be obligated to box on the new streaming network he has set up. Because Wilder has been a staple of the Showtime network he understandably is remaining loyal to them.

History tells us that an event of the magnitude of a Joshua-Wilder fight is so lucrative that the pie is big enough for everyone to get a nice slice. Joshua-Wilder would inarguably be a blockbuster event, pairing two big punchers with perfect records fighting for the undisputed world heavyweight championship. Add in their charismatic personalities and ability to sell a fight, and you are talking about a massive amount of revenue it would garner. Just between the fighters themselves there could be somewhere in the $100 million range to be split if not substantially more.

Fans are often naïve. They are told what Wilder has earned in past fights, then are informed by Hearn what he is offering and feel it should be accepted.  Considering Wilder’s contribution to such an event, he would be selling himself short if he took Hearn’s offer. Working off of a percentage comparable to what Joseph Parker did with Joshua (a reported 62 ½% -37 ½% split) would make much more sense. That would more than double Wilder’s take over the 15 million Hearn has proposed. Hearn has offered a flat fee which would probably end up being in the 10-15% range for Wilder when all was said and done.

The Joshua camp reportedly has been insistent that a Wilder match would have to be fought in England.  Wilder would probably accommodate them if necessary, but ideally would like the fight to be in Las Vegas. Traditionally fighters who want home advantage are willing to offer their opponent a little more money to do so. That was how promoter Frank Warren got Kostya Tszyu to come to England to defend his title against Ricky Hatton.

Anthony Joshua v Deontay Wilder

After defeating Wladimir Klitschko in such dramatic fashion, Joshua looked well on his way to becoming a global star, but his momentum has slowed a little with two lacklustre performances against Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker. Supporters of Joshua dismiss the lack of excitement to him still being a young fighter who is learning. Sorry, but the public has every right to expect its world heavyweight champion to produce performances that are commensurate with the title he holds. Wilder has done that of late. His last two outings have been electrifying, stopping Bermane Stiverne and the division’s Boogeyman the feared Luis Ortiz. What was once a fight that would have clearly favoured Joshua is now thought of more as an even money proposition.

Hearn claims that Joshua as a multiple belt holder has a greater claim to the title than Wilder who only holds the WBC version. A counter-argument can be made that Wilder’s WBC version is more prestigious than any of the other sanctioning bodies belts in Joshua’s possession.

It took five years to make the Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacquiao match. Had it happened sooner it might not have generated quite the record numbers it achieved, but it would have produced a better and more meaningful fight being the men would have been closer to the peak of their career’s than the end of it.

Hearn’s recent strategy of scheduling Joshua’s next two fights in Wembley is arrogant and a convenient way to avoid Wilder. Povetkin gets the September date, then Wilder is offered the April one far below market value. Hearn is counting on Wilder rejecting the flat fee. However, there is precedent for things not going as expected.

After Leon Spinks dethroned Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton was the consensus number one contender and the WBC’s mandatory challenger. Promoter Bob Arum wanting to do the Ali rematch instead, lowballed Norton with an offer of $200,000 that he expected and wanted him to reject.  Arum could then place the burden on Norton, clearing the way for Spinks to box Ali. Insulted as he was, Norton was so confident in his ability to defeat the still raw Spinks that he accepted. Nevertheless, Norton did not get his shot at Spinks.

If Wilder is as confident of defeating Joshua as Norton was of Spinks, perhaps he should take Hearns’ offer, but it is not that simple. Hearn is a smart promoter who would be looking to protect his investment, meaning Wilder would still be tied into him afterward for either a Joshua rematch or for other fights. This understandably would not be appealing to Wilder who has other network and business affiliations.

Last but not least, there is the Tyson Fury factor. You can make a case that he, not Joshua or Wilder is the true champion based on him dethroning Klitschko and not having been defeated since. Fury is an attractive alternative and if we are to believe him, a Wilder match is in negotiations at the present moment. It is a mouth-watering clash in which the winner might emerge with a stronger championship claim than Joshua in the court of public opinion.

My verdict is in and Joshua has been found guilty of avoiding Wilder. Yes, as the judge told me with my parking ticket I do believe that Joshua wants the fight, but the man he has put in charge of his career does not, at least for now.

