“If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So, I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
Those powerful words were proudly and elegantly articulated by the late great Muhammed Ali after refusing to be drafted into the United States army during the Vietnam War. Before we look into why there was a third break in the Lineal timeline lets pick-up from where we left off in 1956.
Rather than simply order a fight between the top two contenders following Rocky’s early retirement the International Boxing Club chose to order an elimination tournament to crown Marciano’s successor.
Floyd Patterson who was ranked as the number one light heavyweight by Ring Magazine, outpointed Tommy Jackson in his first ever heavyweight fight to setup a showdown with Archie Moore for the vacant title.
The ‘Gentleman of Boxing’ produced one of his finest performances as a heavyweight in 1956, stopping the ‘Old Mongoose’ in the fifth round to become the first Olympic gold medalist and youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history, at the tender age of 21 years.
Not too different to today’s era Patterson who was guided by Cus D’Amato – the same Cus that introduced a young Mike Tyson into boxing – decided to ease his new champion into the division by carefully selecting fringe contenders for his first defenses. D’Amato was clearly avoiding a certain rising star Sony Liston who was starting to make a name for himself by demolishing the better opposition.
In 1959, Patterson was supposed to make light work his of Swedish opponent Ingemar Johansson, but bad judgment resulted in a third-round stoppage after the American was knocked down seven-times, losing his world heavyweight crown. Johansson became a national hero overnight and was cheered by 20,000 fans when he returned to his hometown in Gothenburg.
On June 20, 1960, in New York City Patterson knocked Johansson out in the fifth round to become the first man to recover the world undisputed heavyweight title. The left hook that Patterson landed was so devastating that Johansson remained flat on his back for a further five minutes after being counted out.
After a rubber match victory over the Swede by a sixth-round knockout, Patterson defended his title once more before number-one contender Liston could not be avoided anymore. D’Amato did not want to entertain a fight with Liston because of his mob connections but to get the fight signed Patterson removed his manager from handling his business affairs.
Before Patterson fought Liston the National Boxing Association (NBA) rebranded themselves as the WBA on August 23, 1962, a year before the WBC was founded in July 22, 1963.
In Chicago, 1962, Liston was in a destructive mood knocking out Patterson in the first round, the third-fastest knockout in boxing history. A year later the rematch took place in Las Vegas and Liston once again ended the contest in round-one becoming the first to hold the newly named WBA title and first official new WBC heavyweight champion.
A young brash Olympic gold medalist from the 1960 games in Rome would be Liston’s second defense in 1964. Cassius Clay was his name, but he would later become Muhammad Ali the ‘Greatest of all Time’. Many pundits favored Liston, but Ali produced a massive upset to win the fight after the champ failed to emerge from his corner in the seventh. “I am the greatest! I shook up the world,” Ali shouted to those that doubted him.
On May 25, 1965, the stupidity of boxing’s Governing Bodies emerged when the WBA stripped Ali of their title because the new heavyweight champion refused to fight their mandatory in favor of a rematch with Liston. Ernie Terrell defeated Eddie Machen to collect a version of the title, but everyone knew who the real champion was. Ali won the rematch against Liston to retain the WBC title and his Lineal status in 1965 with the famous, “phantom punch” which was officiated by Jersey Joe Walcott.
In 1965 Ali defeated Floyd Patterson by technical knock-out in the twelfth-round before traveling to Canada and Europe to defend his titles against George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London and Karl Mildenberger. Ali returned to America in 1966 and stopped Cleveland Williams in three-rounds, unify and outpoint Ernie Terrell and knockout Zora Folley in seven.
At the age of 25-years-old, Muhammed Ali was stripped of his titles and passport, had his boxing license suspended, sentenced to five years in prison and hit with a $10,000 fine for refusing to be inducted into the armed forces during the Vietnam conflict. The champ paid his bond and remained free until his case worked its way through the appeal process. He did not lace-up a glove to compete in the ring from March 1967 to October 1970, robbing Ali of his prime years.
So, what of the Lineal title? Well, the WBA chose to stage an eight-man tournament that featured most of the top contenders while the WBC strap remained vacant until 1970.
Check out the next installment of The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline from 1967-1979. Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show and follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23
“Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.”
Those famous words were orignally coined by the great Joe Louis, before Mike Tyson repeated a simular line in 1987. But before we delve into the Joe Louis era let’s continue from where I left off in 1928, when Gene Tunney had just announced his retirement.
It took 2-years until promoters organized the ‘Battle of the Continents,’ between German Max Schmeling and American Jack Sharkey. Schmeling became the first man to win a heavyweight championship by disqualification after Sharkey delivered a low-blow.
After just one credible defense against Young Stribling, Schmeling controversially lost his title in a rematch with Sharkey in 1932. One year later the ‘Boston Gob’ made his first defense against Primo Carnera after defeating the Italian previously, he was knocked out in the sixth round of their second meeting.
