Being hospitalised last week I missed Sky’s Pay per view
telecast of the event in Saudi Arabia in which Anthony Joshua regained
his various world heavyweight title belts. Understandably the
cash-strapped NHS opted not to fork out the eye-watering fee
of just short of 30 quid to allow us the privilege of watching
Britain’s former Olympic champion overcome a little fat Tex-Mex Andy
Joshua won at a canter in dull fight with Ruiz offering little except a performance which suggested he was auditioning for a role in pantomime with the Roly Polys.
Dull?? So I gathered when talking to pals who had been at ringside just outside the Saudi capital Riyadh or watching from home on the box. Yet that was not the impression I gathered from listening to the radio broadcast from my hospital bedI. It was made out to be an exciting slugfest. For once the BBC was 0TT, which is usually the situation when Sky’s cheerleaders get to twirl their batons.
But it did make a change to listen to a sports broadcast on the radio taking me back to days well beyond even the advent of black-and-white TV when, as schoolboy, I listened to big fights such as those between Sugar Ray Robinson and Randolph Turpin, and Freddie Mills and Bruce Woodcock.
There is no doubt these were genuinely exciting and whetted my appetite for a sport which I have covered for well over half a century.
It is believed that 30-year-old Joshua will receive a mind-boggling £60 million when all the receipts are gathered in.
Was he worth it? Fans will make their own judgement of that. He certainly deployed the right tactics this time, jabbing and moving to win by a wide margin on points against an opponent who had floored him four times when they met in New York last summer. Yet, as Frank Warren says, Ruiz disgraced himself and boxing, admitting that he had barely prepared for the contest. He was overweight, sluggish with no sense of timing. There was no ambition whatsoever.
Sure AJ now has plenty of that left, with mandatory defences of two of the three belts he regained looming and a prospective showdown to completely unify the titles with the winner of the forthcoming rematch between Deontay Wilder and his own British rival Tyson Fury.
I was asked by fellow patients who also listened to the contest how Joshua would fare against either of them. Well, I think he would get beaten. Simple as that.
Fury would have the good sense not to mix it with him, using his own guile, height and boxing ability to frustrate the Londoner whose Second Coming was hailed by promoter Barry Hearn as the greatest resurrection since that one 2000 years ago.
Yet in my view – and that of many other critics – is Joshua remains vulnerable and no one is better equipped than Wilder to emphasise that vulnerability. Wilder’s right hand has the-power of a bull elephant and the venom of a cobra’s spit.
I doubt Joshua could avoid taking it on the chin. So far no one has although Fury did get up to earn a draw, a verdict that really should’ve gone in his favour.
The Saudi happening was well received and passed without incident in a specially built a
sports complex that is an oasis in the desert of discrimination. This was a point made many times during the build up to the contest. Many heads were conveniently buried in the sand while Joshua-himself refused to get involved in any politics saying “I’ve been made aware of the issues but I can only go on what on what I have experienced.”
The Saudi regime seems determined to use sport to convince the sceptics that they are making progress on the human rights front and indeed there hsve been advances.
In time there is little doubt that we shall see more major events staged on the burning sands.
Meantime those sands will be shifting in the heavyweight division which currently is it is as fascinating as that in the days of Ali, Foreman, Frazier etc.
Add Joe Joyce, Queensberry’s Olympic silver medallist, to the list of contenders and there is a prospect of a heavyweight merry-go-round that could last well into the Roaring Twenties.
And waiting patiently in the wings, flexing his bulging biceps and banging his gloves together is the young man who eventually could prove to be the nemesis of them all.
Daniel Dubois , surely is the brightest prospect on the boxings heavyweight horizon. His thunderclap punching is the talk of the game, and punters who are not already aware of this should take their seats at the Copper Box in London or on their chairs in front of BT’s exclusive telecast on Saturday (21st December) when in his 14th contest the new British champion from Greenwich faces one of the big beasts from the East, the Japanese and Asian king in Kyotaro Fujimoto.
One thing is certain. It will be no pussyfooting posing or prancing from Dynamite Dan. He likes to take care of business as quickly and briskly as he can. Outside of Wilder there is no heavier hitter around at the moment and his old fashioned one-two finishes can be spectacular.
The Japanese, a rarity as heavyweight from the land of fragrant cherry blossom and the ever Rising Sun is is an unknown quantity over here. But I am told he can be nimble and dangerous and Dubois will not want to block his so far unblemished a copy book.
It will not be long before he is up there ready to mix it with the world’s top heavyweights. I reckon he could knock out Joshua now and is rumoured to have done so in the gym in training. The big cheeses in the heavyweight division should beware.That dynamite fuse is burning fast.