By Frank Warren
THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT boxing season is nearly upon us
The world will be watching when the big men unleash the big bombs and the sport of boxing will return to the forefront of public imagination. People sit up and take notice when the heavy mob comes out to play and boxing returns to the back pages.
First up, on Saturday, Anthony Joshua will start the party when he obliges his WBO mandatory challenge from fellow Olympic gold medallist Oleksandr Usyk in an encounter that is not short on peril for the once-defeated Joshua.
The old adage dictates a good big ‘un generally beats a good little ‘un and that theory has, for the most part, stood the test of time. Both Joshua and Usyk are good, that is for sure, but we all know the Englishman will enjoy the physical advantages.
Some pictures lead us to believe that the Ukrainian is filling out into a heavyweight frame and this will probably help him in terms of absorbing any punishment but, you have to imagine, that if Joshua lands clean he will be in trouble regardless of any bulking up.
A concern for the Joshua camp will be, if Usyk is still hanging in there in the later rounds, the chances are he might well have built up a handy lead on the cards with his superior fighting craft. Don’t get me wrong, Joshua is no one-trick pony, but Usyk is an elite-level boxer, albeit at cruiserweight.
It is a lack of real evidence of Usyk as a heavyweight that makes this fight a tricky one to fathom in terms of working out which way it will go. You cannot rule out the possibility of Usyk completely outboxng the champion while, likewise, Joshua knocking him out inside a few rounds and people wondering what all the fuss was about.
Personally, I am firmly on the side of Joshua in this one and not just out of national loyalty.
Two weeks later in Las Vegas the world’s No.1 heavyweight and WBC champion Tyson Fury returns to the ring for his trilogy match against Deontay Wilder, which you can witness live on BT Sport Box Office following on from our show in Birmingham earlier in the evening.
Make no bones about it, we want Tyson to fight Joshua next in an epic all-British world heavyweight title collision that will bring the country to a standstill and dominate the news agenda for weeks on end.
You simply couldn’t have imagined, when we brought Tyson back in the middle of 2018, that by this point in time he would be preparing for a third fight with the former WBC champion. The really remarkable thing in all this is that he jumped in with the most ferocious puncher in the business less than six months after his comeback fight in Manchester against Sefer Seferi.
A few people in the sport suggested it was some sort of publicity stunt and it would never happen, but here we are approaching Take Three of the Trilogy with Wilder desperate to regain some credibility after being completely bullied by Tyson in February 2020.
The only shame is that the pandemic has prolonged the process and delayed other big fights being made.
But we are where we are and the fans have got two massive heavyweight fights to look forward to over the next few weeks.
It doesn’t stop there. Our interest in the heavyweight division extends beyond Tyson right at the top of the pile. Across November-December we will be bringing both Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois back into the fold and the two of them are in a fantastic position to make an assault on the champion or champions.
Joe is in pole position with the WBO but wants to continue in meaningful fights until he is granted his mandatory shot at the winner of Joshua-Usyk, with the call anticipated some time next year.
The spanner in the works for this heavyweight jigsaw would be Usyk emerging victorious but then being bound and bogged down by the interminable rematch clauses, which shouldn’t really come into play for mandatory matches.
Whether the governing bodies would stand for this and leave their belts on the line remains to be seen.
Daniel Dubois is closing in on a shot for the WBA title and, with the body putting its house in order and reducing the belts on offer, he will be put forward to fight for the world title against current champion Trevor Bryan. Success there would see him mandated to fight the super champion, which is currently Joshua.
So the going is about to get heavy and we as fans are in for a big fighting feast as we close in on Christmas.