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.