Premium Issue Opinion

Gerry Cooney analyses and offers advice to Wilder, Fury, Ruiz and Joshua

Gerry Cooney
Cooney did not feel prepared for Holmes Action Images
Former world heavyweight title challenger Gerry Cooney takes a look at the current crop of heavyweights and says the division is in great shape

TRADITIONALLY, the heavyweights hold up boxing but, at the start of this millennium, the division went downhill. The Klitschkos were dominant for so long.

But heavyweight boxing is great right now. We’ve got Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz, Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce. Oleksandr Usyk is another tough guy…a beast. When they get together, it’ll be a wonderful thing.

Presently, I think Fury is probably the best of what we’ve got; so awkward, such confidence. Look, nobody in the division wanted Wilder. Tyson was away for almost three years, put on 150lbs, was drinking and drugging. Then first thing he announces is ‘I want Wilder.’ The guy really is crazy!

But Fury got himself in shape and delivered. Jack Reiss, the referee, is a good friend of mine and he told me that when Wilder dropped him heavily in round 12, Fury’s eyes didn’t open until the count was at ‘five’ but he jumps off the floor to hurt Wilder badly twice, with right hands. His standing grew a lot that night. 

I think Tyson needs the best available competition to get himself to that level. If you’re matched with a nobody, it’s hard to get motivated. But fighting someone that’ll challenge him, he gets himself ready. That’s a gift.

Wilder is a sensational puncher and he’s done everything asked of him. Trouble is, all the great trainers have passed on and the new guys are teaching a watered-down version of what boxing is.

If I’m Wilder, fighting Tyson Fury, in my day, I’d have made sure I got to his belly; not tried, made sure. I’m gonna get there and break his ribs. He’s soft, a heavy-set guy.

When I bust his body, his head comes down and I hit him on the chin. Fighters don’t do that anymore. I had a great teacher myself in Victor Valle. The lost arts need to be revived.

Recently, I called up Shelley Finkel and said: “Give me Wilder for two months, let me teach him how to throw some other punches, add something new to the tool box.” I want these guys to be great.

Tyson Fury
Wilder still has much to learn, says Cooney

Anthony Joshua still has the ability to be a superstar. He was a great representative of the world heavyweight championship. Years back, I saw Muhammad Ali walk down an aisle at an airport and he had a glow about him. “AJ” possesses that same magic. The night he beat Klitschko, he moved up a lot for me, but he threw it away.

I have great advice for Joshua. He stands way too straight up in the pocket. He needs to step to the side, punch from angles, then when you’ve finished your punches, hold on! When caught, you gotta get your head down, get outta the way, grab hold of something.

In world class, you can’t just stand in front of a guy and let him punch you back 15 times. It’s basic tools. He needs to learn that but hasn’t had time because he was fast tracked, won the gold medal and may have listened to his mail too much.

I was happy for Ruiz. I didn’t expect him to beat AJ first time, but I knew he was gonna test him, knew Ruiz was no slouch, knew he could fight. So he’s not the Adonis people want him to look. But I knew he was tough, a beast of a guy. He doesn’t just throw one or two shots at a time, he throws a dozen. He’d only lost one time, controversially.

Since claiming the heavyweight championship of the world, Ruiz’s confidence is going to sky rocket. This time he’ll be an even tougher proposition for AJ.

For Joshua to stand any chance of retaining his belts, he’ll need to be really disciplined, use the straight jab and move!Don’t just stand there in front of the guy. I’m not sure if he can do it.

If I’d been fighting Joshua, I’d have loved him to stand in front of me. ‘Do that just one more time for me!’ Crack. Over!

Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua is made to pay for his mistakes (Action Images/Andrew Couldridge)

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