In 1934, Carnera lost to Max Baer after getting knocked down multiple times before referee Arthur Donovon stopped the fight. Almost a year to the day of winning the heavyweight title Baer lost in a shock defeat against hand-picked James J. Braddock by a 15-round unanimous decision.
Even though the newly coined ‘Cinderella man’ held the title for 2-years he never made a single defense because the American public were worried that a loss to Max Schmeling would result in the Nazis keeping the title and denying a US fighter the chance to ever win it back.
Eventually, Joe Louis was given the title shot in 1937, and after being knocked down in round one recovered to dominate and knock Braddock out cold in round-eight.
Joe Louis refused to recognize himself as the champ until he avenged his sole defeat of former champion Max Schmeling. After three successful defenses, the rematch in 1938 was considered one of the most famous boxing matches in the 20th century.
Nazi Germany was a year away from starting World War 2 and Schmeling was their boxing poster boy, this wasn’t just a boxing match it was more than that. “I had my own personal reasons and the whole damned country was depending on me,” said Louis.
The Yankee Stadium was the venue with 70,043 fans in attendance as they witnessed the ‘Brown Bomber’ demolish Schmeling in two-minutes and four seconds.
From 1939 through to May 1941, Louis defended his title thirteen times with wins over Louis Galento, Bob Pastor, Abe Simon and Buddy Baer, among others before his hard-fought victory over Billy Conn. Before the rematch with Conn, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Louis voluntarily enlisted for the United States Army in 1942 before he was released from military service in 1945.
Louis resumed his career with a victory over Conn and two wins over Jersey Joe Walcott before he offically retired in 1949. Due to financial problems Louis was forced back into the ring only to be outpointed by Ezzard Charles in 1950, becoming the recognized Lineal Champion after defeating Jersey Joe Walcott in June 1949 for the vacant heavyweight strap.
The ‘Cincinnati Cobra’ made successful defenses against Walcott in their rematch, Lee Oma and Joey Maxim before losing in his third meeting with Walcott by a knockout in the seventh round. Jersey Joe Walcott became the oldest man to hold the crown at 37-years-old before retaining the title against arch-rival Charles in their fourth and final meeting.
Jersey Joe defended the title against undefeated legend Rocky Marciano on September 23, 1952. The champion floored Marciano in the first round and was ahead on the scorecards going into the thirteenth round when both threw right-hands but Rocky’s powerful right dubbed ‘Suzie Q’ landed first knocking Walcott out, becoming the nineteenth world heavyweight champion.
In six defenses from 1952-1956 Marciano defeated Walcott by a first-round knockout in their rematch, Roland La Starza, Ezzard Charles (twice), Don Cockell and Archie Moore. At the relatively young age of 32-years-old with a record of 49-0 Rocky announced his retirement from boxing leaving the world heavyweight title vacant once again and creating the second break in the Lineal timeline.
Check out the next installment of The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline from 1956-1966. Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show and follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23
“They said I was only a glove fighter and I was afraid of the bare knuckles. For that reason, I consented to fight Ryan as I did. I think I have proved that I can fight with my knuckles, and now anyone who wants to tackle me will have to do it in my fashion. I will not fight again with the bare knuckles because I do not wish to put myself in a position amenable to the law. Fist-fighting days are over with me. I have introduced the new rules of fighting to this country and I intend to stand by them.”
That statement was issued by John Lawrence Sullivan in 1882 after knocking out Paddy Ryan within nine-rounds. The ‘Boston Strong Boy’ is the first recognized lineal heavyweight champion in the gloved-era and the last bare-knuckle heavyweight champion, universally known as “The Man who Beat the Man”.
Although, the Marquis Queensberry rules were not introduced until 1885 – a code of generally accepted rules in the sport of boxing – Sullivan did in fact participate in the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title fight which lasted 75-rounds against Jake Kilrain in 1889.
Officially, the Cyber Boxing Zone (CBZ) acknowledge John L. Sullivan as the first Heavyweight Champion under the Queensberry Rules after his victory against Dominick McCaffery in 1885. Sully was eventually dethroned by a 21st round knockout upset by James J. Corbett at the Olympic Club, New Orleans in 1892.
The new champion made just one defense of the title in a 5-year period – boxing was outlawed in most states during that time – he was stopped with a “solar plexus” punch in the 14th round by British boxing legend Bob Fitzsimmons.
Fitzsimmons become the lightest heavyweight champion in history but lost his title in 1899 to James J. Jeffries who will later be budded America’s ‘Great White Hope’, in the Jack Johnson era.
Jeffries held his title until retiring in 1905 after defeating Corbet twice and Fitzsimmons for a second time in a brutal fight were the Brit was in complete control until he was knocked out with a left-hand in the 8th round.
After six years of dominance Jeffries stepped aside leaving the Heavyweight title vacant for the first time since its existence. It was decided that after a victory over Jack Johnson in 1905 that Marvin Hart deserved a shot against top-ranked Jack Root who had already beaten Hart 3-years prior. With Jefferies officiating the fight in Reno, Nevada, ‘The Louisville Plumber’ knocked out Root in the 12th round.
