By Darren Paradise: The boxing community appears to be on tenterhooks in anticipation of Anthony Joshua ‘s next opponent. Who is it going to be? Luis Ortiz, Andy Ruiz, Michael Hunter? Who really cares? Surely there are only two names that can create any kind of buzz (maybe three if Oleksander Usyk’s name is thrown into the mix). We all know it is not going to be any of them, but do any of us really know why?
This one is signed with that platform, that one is signed with this platform, he is promoted by him, he is advised by him. So what? Just give the fans the fights they want to see. Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Usyk are all available for June 1st, all are in preparation for mismatches on or around that date, AJ has no advantage considering he is preparing for a mismatch of his own. Why do I get the feeling that we are just expected to accept that the best fighting the best is a thing of the past and it is left up to the casuals to anoint winners and losers amidst drunken banter.
Now approaching May, beside the one potential “super fight” between Errol Spence and multi-weight world champion Mikey Garcia, what have hardcore fight fans been treated to this year thus far? Manny Pacquiao v Adrien Broner? (Has Broner actually come to fight since 2013?) Vasyl Lomachenko v Anthony Crolla (?) Terence Crawford v Amir Khant (carry on). All is not lost maybe it’s just a slow start to the year, there could be a blockbuster or two down the line. Let’s check the schedule. The standout undoubtedly is Canelo/Jacobs which is hardly a 50/50 affair, we can then look forward to Billy Joe Saunders taking on Shefat Isufi, Tyson Fury wrestling Tom Schwarz and of course the long awaited return of Steve Rolls.
In 2016, just two years ago it was a very different story. Glorious match-ups justified PPV status. Joshua/Klitschko, Ward/Kovalev, Canelo/GGG, Thurman/Garcia, Brook/Spence the list goes on, we even had the Mayweather/McGregor bout to top off a year of boxing to remember. Will a ‘cold war’ consisting of promoter rivalries, television companies and streaming services really prevent us from ever having another unified heavyweight champion? Will it prevent us from ever seeing who rules the roost at welterweight? Most importantly, will it deny the elite of today the platform to rival achievements of legends of yesteryear by refusing to match them against one another to protect their own investments?
It sure looks like it!