THE public negotiations between IBF World, WBA Super World and WBO champion Anthony Joshua’s team and the representatives of WBC holder Deontay Wilder seemingly ended in a stalemate over the past 24 hours after it was hinted that the 21-0 (20) Londoner will defend at least one of his titles, the WBA’s strap, against mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in September in order to keep hold of the belt.
Between them Eddie and Barry Hearn have years of experience in promoting and putting together big fights. Shelly Finkle, representing Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), was twice named Manager of the Year by the BWAA, in 1990 and 1993 respectively, and has made some of the biggest fights the division has seen in recent decades.
Therefore, and bearing in mind that the Hearns have an accounting background and Finkle was enshrined in the IBHoF in 2010, all that matters is the bottom-line, and the bottom-line is that they have failed to make a fight that the sport, not just the division, is crying out for. This is a collective failure.
The fighters are primed, the match-up has marinated long enough, but it is another in a long line of fights that may well wither on the vine if one or both slip up in marking time fights — you know, the type of fights that prompt fighters to take their eyes off the ball and make mistakes.
The WBA informed fans that: ‘The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder. It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua versus Povetkin fight’.
This statement from an organisation that has a President, Gilberto Mendoza, who poses for selfies with fighters, Joshua included, puts the blame implicitly and firmly on the toes of the 32-year-old American knockout artist, who took to Twitter to blame his 28-year-old rival and his team in his usual understated manner, writing: ‘[You] had the world waiting for three months playing games just for this moment. You’re not a true champion!! you’re just a weak-minded coward that’s holding hard metal #facts’.
Hearn, though, claims Wilder and his team are to blame, telling Sky Sports News that: “We can’t do a lot more. I think Anthony’s frustrated that he feels people feel he might not want the fight [with Wilder]. He wants that fight more than anything.
“We sent the contract nearly nine days ago. We’re not even necessarily expecting a signed contract back — we just want comments. If I wanted a fight, my fighter wanted a fight, and we received a contract, we would be back with the comments within 24 hours. Nothing makes sense here at all.” Never a truer word was spoken when it comes to this sport.
The pro-Joshua and pro-Wilder factions, whose views are often based on an anti-Hearn stance, will argue and spin on behalf of their side of the equation, yet it is another frustrating situation that is in dire need of a resolution.
In the meantime, fans will be treated to a mega event fight between Joshua and two-time PED cheat Povetikin on what will no doubt be a stacked night of boxing here in the UK, while Wilder will seek an alternative option as this one could be delayed for up to a year if a deal is not worked out and signed by Friday.
On the surface, both sides will try to out-posture the other as negotiations drag on, modern promoters and fight figures are great when it comes to promoting themselves; behind the scenes they will no doubt try to keep fine-tuning it. As for the public airing of the minutiae of the situation, for many fans it is a case of “Wake me up when this one is done”. We can only live in hope that when it is finally made the fight itself isn’t anywhere near as tedious as the long, torturous path leading up to it.
In other news, and there is other stuff going on, Charlie Flynn has put his name to a mental health campaign, Time To Talk, that aims to take youngsters out of the house, off their phones, and away from processed and sugary foods.
The undefeated 24-year-old — he is currently 10-0-2 with a single stoppage — has told Ben Ramage of the Daily Record that physical activity and clean living can help stave off the steady rise of depression and other forms of mental illness.
“Sport helps to balance your life,” he said. “Young people are obsessed with their phones now but we need to get them more into sport. Whether that’s boxing, cycling, football, tennis, whatever. Exercise is so important as it keeps your mind active and releases happy endorphins.”
The “Mailman” added that social media has had an isolating effect on the next generation. Not to mention an often brutal reality TV culture, plus the continued and cruel growth of relentless online bullying and negativity.
During this age of continued austerity, steadily rising prices and decreasing shopping budgets have forced many people to resort to processed and junk food. Flynn believes that a move towards healthy, affordable eating would also be a step in the right direction. “Processed food is another thing that can destroy people’s moods,” he argued. “A lot of food that claims to be healthy actually isn’t…A healthier body gives you a healthier mind.”
The Daily Record also reported that another charity is trying to reach out to the local community via visits to schools and gyms in the Wishaw area. Wishaw YMCA co-ordinator Garry King openly admits to the people he speaks to that he once battled drug and drink addictions, and he told Ross Thomson that he tried to get a message of hope across when speaking to young amateur boxers from the Shire Boxing Club.
“The young lads really took a lot in,” he said. “A lot of our guys have come through the bad times like myself and are looking to give something back to Wishaw. Speaking to kids and young adults about some harder hitting issues that are sometimes not addressed could make a real difference.”
The 50-year-old contemplated suicide during his 20-year run of drugs, drink and gambling abuse, but he now concentrates on spreading a message of hope as well as working on getting the local YMCA refurbished.
“We already have a boxing club here plus taekwondo and a gym which will hopefully be opening during the day for young people to attend,” he added. “There is also an over-50s keep-fit class for ladies on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is a bereavement group on Thursdays and 12 -step Fellowship meetings on Saturdays and Sundays…It’s been well documented some of the problems we have in Wishaw but we are here to help.”
Belfast’s Jamie Conlan (19-1, 11 KOs) has admitted that he has pretty much “hung up the gloves” following his failed IBF world super-flyweight title tilt against Jerwin Ancajas at the city’s SSE Arena last November. The 31-year-old now has a behind the scenes role with MTK, and he told David Kelly of the Belfast Telegraph that his attention has turned away from his own in-ring career towards that of his younger brother, Michael.
The 26-year-old fights former world title challenger Adeilson dos Santos at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night as strives to move to 8-0 in his first fight in Belfast after initially basing himself in LA with Bob Arum’s Top Rank and training under Manny Robles. “It can be stressful because it’s 24-7 looking after Michael’s career,” admitted Jamie when talking about the pressures of guiding his brother’s career.
Now trained by Adam Booth, the 26-year-old featherweight will hope to show the Belfast fans what they have been missing while his older brother transitions from throwing punches to making matches.
That said, Conlan added a caveat when briefly discussing his own career by stressing that, as it stands right now, his retirement is very much “unofficial”. This leaves him open to offers should any enticing ones come in, and they invariably do.