Hart’s reign was short lived as underdog Tommy Burns who was (2-1) at the time won a 20-round decision and went on to defend his title eleven times, although some reports suggest thirteen, if the rumor of two defenses in one night were true?
In December 1908, Burns became the first heavyweight champion to agree a fight with an African American, and that opponent was none other than Jack Johnson. The fight was held in Sydney, Australia and it was stopped in the 14th round by the police. Referee Hugh McIntosh awarded the decision to Jack Johnson who became the first African American heavyweight champion, 6-years after lightweight Joe Gans became the first African American boxing champion.
The ‘Galveston Giant’ defended his title 10-times from 1908-1915 defeating significant opponents like Stanley Ketchel who had his front teeth knocked out and former champion labelled the ‘Great White Hope’ James J. Jefferies, who came of retirement to save the championship. Johnson dominated in a one-sided beat down before Jeffries was saved from further punishment by his corner when they threw in the towel.
Like in today’s era, some fighters are not given an opportunity to challenge for a world title. Sam Langford was the world colored heavyweight champion in 1913 and should have been given his shot but instead Johnson fought Battling Jim Johnson. In 1915, Johnson’s domination was brought to a shuttering end when he was knocked out in the 26th round by Jess Willard.
Although Willard fought several times, he only ever defended his title once against Frank Moran before Jack Dempsey became the first man to knock Willard down, in fact he knocked him down seven-times in round one before Willard retired on his stool in 1919.
Dempsey was a cultural icon in the 1920’s with many of his fights setting financial and attendance records, including the first million-dollar gate. Dempsey defended his title six-times with notable victories over Frenchmen Georges Carpentier and Tommy Gibbons before losing a 10-round decision over Gene Tunney in 1926.
Tunney was only ever defeated once in his career by Harry Grebb before winning the world heavyweight title against Dempsey. He went on to defend against Dempsey a year later in the famous ‘Long Count Fight’ and stop Tom Heeney in 1928 before retiring as champion.
Like in 1905 when Jeffries retired as world heavyweight champion the title became vacant, but this time Tunney never came out of retirement to lose his title which created the first break in the heavyweight lineal timeline.
Check out the next installment of The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline from 1928-1956. Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show and follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23
With Brexit negotiations still ongoing as we head towards the 29 March deadline the Heavyweight Division seems determined to follow the path of a complex and uncertain future of a deal or no-deal agreement.
If you thought Brexit was complicated enough than Boxit will leave your mind boggling and your love for heavyweight boxing declining as each day passes.
Last week’s announcement of Anthony Joshua defending his IBF, WBO & WBA World Heavyweight titles against Jarrell Miller at Madison Square Garden in New York City was underwhelming but the news of Tyson Fury signing, what is believed to be a 5-fight deal with ESPN, has left us feeling even more disappointed.
You can’t begrudge Fury for signing a deal that will see him pocket an estimated £80m and £16m a fight but the addition of another network and promoter in Top Rank’s, Bob Arum is a cause for concern when it comes to negotiating the big fights. It has been well documented that Arum and Deontay Wilder’s promoter Al Haymon do not see eye-to-eye, which could affect those long drawn out hours at the negotiating table.
We can only hope that the promoter rivalry will be put to on-side for the benefit of the sport but what of the network rivalry between Showtime and ESPN? Well, thankfully that may not be a stumbling block after all with Wilder publicly stating;
“I’m a free agent, I can fight anyone, I don’t necessarily have to fight on the networks that I’m on, I can fight anywhere.”
Question is can we trust all parties involved to leave their egos at the door and be as transparent when getting this deal done? We will have to wait and see.
At least WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman believes the fight is still doable after ordering the Wilder-Fury rematch, he told journalist Gareth Davies;
“In the next few days we will get the current position from both sides (Fury & Wilder) and if there is an amicable agreement to make the fight, we will make a ruling from our committee.”
In theory there isn’t as many obstacles in the way as first thought but it’s further away than it was last week which has sent social media into a Boxit frenzy. Many have seen this latest deal as a disaster that will ruin the sport and turn our new casual fan away from boxing. It’s a valid point but sometimes our impulsive reactions to breaking news can also affect boxing’s newcomers in the same way so the benefit of time and perception is needed in boxing and in life.
Fury has increased his value after picking himself up off the canvas in the twelfth-round last year, so ESPN have ceased their opportunity to get a piece of the heavyweight pie because the division is the best it’s been since the 90’s and currently generating millions.
Therefore, the chances of rematch on ESPN and BT Sport in the United States is still a very strong possibility with Fury having bigger bargaining chips than he had previously. If Team-Fury were being completely transparent than they would even have to admit that the Lineal title status is not enough to secure a bigger percentage of the pot especially when they know deep down, it remains vacant.
Looking at the bigger picture beyond the Fury-Wilder rematch, negotiations are going to be very difficult. Joshua with Sky Sports and Eddie Hearn; Fury with BT Sport, ESPN, Frank Warren and Arum while Wilder is with Haymon and Finkle.
