By Frank Warren
FRESH LIFE WILL be injected into world heavyweight boxing this weekend, regardless who wins the rematch out of the champion Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua over in Jeddah.
Once this particular duel is finally done and dusted, a clutch of highly talented, younger generation heavyweight contenders come into play.
I am not knocking Joshua because you fall into your era of competition, but his best and most convincing wins have come against opponents who were at least knocking 40 or had gone past the point of life begins…
Go back to his first real test in Wladimir Klitschko – who was also inactive for a couple of years – Carlos Takam, Alexander Povetkin and Kubrat Pulev. None of them in the first flush of youth.
The slightly younger ones, such as Andy Ruiz and Usyk (who is 35) have given him bother.
So should Joshua manage to turn the tables on Saturday night, as I very much hope he will, the younger beasts of the division will be lining up waiting their turn to take him on.
Take out any home nation bias and, truth be told, Joshua is again going to be up against it in Saudi attempting to overcome a master craftsman who has barely put a fist wrong across a glorious career.
Size does matter in boxing, but to what extent when you are up against a genius of the ring?
We shouldn’t forget that these Eastern European thoroughbreds we put on a pedestal had hundreds of amateur fights under their belts before they even considered turning pro. Usyk had a record of 335-15, Vasiliy Lomachenko 396-1 and Gennady Golovkin 345-5, just to give you a snapshot of what I am talking about.
Joshua had a record of something like 40-3, so there is an obvious shortfall in pedigree, despite being only three years younger than the current champion.
I hear the case for Joshua pulling off a revenge mission. ‘He’s got to stick it on ‘im and be smart about it’, being the most popular. I’d go along with this to a large extent, but purely because there isn’t much else he can do.
What Joshua does have is a good old fashioned puncher’s chance. No matter what direction the fight is heading, if he lands clean on Usyk and follows up with a barrage of well-timed punches, Joshua can bring home the bling.
If he doesn’t, I wouldn’t imagine he can outwork and outthink the man in possession.
I am very much looking forward to the fight and I will be chipping in my Box Office dues. In fights like this I tend to watch through a Queensberry lense and consider what it could all mean for our fighters.
The Tyson Fury fight is an obvious by-product of this encounter and we should have a clearer picture on what Tyson feels about it all next week. That would be THE fight to make against the winner and there will be a public clamour for it to happen.
Then we have got the next wave of contenders, including our own Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois. I know Joe is no spring chicken, age-wise, but he is in terms of experience and miles on the clock.
Both of our guys are set for a shot at the champion, Joe via his WBO ranking and Daniel through him holding the WBA world title belt. Also waiting in the wings is Filip Hrgovic, who fights an IBF final eliminator on Saturday and Bob Arum has a young man called Jared Anderson, who Tyson rates very highly.
This is some of the new blood coming through, but I am obviously not discounting the likes of Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte or Joseph Parker.
There are so many big fights to be made, which is why we need the belts to remain active so we can make it all become a reality. I know people are big on unifications or undisputed fights, but what you don’t want is a closed shop with a champion fighting once a year.
Having four champions again and then working towards one wouldn’t be such a bad place for the heavyweight division to be in, hopefully after Tyson has achieved complete dominance.
First of all though, let’s all hope that AJ can win his belts back against all odds. Myself, my armchair and a mug of cocoa will be parked firmly in his corner on Saturday night.