August 4, 2018
August 4, 2018
Deontay Wilder

Showtime

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A while ago it seemed that Deontay Wilder had only one fight to look at and that was with Anthony Joshua. That fight could have been made but Wilder had an inflated idea of his worth seeming to think that Joshua also had only one option. When Joshua’s team got tired of the back-and-forward mixture of unrealistic offers and social media trumpeting they moved on to Alex Povetkin. Not a great fight but sellable and let’s face it where Joshua is at this time any fight of his is going to be a big event for big money. Now the offers seem to be coming out of the woodwork for Wilder. The WBC has said it would not stand in the way of a return with Luis Ortiz. The elderly Cuban almost put Wilder away in their fight so some grounds for it. Tyson Fury has pitched in saying talks are underway for him to fight Wilder. Again sellable but we won’t know what Fury has by fighting guys such as Francesco Pianeta. The big German-based Italian lost in March to an eleven fight novice. One judge had it 96-94 and one had it 99-91 but they all had his opponent 22-year-old Petar Milas winning. However, for a second fight after thirty-one months out of action, the 6’5” southpaw is a reasonable choice but by no means a measure as to whether Fury will be ready for Wilder by the end of this year. The only name that never appears on Wilder’s dance card is the WBC No 1 Dillian Whyte. In his excellent fight against Joseph Parker Whyte showed his strengths and his weaknesses but he is the man that Wilder should be fighting and the WBC should be making it happen. Since winning the title Wilder has defended against Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Chris Arreola, Gerald Washington, Bermane Stiverne (of which the WBC should be ashamed) and Ortiz and if Wilder dodges Whyte the WBC title will be on its way to being a side show. I happen to think Wilder would beat Whyte but I would like the chance to find out if I am right.

Deontay Wilder

Just when you think the WBA has hit rock bottom you find they are still digging. They are now reported to have recognised a fight between Trevor Bryan and BJ Flores as an eliminator for the No 1 spot in their heavyweight ratings. Currently Bryan is No 4 and Flores No 5 which is a disgraceful manipulation of their ratings but nothing unusual there. Bryan first entered the WBA top 15 in February 2016. To climb from No 15 to No 4 he has beaten Galen Brown (44-33-1) in July 2016, Sandy Soto (2-20) in April 2017 and Francois Russell (2-24) in December 2017. Flores lost to Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiser title in October 2016 being floored four times and stopped in three rounds. Flores made his first appearance in the WBA heavyweight ratings for February 2017 (published 17 March) for beating Jeremy Bates (26-18-1) but that victory won Flores the WBA-NABA title and you get rated for that even if you beat your grandmother. In the 18 months since that win he has fought once stopping Nick Guivas (13-6-2) but by January this year he had climbed to No 6 and now he is No 5. So 15 to 5 for beating Bates and Guivas. Not too surprising that Don King’s fingers are in this pie. It is impossible to take the WBA serious; in fact it is hard not to be disgusted by them. If Bryan and Flores is not ridiculous enough they have 46-year-old drugs cheat Guillermo Jones at No 10 heavyweight when his only fight in two years is a split decision win over Ytalo Perea (10-2-2) and after losing a court case when they tried to screw Fres Oquendo they are forced to have Oquendo in their ratings-he is No 2 –even though he has not had a fight for four years. Hold the press! He is scheduled to challenge Manuel Charr for the secondary title on 29 September.

So the final of the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight tournament between George Groves and Callum Smith will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on September 28. Smith kicked off the tournament with a win over Erik Skoglund on September 16 2017 so the tournament will have dragged on for over a year. It is a great pity but the delay due to the injury to Groves has taken some of the shine of the final. It is a great fight but it would have been ideal if it had happened soon after both won their semi-final now it will be a cold start to the build-up. It is also a pity that such a huge fight between two British fighters is taking place in Saudi Arabia. It is all about money so presumably someone has put a lot of money into the pot to get the fight to Jeddah when common sense said it should have been held in the UK.

Interested in money? Well Mikey Garcia collected $1 million for beating Robert Easter who received $500,000. Both were world champions holding well respected titles but the purses reflect the respective profiles and entertainment value.

At the other end of the scale Hekkie Budler vacated the IBF light-flyweight title rather than fight Felix Alvarado for a pitiful purse. Reportedly there was only one bid for the fight with a purse of $25,000. Budler would have picked up 75% so less than $19,000. Garcia was being paid more than $83,000 per round! Alvarado will now face Filipino Randy Petalcorin for the vacant title.

The purses for Jaime Munguia and Liam Smith were reported as $200,000 for Munguia and $75,000 for Smith and in the WBO super featherweight fight on the same card Alberto Machado’s take was $100,000 and Rafael Mensah’s $35,000.