Although Hearn would prefer AJ to fight on DAZN he is not affiliated to that network so maybe a deal could be agreed with Fury at some stage? For instance, they fight on one network in the UK (Sky) and the other in the US (ESPN) with a rematch clause that does the reversal? That is of course if Hearn and Warren can put their differences to one-side for the greater good of their fighters and us fans?
Common sense and logic will prevail, but unfortunately greed and jealousy will always be present, which isn’t too different from the politics in Britain.
Boxit: Fight or no-fight deal? I’m none the wiser but will remain optimistic
@JohnnoSE23 Sounds out…
As we wait for the official announcement of the underwhelming matchup between Anthony Joshua and Jarrell Miller this week it’s hard not to think of what might have been.
Eddie Hearn has done a great job with the “Manchester City” of boxing, Joshua but a fight in the states against the overly sized American with a big mouth Miller is not good enough, even if it does give Joshua more exposer to an American audience.
The unified heavyweight world champion did have other credible opponents beyond Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder and in my opinion, Miller was not one of them.
Although ‘Baby’ Miller does somehow feature quite highly in the rankings it’s guys like Dillian Whyte, Kubrat Pulev (IBF Mandatory) or Luis Ortiz who would have been a more plausible defense on British soil even in a smaller venue.
Hearn should take huge credit for guiding ‘AJ’ to supersonic superstardom, but that status does come with its own complications. Manchester City of the Premier League are one of, if not the richest football clubs in the world today with their endless pot of money. When City step into the transfer market they almost always overpay on transfer fees, players wages and most irritatingly of all a player’s agents’ percentage.
I’m sure it drives Manager Pep Guardiola barmy with the mind-boggling amounts of money these agents squeeze out of his club but that’s the nature of the business. If Pep identifies a target, then the club will battle tooth and nail to get that player even if they must pay well over the odds.
Hearn and Joshua are now in the Man City business and fighters like Whyte deserved to be compensated handsomely after he produced the goods last year and at the back end of 2017. The rematch clause may have been a stumbling block but let’s face it, it’s all gone tits up! I’m sure an extra few million could have completed that deal even with a poor rematch clause in place.
The same goes for Wilder and Fury, most of us with common sense will see a 50/50 split as unjust considering that Joshua holds three of the four major titles but if you don’t pay over the odds these guys will price themselves out. A few straps of gold are not enough these days as money talks and in turn creates legacies, like it or lump it.
Even someone like Fury who recently gave his earnings from the Wilder fight to charity would demand a hefty sum. Frank Warren will not just roll over and accept small change just like a football agent wouldn’t for one of his players joining a mega rich club like Man City. He will try and squeeze as much dough out of Hearn as he possibly can.
Fans do not care about how much money a fighter is getting or percentage splits we just want to see the best fight the best. The only money we give a monkeys about is the money we have to pay to watch our favourite fighters.
No matter what side of the fence you sit on we can all agree on one thing, we all want to see these fights so we can finally see who best heavyweight is. And I’m not taking about fighting each other once, we want to see Joshua, Whyte, Fury and Wilder battle it out a couple of times and let’s see who comes out on top!
@JohnnoSE23 Seconds out…
This Saturday night at the O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, EBU European Super Welterweight Champion Sergio Garcia (29-0, 13KOs) produced a performance that can only be compared to a matador slaughtering a bull in a bullring.
Hometown fighter Ted Cheeseman was hoping to impress on the big stage in front of a decent sized crowd but it was the excellent Garcia that stole the limelight.
From the very first bell the Spaniard was on the ascendancy with a high punch volume in a frantic three minutes.
Garcia continued this ferocious pace throughout the fight showing great footwork and an impressive variety of shots which Cheeseman was either unable to respond to or his game-plan wasn’t working?
By round six the fan favourite was getting desperate and more tired than the champ who landed with a beautifully timed right hand.
The 23-year-old was starting to look dejected and needed a spark which came in the eighth round. An excellent right, left and uppercut combination looked to finally have rocked Garcia but the Cantabrian finished the round strong.
It was brave and ballsy from Cheeseman but from this point on Garcia was comfortable, fluid and relaxed in every round, even when he did get caught. It was almost matador-like as he mixed up his shot beautifully before moving out of danger.
In the last couple of rounds the British champion showed unbelievable courage in hope for landing one big shot, even though the fight was up. El Niño just continued with the Pasadoble dance before allowing his bull to walk off disheveled and in disarray.
Sometimes world rankings can be deceiving but the 26-year-olds eleventh spot really is granted. The European champion will be remembered for the beating he dished out on Cheeseman and with Sergio Martínez behind him it won’t be long before he is given a World title shot.
Young Ted Cheeseman should not feel ashamed with his performance and he will learn more from this defeat than any of his other victories. The Millwall fan needs to go back the to the drawing board and defend his British title with the plan of winning it outright.
