GOOD news for boxing fans: the heavyweight fights you want to see WILL happen – just not immediately, nor in 2019.
That’s the message following Deontay Wilder’s stunning first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale on Saturday (May 18); a message read from a script shared by Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s promoter, Frank Warren, Tyson Fury’s promoter, and Eddie Hearn, Anthony Joshua’s promoter.
The three men in suits behind the three heavyweights with belts (well, let’s imagine Fury’s so-called lineal heavyweight title belt is actually something tangible) remain convinced the fights that need to happen will happen but are just as quick to caution anyone getting too carried away.
“That fight will happen, I’m absolutely convinced of it,” Warren told talkSPORT when asked about the possibility of Fury and Wilder confirming their rematch sometime soon. “I’m sure it’s going to happen early next year.
“I was hoping it would happen by the end of the year, but Tyson’s got a commitment on the 15th June (against unknown German Tom Schwarz) and then Deontay’s got a fight in autumn (apparently a rematch against Luis Ortiz).
“Hopefully after those two fights, these guys will get it on.”
If it’s not Wilder and Fury getting it on, the hope is that Anthony Joshua, next up in a mediocre fight against Andy Ruiz Jnr on June 1, enters the equation and boxes one of them.
“We’ll decide in the next couple of weeks,” Finkel told BBC Sport. “I would say probably next year but nothing’s definite.”
Similarly, Eddie Hearn is saying all the right things, and teasing the possibility of Joshua vs. Wilder as if it’s as much a certainty as Christmas falling on December 25.
“The fight with AJ and Wilder is the biggest fight in the sport and all being well, in two weeks’ time, it must happen next. No excuses. This is the fight that will change the sport globally,” he told Sky Sports.
We have been here before, of course, hence the scepticism. But the more we see knockouts like Wilder’s on Breazeale, and the more heavyweight mismatches we have to endure, the closer we are, one would hope, to common sense prevailing and some proper heavyweight business being done.
Though Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams is the new WBA and IBF super-welterweight champion and a man of principle, he needs to be careful.
In demanding all future opponents do “at least 90 days random blood testing”, Williams, 27-1-1 (16), is in danger of leaving himself without anyone to challenge him. It won’t be his fault, no, but it could be the sobering trade-off to the American’s wish for a level playing field.
Unfortunately, such is the extent of the performance-enhancing drug problem in boxing, it’s rare to see a top 10 list, regardless of the weight-class, free from a cheat or two. It is the reality we, the fans, and they, the boxers, have come to accept.
Williams, though, refreshingly, won’t stand for it the way some of his peers might.
Just a friendly reminder for my future opponents I will be requesting at least 90 DAYS RANDOM BLOOD TESTING BY @Vada_Testing 😊 won’t be cycling off on me 🙅🏽♂️ now we’re gonna find out who’s really the best in the 154lbs div
— JulianJrockWilliams (@Jrockboxing) May 19, 2019
“Just a friendly reminder for my future opponents,” he wrote on social media. “I will be requesting at least 90 days random blood testing by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association). Won’t be cycling off on me. Now we’re going to really find out who’s the best in the 154lbs division.”
The new champion’s stance is admirable and, if replicated by others in positions of power, we could even end up getting somewhere. But, of course, therein lies another problem. The real problem, perhaps. For how many of those in positions of power – namely, champions and promoters of champions, as well as sanctioning bodies making money from champions – are willing to rock the boat and make a stand against the very thing that actively helps them generate millions of dollars? Not many, one suspects.