On March 3, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder increased his stock exponentially by taking out Luis Ortiz in spectacular fashion in a war that may end up being “Fight of the Year.” Wilder’s performance greatly intensified the demand to see him in the ring with Anthony Joshua.
Now Joshua, whom I call “Boxing’s Bomb Cyclone,” can probably draw 90,000 if he fights Hughie Fury at Wembley Stadium and well over 100,000—if such a venue existed– if he ever fought Hughie’s cousin Tyson Fury (who is fast getting back into shape). Indeed, a fight between A.J. and Tyson Fury would be the biggest fight in British boxing history. Some say Fury is the best boxer, Wilder has the best power, and AJ is a mixture of the two.
Make no mistake, when AJ enters the ring and thousands of adoring fans react with lengthy cheers, the tingle in there; it’s palpable
the anticipation is not about “if,” it’s about “how” and “when.” There is a predictability to Joshua that detracts from the buzz. The expectation is that AJ will methodically break his opponent down with solid fundamental skills and, if he hurts him, will close quickly and definitively.
What most of Joshua’s opponents have not provided thus far is an expectation of unpredictability. Wladimir Klitschko and possibly Dillian Whyte were the exceptions, but opponents like Carlos Takam, Eric, Molina, Dominic Breazeale, Charles Martin and all of his others did not create a buzz—that is, an anticipation of the unexpected. Fans expected them to be stopped and they were. Only Takam offered surprises and those were mostly in his ability to survive as long as he did.
Yes, AJ has charisma and he will be the “A Side” if he meets Wilder. He brings more money and has more belts. A side… B side… who really cares? It’s just great that the heavies are exciting again.
That said, however, Wilder simply has more charisma and it seems to derive from his brash personality as much as from the flaws that exist in the way he fights. Wilder can be out-boxed for several rounds and then, like a strike of lightning, see an opening and throw one of his electric rights. Just like that, the fight is over. Sure, he unleashes windmills, but when he has his opponent in trouble, he gets the job done in spectacular fashion. His KO of Artur Szpilka was both spectacular and frightening as “The Pin” had to be stretchered out.
With Wilder, it’s almost as much about “if” as “how” and “when.’ His wind-milling gets him into vulnerable situations and that’s where the “if” plays out. He throws punches so hard that he often finds himself off-balance. That’s where the buzz is, in the possibility that the Bronze Bomber might get countered and be taken out. Fans sometimes call this wild and unprofessional. “It is basic boxing fundamentals to ‘defend yourself at all times,’ but Wilder struggles to do this,” says Alan Dawson. “When he is off-balance, with his chin in the air, it leaves him vulnerable to a knockout from an elite, polished champion like Joshua.”
So far, Deontay’s lack of polish and technical skills have gotten him a 40-0 record. He is a balls-to-the-wall fire-shooter who can win a fight at any second of any round, including the last. He is EXCITING because he is vulnerable. And that’s why he has more buzz than AJ. Heck, he is just more fun to watch.
Joshua fights Joseph Parker later this month and must beat Parker to ensure that we get an AJ vs Wilder match. Both are affable. Both have power. Both can be hurt.
Jamie Moore, the trainer of former two-division world champion Carl Frampton, cautions that Parker is not an easy fight for Anthony Joshua. “Parker is tougher than most people expect and I can see him causing AJ a few problems,” he says. “Of course, it could be over with one punch with the power of Joshua.”
Promoter and trainer David Coldwell dissents. “I think he [AJ] absolutely smashes him to bits,” said Coldwell “I just don’t think Parker’s in his league, to be honest.”
I tend to agree with Coldwell, but whatever the case, the buzz for Joshua-Parker will not be the same as for Joshua-Wilder. Not even close.
Photo credit: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME
Ted Sares is one of the oldest full power lifters in the world and is a four-time winner of the EPF’s Grand Master championship. He also is a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame.
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