There are plenty of domestic bouts out there with fighters like Anthony Fowler, Scott Fitzgerald, Jason Welborn and Sam Eggington to name just a few. These British rivalries will be the perfect experience for such a young, tough, brave and skilful fighter like Cheeseman.
On the undercard Light-Heavyweight Craig ‘Spider’ Richards stopped Jake Ball in the third round of a scheduled 10.
Lawrence Okolie also stopped Tamas Lodi in three while Felix Cash and Fabio Wardley finished off Rasheed Abolaji and Morgan Dessaux in one.
@JohnnoSE23 Seconds out…
Recently crowned British Super Welterweight Champion Ted Cheeseman (15-0, 9KOs) will be taking a calculated but educated risk this Saturday night when he attempts to dethrone the EBU European title holder Sergio Garcia (28-0, 13Kos) at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, England.
With just 15 professional fights to his name and at the tender age of just 23, Cheeseman could have decided to take a more domestic route with the aim of capturing the Lonsdale belt outright. Instead ‘The Big Cheese’ has opted to establish himself on the European stage against a tricky opponent.
Not many will know much about Garcia outside of Spain but he does have the former middleweight superstar Sergio Martinez behind him, which will give him some valuable knowledge and experience in his corner.
Spain’s number one at 154-pounds has fought 28 times without defeat and calculated a total of 176 rounds with a 46% knockout ratio. The 26-year-old from Cantabria, in the north of Spain, stands at 5’ 11” and has a combined opponent record of 268-291-36.
El Nino, is the first ever Cantabrian to be a European titlist after picking up the strap last year against Frenchman Maxime Beaussire in his hometown. Zakaria Attou was the initial champion but he had to pull out 8-days before the fight due to a cut in sparring. It was a one sided dominant display by Garcia but Beaussire was game enough to force the fight to the judges scorecards.
British ranked No.3 Ted Cheeseman had an excellent 2018 recording victories over Carson Jones, Paul Upton and Asinia Byfield. The Bermondsey-puncher has a combined opponent record of 181-105-13 in just 15 fights, giving away almost 100 rounds of experience to his Spanish opponent, totalling only 79 but has a 60% knockout ratio.
Whether the extra rounds will prove pivotal only time will tell but Garcia is fighting on foreign soil for the first time in his career and has fought the lesser opposition.
This will be the first time both fighters have headlined in an area this big so it might be a case of who has the mental toughness to deal with the atmosphere and occasion rather than the physical battle. Team-Cheeseman would do well to tap into another hot potential in Lewis Ritson for guidance and advice after he allowed his European dream to slip away last year on his showcase night.
Garcia is here to establish himself in front of a British audience and goes into the fight as the underdog even though he is the champion. This really is a risky move by Cheeseman but his experience from last year should give him the edge.
The young Londoner has a bit of everything, he can box clever on the outside and mix it up in close quarters plus he’s showed a solid chin against decent opposition.
As long as Cheeseman doesn’t look beyond Garcia and underestimate the champion which I don’t think he will, I’m going for the Millwall favourite to produce a career best performance and end the fight by stoppage in between rounds 8 and 10.
Also on the bill we have an intriguing match-up in the Light-Heavyweight division between Craig Richards (13-1, 7KOs) and Jake Ball (12-1, 9KOs). There’s been a bit of needle in the build-up so expect fireworks for the potential fight of the night.
The rest of the undercard features Lawrence Okolie, Felix Cash, Scott Fitzgerald and much more.
Enjoy the fights!! Seconds out…
Modern day society has an uncomfortable knack of elevating their idols to hasty levels before promptly bursting their bubble with as much pleasure as they did watching them grow. We live in an unforgiving and throw away world that love to see successful athletes fail.
Believe it or not things haven’t changed that much compared to days gone-by, although it was the shady but somehow respected writers that would spread their poison back then. Today we can read and listen to several different opinions from guys that are less knowledgeable on the sport of boxing but have enough of a social following to exploit our younger generation and naive listeners.
Back in the late 1950’s going into a defining era of heavyweight boxing – the 1960’s – WBC champion Floyd Patterson was being guided by Cus D’Amato. Sonny Liston was being avoided and denied his opportunity of a title shot because he was as dangerous in the ring as he was perceived in life. After a long wait Liston finally got his chance and he demolished the heavyweight darling, Patterson in successive first round knockouts.
Moving into the end of the 60’s Jimmy Ellis held the relatively newly formed WBA version of the heavyweight strap; his trainer Angelo Dundee did his best to avoid WBC champion Joe Frazier but after a couple of years Ellis was forced to step-up to the plate and was eventually blown away within 4-rounds.
Both fights took a while to agree and all fighters involved suffered from public criticism which can be compared with today’s era, although the shocking material that was printed back than makes social media look like a tea party with the Queen.
AJ and Hearn out of favour…
In the summer of 2012 Anthony Joshua picked up a gold medal for Team GB and was automatically accepted with open arms not only by the boxing community but by a proud nation. The now unified heavyweight champion was as articulate and professional 6-years ago as he is today, without the guidance of Matchroom boxing’s Eddie Hearn.
