WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua sounds happy with the state of the division and the direction in which it’s moving, despite the frustrations of fight fans.
Joshua, owner of three of the four major titles, boxes Jarrell Miller on June 1 in New York, while Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, defends his belt against Dominic Breazeale, a man already conquered by Joshua, on May 18.
Added to this, Tyson Fury fights Tom Schwarz, an unknown German, on June 15, Dillian Whyte will box someone around that same time, and Oleksandr Usyk steps up from cruiserweight to heavyweight to meet Carlos Takam on May 25.
A packed schedule, then, even if it represents quantity over quality at this stage.
“It’s really good,” Joshua told Sky Sports, “because we’ve got me and Miller, Wilder vs. Breazeale, Fury vs. Schwarz, Dillian Whyte is going to do something, Usyk vs Takam.
“The heavyweight division is alive. It is booming.”
It’s certainly alive. It will be booming, too, if Joshua and Wilder come through their next tests unscathed and decide to do the right thing and fight one another later this year. Failing that, perhaps Tyson Fury will re-enter the mix and stir things up again.
“I’ve done the (Joseph) Parker fight; I fought for that (WBO) title,” Joshua said. “I’ve fought (Alexander) Povetkin, now I’ve got to do Miller and I just need to get past this one.
“If I don’t get Wilder, what am I doing it for? If I don’t get my hands on the WBC belt, what am I doing it for? I really want that chance and that opportunity.”
He has a point. What are any of The Big Three doing it for if they won’t want to discover which of them is the best? (Oh, yes. It’s then you remember the sort of money being thrown at them by US TV networks and suddenly other reasons start to make sense.)
We’re promised a new-look Dereck Chisora in 2019, but Senad Gashi, his next opponent, doubts the validity of these claims and says it will be tough for Chisora to improve without a “boxing brain”.
Chisora, now 35, has relocated to Rotherham to train with Dave Coldwell and is desperate to rebound from his devastating defeat to Dillian Whyte in December in fine style. Gashi, however, considers the Finchley man past his best and reckons Coldwell’s efforts to change him at this late stage will have ultimately fallen on deaf ears.
“Dereck Chisora is an old dog and it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” said ‘Gachine Gun’. “Dereck is a very experienced guy. He doesn’t have a boxing brain but his toughness and experience makes up for that. What I will say is he looks like he’s in the best shape of his life.
“We are two very different fighters but what we both share is lots of heart. We are both warriors deep down and I predict that this will be a fight that people will talk about for a very long time. He calls himself ‘WAR’ Chisora and it’s a war he’s going to get. People will love this fight.”
Chisora needs a win, of course, but beating Gashi probably isn’t the win he needs.
Gashi, 17-2, has won all 17 inside the distance but has beaten nobody of note. His two losses, meanwhile, came against Tom Schwarz, Tyson Fury’s next tune-up opponent, and Carlos Takam, a Chisora victim.
“I had just three days’ notice for my fight with Takam,” said Gashi, German-born but based in Spain. “If I’d of had a full training camp I am confident I would have beaten him.
“I was fighting from instinct and my stamina wasn’t there. In the end I gassed out and you all saw what happened. I came to the fight without a coach and I decided my strategy 20 minutes before the fight started.
“I’ve had a full training camp this time and I’ve done my homework. I’m prepared and ready to get the win. I watch the round Whyte KO’d Chisora every day. I know that I’m able to give any fighter on the planet a hard night and I’ll show everyone the real Senad Gashi on April 20.”
He has already won the battle of the nicknames, but Gachine Gun now needs to prove WAR is no more than a hat slogan nicked from an all-time great and that Dereck Chisora is as one-dimensional as he wants us to believe.