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The boxing media review – What to make of Anthony Joshua’s mindset?

Anthony Joshua
Action Images/Reuters/Peter Cziborra
Wilder’s place in history is a common theme but Joshua’s mindset is harder to judge. George Gigney's weekly boxing media review

Podcasts

AFTER Deontay Wilder’s emphatic come-from-behind knockout of Luis Ortiz, a common topic of discussion across a range of podcasts was where the Alabaman sits among the heaviest hitters in heavyweight history.

On The Fight with Teddy Atlas, the veteran trainer and commentator doesn’t beat around the bush; he says Wilder is the biggest one-shot heavyweight puncher he’s ever seen. Atlas’ considerable experience in the sport means his comments carry weight – and he makes a point of acknowledging the power of Mike Tyson, despite their fractured past.

Kieran Mulvaney – on the Showtime Boxing podcast with Raskin & Mulvaney – provides the best audio moment of the week with his unique take on Wilder’s “bombsquad,” before he and Eric Raskin take a more measured approach to their views on Wilder’s place in history. They rightfully pay credit to Deontay’s ability to set up his power, and how this has drastically improved over the course of his career.

One of my favourite podcasts is another from across the pond – the State of Combat podcast, hosted by Brian Campbell.

Campbell is joined by The Athletic’s Rafe Bartholomew and the pair have a great chemistry. A warning – the podcast is completely mad. It is jam-packed with inside jokes that only hardcore fans could begin to understand.

However, the pair are experienced journalists and have insightful discussions; this week when discussing Wilder’s mooted rematch with Tyson Fury, Bartholomew notes that while ESPN are pushing it, FOX – the channel reportedly co-broadcasting the fight – have not made a peep about it.

As ever, 5 Live with Costello and Bunce contains some great content. Both feel Wilder belongs to be ranked alongside the heaviest punchers in boxing history and highlight that while he has plenty of unheralded victims on his CV, so too do the other heavyweights considered the most dangerous in history.

Costello also talks in-depth with Joshua. The former champion says he knows what went wrong against Ruiz but won’t say – Costello, like any good interviewer, doesn’t let him off that easy, and persists with questioning, until it appears what Joshua is alluding to is potentially burnout. Costello does better than most to get revealing answers out of Joshua.

Reflecting on Callum Smith’s close win over John Ryder, Costello holds his hands up and admits he didn’t think Ryder could produce such a performance. Bunce makes the humorous (and probably accurate) observation that those people who say online that they’ve gone back and re-scored a fight with the sound off are lying.

With that in mind, this week’s Fight Disciples is a frustrating listen. Adam Catterall and Nick Peet spend the first section of the pod going through their own Smith-Ryder scorecards (both done on a rewatch) while comparing them to listeners’ scores. It is pointless and frankly not that interesting when you try and score a fight you’ve already seen, with full awareness of fans’ reactions to that fight, your scoring isn’t going to be fair or balanced.

Peet does conduct a reflective interview with Smith, who now doesn’t sound confident he’ll get his dream Anfield fight unless he can somehow lure Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin there.

Ryder, meanwhile, joins Anna Woolhouse and Andy Clarke on the Sky Sports Toe 2 Toe podcast, and he remains admirably level-headed about the controversial scorecards handed down by the official judges.

The trio also discuss Ruiz-Joshua II, and Clarke notes that most of what we’ve heard from ‘AJ’ so far seems “pre-prepared” and almost like “corporate speech.” It’s bold and frank analysis and makes something of a mockery of claims that everyone on the Sky Sports payroll are mere puppets.

Anthony Joshua
Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Broadcasts

BT Sport had a couple of broadcasts over the weekend, starting with Queensbury’s bumper bill in Birmingham.

Bizarrely, the only world title fight on the show – Zolani Tete’s shock stoppage loss to John Riel Casimero – wasn’t even chief support. I understand the importance of providing a platform to local talent – who feature higher up the bill than Tete-Casimero – but to have a world-level fight so far down seems misjudged. Casimero might well be next for pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue.

BT also aired Carl Frampton’s dominant win over Tyler McCreary from Las Vegas, using ESPN’s international feed with Ron McIntosh and Andy Lee on comms. I know I praised him last week, but Lee was excellent once again. He picks up on tactical and strategic nuances instantly and was also quick to notice Frampton’s hand injury during the fight from very little evidence.

They were let down by the feed, though – instead of showing replays in the minute break, they were shown over the top of live action, which was distracting. Also, after Carl’s win, he was joined in the ring by promoter Bob Arum and WBO super-feather champion Jamel Herring – it seemed like we might get some news, but interviewer Crystina Poncher barely had enough time to speak to Frampton, let alone Arum and Herring. A real missed opportunity.

Sky Sports’ sole offering came live from Monaco and, as ever, it just felt like a very bougie small hall show. The small crowd rarely gave anything more than a golf clap for each fight.

One thing that jumped out at me was the sheer number of adverts crammed into the broadcast (some of which had been bought up by the Saudi Arabia tourist board). Between every round of boxing there’d be an advert sandwiched between the same clip for one of Sky Sports Boxing’s sponsors, and it can really take you out of the action.

YouTube

The anticipated Gloves are Off with Ruiz and Joshua dropped on the Sky Sports Boxing channel, and it was…OK? My pseudo-psychological analysis tells me Joshua did seem uncomfortable on the other side of the table as challenger; certainly a little tenser than usual.

Johnny Nelson does his best to stir up as much as possible between the pair and largely fails. A particularly awkward moment sees Nelson ask Ruiz, “Are you trying to end this man’s career?” Ruiz and Joshua both look confused and Ruiz eventually says yes. The champion also feels Joshua quit in their first fight.

Boxing Social grabbed Arum for a sit-down, and he reveals that the MGM Grand is on hold for February 22 to stage Wilder-Fury 2 and that everything is signed, even an advertising schedule.

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