Promoters across Britain and overseas vigorously fought for his signature with the hope that he would someday become the new face of boxing. In the end it was of course the confident and brash Essex bloke that managed to knock him bandy and capture his most significant signing.
So, 22-fights and 21-knockouts later what has changed so dramatically that has turned fans against Joshua? Is it because the Londoner hasn’t managed to get a unification with Wilder or agree a fight with Fury? I’m sure most anti-Joshua and Hearn fans would allude to that very reason but that is nothing more than smoke screen as the proof is in the résumé which speaks for itself, or does it?
Established promoters and Ex-Pros impact opinions…
Respected promoter Bob Arum recently made a bizarre statement that Joshua has fought “no hopers.” Granted Charles Martin was easy pickings, but it was only his fifteenth professional fight and to call Breazeale, Parker, Whyte and Povetkin no hopers is odd considering they all feature in the world’s top 10 and that’s without mentioning Klitschko, so you must question his judgement.
Another established name in the boxing business is the former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis who has been open with his views in a recent blog on his League of Champions website – which is a good read by the way – Lewis continues to point the finger towards Joshua & Hearn for not agreeing terms with Team-Wilder. Here’s some snippets from his blog:
“Once he [Joshua] becomes a champion, there is no more learning on the job with lower opponents. He’s going to have to start fighting the upper level competition. By becoming a champion, you put a target on your back. When you’re the king, and at top of the mountain, everybody wants to call you out from your throne, and you have to be ready each and every time. It’s the nature of the life.
“I find it a bit difficult to understand why Joshua wasn’t as pressed to lift that WBC belt from Wilder as he was to get the IBF belt from Charles Martin.”
Lewis continued, “Based on what I’ve heard, my opinion was that Joshua and Hearn needed to step up their game if this fight was going to happen.”
This is just an opinion of a respected ex-pro not factual in any shape or form but the problem is when established promoters or ex-pros say certain things about a specific fighter telling only one side of the story, than certain “Paid keyboard warriors” – in Lewis’ own words – will try to convince the less knowledgeable that Joshua has been fighting at a lower level than Wilder and Fury. Why does he not make any comparison with the level that Wilder has fought at since winning the “Crown Jewel, WBC belt.”
I completely agree that these big fights need to happen but Wilder has had that target on his back a lot longer than Joshua and has been able to defend his title against average opponents. Why didn’t his team try and unify against Charles Martin or Joseph Parker. The reason is because Martin wanted too much money so why didn’t they up their game?
Lewis disagreed with the flat fee offer last year, calling it “nonsense” before going on to say:
“Wilder is the WBC World Heavyweight Champion of the World. He holds the crown jewel in heavyweight boxing. He’s not a contender.
“I think, in the event that both, Joshua and Wilder, are able to remain undefeated and face each other for the undisputed title, that the proper splits should be around 60/40 – 55/45 in Joshua’s favour for the first bout and 60/40 for the winner of first bout in a rematch.”
Trouble is Wilder has already stated that he will not take anything less than 50/50 now, which sort of puts this theory to bed. Also, if Tyson does repeat or improve on his performance against Wilder than the American won’t have any bargaining chips left once he loses his title. He will have to accept whatever dosh is offered to him as a contender. Lewis calls AJ the “A side”, which is correct as he is the unified champion so what happens when Fury or Wilder say 50/50 or no fight? Who do you blame than?
Successful, too quickly?
The problem with Joshua is success has been his downfall. He has probably over achieved so fans expect that bar to be raised every time he steps into the ring, whether that be his performance or opponent. What Joshua has accomplished in such a short space of time with a professional manner, a polished demeanour and role model for our young aspiring fighters isn’t enough to keep all the fans and journalists on side because the world is obsessed with finding a bit of dirt on someone.
A successful story doesn’t sell as much as a disastrous one. Take Tyson Fury for example, he was the man that reached the pinnacle of his career when he became the king of the heavyweight division. It was an amazing and defining night in Düsseldorf for the Manchester man, but he crumbled into chaos.
The People’s Champion?
Thankfully Fury has since turned his life around dramatically and been a good advocate for mental health awareness. What Tyson has done with his life has been nothing short of exceptional but for Frank Warren to go as far as calling him the ‘People’s Champion’ is little far-fetched. For all the great things Fury has done for mental health he cannot be excused for his outrageous remarks about a true ‘People’s Champion’ in Jessica Ennis-Hill, or for his extreme homophobic and anti-Semitic opinions.
Ok, so it was a few years ago and people do change for the better but while Fury was testing positive for PED’s, snorting cocaine to combat his depression, and falling out of nightclubs, Joshua was training hard with the hope of replicating what Fury had achieved. The self-proclaimed ‘Gypsy King’ was the target for big Josh and he made sacrifices to get himself into the position he is in today.