Can’t get too excited over Rob Brant challenging Ryota Murata for the secondary WBA middleweight title. Brant was outclassed by Juergen Braehmer in the WBSS tournament. In fairness it was at super-middle so he might do better at his normal weight. It seems that Brant was promised a shot at Murata when he stood aside to allow Murata a direct return against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam after the Japanese fighter lost a disputed decision to N’Jikam for the vacant title.The fight is out for purse offers due August 13 with a minimum bid of $200,000 set. It will be Murata’s second defence of the secondary title.

Going back to the super-middleweights Jose Uzcategui will put his IBF title on the line against unbeaten Caleb Plant in Minneapolis on August 24. Uzcategui was upgraded from interim champion to full champion when James De Gale vacated the crown. The No 1 position in the IBF ratings is vacant. Plant can’t fill that spot because he has not beaten a rated fight – but he can get to No 2 without beating a rated fighter!

It is a pity to hear that Sergio Martinez is contemplating a return to boxing. It appears that in doing fight scenes for a movie, “Maravilla” got the itch again. Hopefully he will get talked out of it. Sergio is now 43 and has been out of the ring since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. Please don’t Sergio.

Some exciting fights scheduled for September 8. In Inglewood the super flyweights are at it again with Donnie Nietes defending his WBO super fly title against fellow Filipino Aston Palicte, Juan Francisco Estrada taking on Felipe Orucuta and the un-retired Kazuto Ioka vs. McWilliams Arroyo. On the other coast in Brooklyn Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter fight for the vacant WBC welterweight title and over in Birmingham Amir Khan will face Sammy Vargas. Khan should win but he can’t afford any banana skins at this stage of his career. Best fight in Birmingham could be the British middleweight title fight between Jason Welborn and Tommy Langford.

Roman Gonzalez will make his return to the ring on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez fight in Las Vegas on September 15. It seems incredible that at the start of 2017 Gonzalez was right up there at the top pound-for-pound lists and two fights later he is seen as a shot fighter. He will face Moises Fuentes in Las Vegas and a loss to the former WBO minimumweight champion might spell the end of his career. No opponent named yet but Jaime Munguia is pencilled in for a defence of his WBO super-welter title on the Las Vegas card as a taster for a fight with the winner of Golovkin vs. Alvarez and the presence of Gary “ Spike” O’Sullivan on the show might signal an alternative route for Golovkin or Alvarez.

Looks like Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr will return to action September 7 in Los Angeles against Sergio Mora. It will be Chavez’s first fight since losing to Saul Alvarez in May last year. Mora returned to action in April with a win over Alfredo Angulo. It has been suggested the fight will be at a catchweight of 171lbs but Mora, although described now as a super-middleweight, was only 162 ½ lbs against Angulo and Chavez 164lbs against Alvarez so they should both be comfortable at 171lbs.

Nice gesture in that money from the Rodney Berman and Jeff Ellis  “Reach for the Stars” show in Kempton Park South Africa  on August 10 will go to the Reach for a Dream charity that works with children with life threatening illnesses. The show will also honour outstanding South African journalist and ring historian Ron Jackson. The main event on the show will see unbeaten 7-0 Rowan Campbell face Renson Hobyani 8-2 for the vacant South African super middleweight title. At all levels boxing does great work for charities but that doesn’t make for headlines so it is very under appreciated.

Plenty of action surrounding already scheduled and still to be scheduled European title fights. Purse offer for Vincent Legrand’s defence against Andrew Selby are due August 9, James Tennyson’s defence of the super-featherweight title will be held either September 21 in Belfast or September 22 in London, Kerman Lejarraga’s welterweight defence against Frankie Gavin will be in Bilbao on November 17. Unbeaten Pole Kamil Szeremeta 17-0 is to defend the middleweight title against Spaniard Ruben Diaz 25-1-2. No date or venue for that yet. Both super-middleweight champion Robin Krasniqi and heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel have voluntary defences in Leipzig on October 27 and then face mandatory defences against Juergen Braehmer and Swede Otto Wallin respectively.

Still on Europe it is planned to have an Italian Boxing Hall of Fame set up in Romagna by October and there are plenty of candidates in both Italian born fighters and in fighters with Italian antecedents. Let’s hope it does get up and running.

We keep hearing that men can’t multi task. Rubbish, during the third round of the fight on Friday between Luis Lebron and Milner Marcano in Barranquilla, Colombia, Marcano slipped on some water that had somehow found its way to the centre of the ring and he went down. The referee stopped the fight and looked around to see who was going to deal with the problem. The answer came in the form of a towel thrown at him from one side of the ring and a broom from the other so he did the job himself.