Anthony Joshua’s shot at redemption and boxing’s mayhem in Upcoming Fight
In boxing’s bravest of brave new worlds, where fights and dreams mix, Anthony Joshua regains his world heavyweight title on a night of blood and awe.
Welcome to the fights and nights of 2022.
In a heavyweight division where justice is a rarity, there will hopefully be a mathematical solution for Dillian Whyte to get his world title fight. Please, don’t hold your breath; there are legal discussions taking place right now.
And in a fantasy landscape, a place where a popular and brilliant small man can be sanctioned to fight an unpopular big man, there really is no end to official novelty fights. Just about every fighter under 70 has dusted off his jockstrap in anticipation of a call.
Welcome to the professional boxing world and the blurred lines of its control in 2022; it is a vivid place for sporting dreamers, some miracle matchmaking and some essential showdowns. And the usual chancers, fixers and fakes. It has to be said that 2021 was an exceptional year for lunacy on both sides of the ropes.
It seems like every sinew of Joshua’s body has been analysed, ridiculed and insulted since the night last September when he lost his world titles to Oleksandr Usyk. Let’s be honest, nobody had anything nice to say about the big lad during and after that fight: No heart, chin, stamina, power, plan, guts, desire etc. C’mon, you know that is what everybody said.
Joshua has said the right things since the subdued performance and if he can beat Usyk, defying the bookies and critics and all sensible form lines, it would be one of boxing’s greatest tales of redemption. He can win, trust me.
Whyte will fight Tyson Fury for the WBC version of the heavyweight title if a deal between about a dozen people can be fixed; the stumbling block is cash. It is always cash. Whyte wants a percentage of the agreed purse that satisfies his pocket and soul. It’s not easy, it never is in the life and times of Whyte.
Fury will, according to his British promoter, Frank Warren, have a fight before meeting Whyte. It looks like March.
There will need to be some common sense, diplomacy and compromise before the distant sound of a faraway bell ends Whyte’s wait of about 1,500 days for his shot at the crown. It is far from a done deal, but it would be a great fight.
The world’s finest fighter, Canelo Alvarez, was offered a chance to make a bit of history when the WBC decided to sanction a planned fight between Alvarez, who unified all four belts at super-middle in his last fight, and their cruiserweight champion, Ilunga Makabu.
In 2003, Roy Jones jumped from light-heavyweight to heavyweight and beat John Ruiz for the title; Jones gained 19 pounds and he never fully recovered from the weight gain and subsequent loss when he dropped back two divisions. Alvarez would have to gain as much as 28-pounds to compete against Makubu, who must first defend his title in late January. There is also a bold plan for Alvarez to unify at light-heavyweight and that would, assuming it happened, change the lists of all-time greats forever.
Meanwhile, there will be more oddities in the game with Jake Paul, a veteran now of five fights, and Tommy Fury, who has fought seven times. The so-called celebrity or freak fights are certainly not going away and should be embraced for what they are: raw novices having a fight. No complications and no need for outrage. Paul won in Late December and did pre-fight interviews in a swimming pool wearing goggles. How can that be offensive in a business that routinely delivers life-changing bad decisions and sanctions dangerous mismatches to satisfy the darkest of hidden agendas?
The continuing Covid situation has impacted the British boxing diary with the sport suspended across the UK in Janaury. The Board, in my opinion, have been brilliant during Covid.
However, this is how it looks right now.
Chris Eubank Jr will fight Liam Williams, likely still in Cardiff, but a new date is to be agreed. It is a terrific fight, a dangerous fight for both. I have no idea what piece of meaningless jewellery is attached and I don’t care.
But the wait will be worth it come early February, in a sold-out Manchester Arena, when Amir Khan and Kell Brook finally fight. It’s still an intriguing fight. A week later, in Glasgow, Josh Taylor defends all four of his light-welterweight belts against unbeaten Jack Catterall. It could be a risk; Taylor has so much to lose and so many big fights planned for the rest of the year.
Before all of that, on 15 January, in New York, Callum Johnson fights for the WBO light-heavyweight title against Joe Smith; it could be an early candidate for fight of the year. A Johnson win, which is possible, would lead to a fight with Anthony Yarde; the British light-heavyweight division is ridiculous with about six men competing for the number one slot. Take your pick from Johnson, Yarde, Callum Smith, Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards. They need to fight each other and not imported French and Croatian men with inflated rankings. Ratings are a bogus tool in our world of boxing quackery.
Leigh Wood will defend his version of the featherweight title against Belfast’s Michael Conlan and at the same weight it looks like a rematch between Kiko Martinez, who has the IBF version, and Josh Warrington. Hey, that is how the business has always worked and a third fight between Mauricio Lara and Warrington is now on hold. Go cry about justice somewhere else.
Savannah Marshall will have a showdown with Claressa Shields; Chantelle Cameron will unify all four belts at light-welterweight when she fights Kali Reiss; Katie Taylor will own New York when she fights Amanda Serrano. They are, by the way, old-fashioned super fights in any currency.
Lawrence Okolie against any of the cruiser champions, Sunny Edwards against his nemesis Julio Cesar Martinez, Joe Cordina against Zelfa Barrett with the winner to fight Anthony Cacace, Conor Benn beating Adrien Broner, Joe Joyce in a revenge bid against Tony Yoka, Daniel Dubois in a revenge bid against Joyce, Frazer Clarke to win the British title by the end of the year, Isaac Chamberlain against Chris Billam-Smith in a battle of decent guys, Bradley Skeete to get his rematch with Hamzah Sheeraz, Kid Gavilan to return a lot heavier, Billy Joe Saunders to stay retired, Maxi Hughes to get a world title fight, Terri Harper in a rematch with Natasha Jonas, Cheavon Clarke to be the post-Olympic sleeper, Zach Parker to win the WBO super-middleweight title and Del Boy Chisora, our patron saint, to have one more glorious fight.