Boxing was booming before AJ came onto the scene but he has elevated the sport to titanic proportions and he deserves a lot more respect than he’s getting. Maybe he should beat up his misses, take some steroids, threaten to kill someone in the ring or prance around on social media flashing his millions while dropping a few racial slurs, then repent all his sins and finally be accepted as a man of the people?
Boxing has a long History…
All I’m saying is don’t allow others to sway your judgement, be open-minded and do your own research as the chances are you will probably discover it’s all a load of old codswallop.
Dig deep into the history of this great noble sport by picking up a few books instead of watching endless brainwashing videos on YouTube. The history is endless and you will learn something new everyday.
After gazing into my crystal ball…
With Fury-Wilder 2 set after the WBC ordered a rematch, AJ will need to find an alternative opponent. Rumours are surfacing that Jarrell Miller is the front runner for a fight in the States, which I’m not keen on personally and it won’t keep the haters quiet.
On the other hand, I can see Joshua-Whyte at Wembley with Usyk-Povetkin as the co-main event. These 2-fights on the same night would be a huge statement by Hearn and would bring the fans swarming to England’s National Stadium as well as keeping the doubters on the shelf for a short while at least.
After another successful year of boxing in 2018 there is a sense of optimism for the year ahead among boxing fans that 2019 might just be the year that the top fighters finally step up and fight each other.
Here is a run-down of 19 fights that would shape 2019 into a great year domestically and internationally:
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) vs Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39Kos):
Heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua taking on WBC champion Deontay Wilder is the biggest fight in boxing now. With all the shenanigans that went on last year this fight lost a bit of sparkle as disgruntled fans started to lose faith. Surely both sides can let bygones be bygones and finally allow this titanic battle to commence for the right to be recognized as the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) vs Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19KOs):
If undisputed can’t be delivered, then the next big fight in the Heavyweight division is AJ verses Tyson Fury. This would be the biggest Heavyweight fight in Britain since Lennox Lewis beat Frank Bruno in 1993. There is even a case to be made that this fight is bigger than that and would in fact be ranked higher than any other British fight in history! A huge claim indeed but this really is a fight of epic proportions and should be the signed this year if all else fails.
Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19KOs) vs Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39Kos) – REMATCH:
After the first controversial matchup between Fury and Wilder a rematch should probably take president over any other. If both feel it necessary to tango again then the winner will be in pole position to face Joshua at the back end of the year.
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) vs Dillian Whyte (25-1, 18KOs):
If Fury and Wilder do choose a rematch as their first option, then that leaves the unified world champion without a dance partner. In an ideal world the obvious choice would be Dillian Whyte. Wembley is booked and ready to go for the third encounter between two guys that have had a turbulent history. Ideally Joshua-Whyte and Wilder-Fury 2 in the first half of the year with the winners fighting each other at the end of the year for boxing’s biggest prize, although rematch agreements could end up scarpering this master plan.
Daniel Dubois (9-0, 8KOs) vs Nathan Gorman (15-0, 11KOs):
On the domestic scene a fight between two up and coming Heavyweights Dubois and Gorman is starting to heat up. They have understandably been kept apart by Frank Warren but it’s inevitable that sooner or later they will collide so why not this year?
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11KOs) vs Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs):
The WBA Light Heavyweight champion Bivol is a clear talent but is missing that signature fight that he craves. His Russian compatriot and IBF title holder Beterbiev was one of the most avoided fighters in 2018. There is no better time for both guys to establish themselves as the divisions Numero uno. How about from Russia with Love in Moscow?
Joshua Buatsi (9-0, 7KOs) vs Anthony Yarde (17-0, 16KOs):
Here’s another domestic tear-up that will give you the giddies. Olympic bronze medalist in 2016 ‘JB’ has looked impressive with every fight in the pros but needs a tasty and significant opponent. ‘The Beast’ as Yarde likes to be known opted against the big fights turning down Kovalev and Beterbiev last year. If Yarde wants to prove himself then Buatsi would be the perfect fit.
Callum Johnson (17-1, 12KOs) vs Joshua Buatsi (9-0, 7KOs):
Buatsi expressed his desire to fight Yarde last year but the BBBofC are reportedly ready to sanction British Champion Callum ‘The One’ Johnson against Buatsi. If the rumour is correct and the Scottish puncher decides to defend his title, then hold on to your hats fight fans as this one could be an absolute banger!
Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs) vs Saul Alverez (51-1-2, 35KOs) 3:
Many will question if a trilogy between ‘Triple G’ and Canelo is worth stomaching again. Certainly not if they produce another 12-rounds like the 24 we have already witnessed but more to do with the obscene judging. If they do decide to do it again then let’s just hope that this fight isn’t over shadowed with controversy.
Callum Smith (25-0, 18KOs) vs Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs):
If Golovkin he is made to wait, then why not take a step up in the 168-pound division and take on WBA Super Middleweight Champion and Muhammed Ali Trophy winner Callum Smith. The pull of a 50,000 strong Anfield, Liverpool crowd would be appealing for the summer. Triple G has already proven that he is willing to come to England, where as Canelo would demand Vegas.
Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13KOs) vs Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29KOs):
In 2017 Saunders produced a superb performance against David Lemieux on December 16 which should have been the catalyst to push on last year. Instead, a failed drugs test and loss of the WBO Middleweight title has left the 29-year-old in no man’s land. If anyone could give Saunders a lifeline, it would be someone like Jacobs who is keen to prove he is the number one challenger to Triple G and Canelo.
Jarret Hurd (23-0, 16KOs) vs Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26KOs):
WBA ‘Super’ Light Middleweight champ Hurd and WBO holder Munguia were both impressive last year. Many would argue the two best at 154-pounds so what about a unification? Come fight night this would look more like a super middleweight showdown but who cares as this has the markings of a real barnstormer of a bout.
Anthony Fowler (9-0, 8KOs) vs Ted Cheeseman (15-0, 9KOs):
Both Light Middleweights had good years in 2018 and have since been engaged in a social media spat. Londoner Cheeseman has been in the pro game for 2-years longer, but Fowler is the more decorated amateur which makes this an even-steven fight. The Liverpudlian needs to get past Scott Fitzgerald in March first but if he is successful then how about a summer showdown against the British Champion. The ‘Big Cheese’ is a massive Millwall fan so why not headline at The Den in front of 20-15 thousand?
Johnny Garton (23-1-1, 10KOs) vs Conor Benn (13-0, 9KOs):
From one Millwall fan to another, British Welterweight Champion Garton who was in one of the fights of the year in 2018 against Gary Corcoran. ‘The Pexican’ is in fine form since his solitary defeat to Sam Eggington back in 2014 and has shot up the rakings. Josh Kelly was a name that has been mentioned but for pure excitement why not Essex-boy Conor Benn? This would be a contender for domestic fight of the year in a 2019 bloodbath, if it was to happen. Make this a co-main event with Cheeseman-Fowler and we have a brilliant night of boxing, mark my words.
Terrence Crawford (34-0, 25KOs) vs Errol Spence Jr (24-0, 21KOs):
What an unbelievable fight this would be and one that would generate as much money as it would publicity. WBO Welterweight champion Crawford is many boxing observers pound-for-pound number one or at least in the top 3. Spence Jr had a quiet year for a fighter of his standards but starts off 2019 against world-class operator Mikey Garcia in March. This fight should happen at the end of the year but the murmurs of “let it marinade” might put this on ice for another year.
Amir Khan (33-4, 20KOs) vs Kell Brook (38-2, 26KOs):
This will not be the first time this fight has cropped up on many fans wish list, but we are always let down and made to wait. Optimism was in the air when Khan signed with Eddie Hearn but once again we are still no closer to getting what the British public want. Rumor has it that the 32-year-old will fight Crawford instead of Brook early this year. Hearn has since snapped up the signature of former British Light Middleweight World champion Liam Smith with maybe a fight with Brook in-mind. Khan-Brook may still happen later in the year otherwise this fight is dead in the water, that is if it isn’t already.
Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9KOs) vs Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30KOs):
Ever heard of a saying, “Chance will be a fine thing”? Well, that expression couldn’t be any more fitting when dreaming of Loma and Garcia sharing the same ring at Lightweight. It would be an absolute pleasure watching these two technicians work inside the squared circle. Outside of the Heavyweights this epic bout would be the next big thing. The Ukrainian is running out of opponents to face but you can’t blame Garcia for wanting to challenge himself against not only a guy who is 2-weights above but also against an excellent fighter in Spence Jr. If the current WBC Champion can pull off an upset at 147-pounds, then he may never come back down to 135 leaving all hopes of a fight with Loma in shatters. Where chances are fine there is always hope as “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible”?
Josh Warrington (28-0, 6KOs) vs Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19KOs):
There is a number of excellent fighters in the Featherweight division with three world class talents in Valdez, Santa Cruz and Russell Jr but a new star was born last year in Warrington. For a long time Frampton, Quigg and Selby were considered to be Britain’s best but after a super 2018 the ‘Leeds Warrior’ has jumped into the number one spot in the U.K. Warrington would be a tough out for all three of the top guys but imagine the new IBF champion squaring off against the Mexican. Both will want to engage in a toe to toe battle making this one a little more appetising.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41KOs) vs Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20KOs):
WBC Super Flyweight holder Rungvisai against the IBF Champion Ancajas would be a terrific battle of the little men. With 85 fights and 61 knockouts between them this would be a terrific unification fight that has all the ingredients needed to be one of the fights of the year.
Other fights that just miss the list;
Gervonta Davis vs Miguel Berchelt, Santa Cruz vs Russell Jr, Eleider Alvarez vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Oleksandr Usyk against any of the top Heavyweights.
Of course these are just my opinions with many more other fights that would also make this year a great one. Boxing is booming right now and we already have the World Boxing Super Series, semifinals to look forward to which could top the lot!
Happy New Year Boxing Fans!