By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
When Tyson Fury took Klitschko’s belts off of him, boxing fans rejoiced. We were looking at the prospect of the Heavyweight division coming to life again; the rebirth of the Hollywood division. Whilst not stacked with what could honestly be described as mercurial talent, the rankings still had fights which promised excitement. Deontay Wilder personifies this for me. Wilder is not a gifted technical fighter and neither is he someone who looks like they’re far away from their ceiling. However, he is enticing simply because of his lack of perfection. And that’s exactly what I see when I look at the Heavyweight division.
It all looked so promising. David Haye made his return, which would of course means he would get involved with ranked fighters as quickly as possible. Typically, that didn’t materialise and still doesn’t look any closer to happening. In fact, it’s looking more and more likely that Haye’s next fight will be against Tony POWAHHH Bellew. Cruiserweight is arguably the hottest division in the sport at the moment and even the ‘lower-tier’ fights are superb fights (Marco Huck vs Dmytro Kucher for example). I think most genuine boxing fans want to see Bellew against the other top contenders in that division or at least fight his mandatory, the much availed Mairis Briedis. Alas, boxing stopped being about the best fighting the best in their division a long time ago. No one can earnestly say Bellew is going to beat Haye; it’s a mismatch. The market demand (especially for Matchroom) is casual fan driven however; Bellew and Haye are both names they know and as such the potential fight would be a financial success for both. And in turn robs us of two good fighters being tested in their own realm.
That mattered very little last week though because we had the excitement of Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko to be enthralled by. The heralded prospect (and serendipitous belt holder) against the man who dominated the scene for a decade. A fight everyone can get behind. Something for the fans to close the year off with. Suddenly with a sickening thud, boxing chokeslams you back down to Earth. It now looks as if we’ll get Lucas Browne-Klitschko and Joshua against…well, who knows? It’s with a petulant fear that I announce my David Price senses are tingling though. The reasoning for the fight falling through is a little convoluted. Hearn is suggesting that Wlad is only interested in the WBA belt, which seems a bit weird really. Even weirder would be the WBA refusing to sanction the fight given how open they usually are to money fights taking priority. I haven’t seen the IBF confirm anywhere that they would have sanction the fight either given that Wlad isn’t in their top 15, so it’s hard to know what’s going on. I don’t buy for a second that Wlad is ‘scared’ of AJ though, despite what Hearn will most likely now push. The guy went to billionaire backed Moscow to fight Povetkin for Christ’s sake. Maybe the ‘atmosphere’ offered by Sweet Caroline is too much for him…
We could have even had Joshua-Parker, the ultimate battle of the former prospects. But again, that also looks dead in the water with it seeming more and more likely that Parker will instead fight soft-bodied Andy Ruiz for the WBO belt. A fight that by itself is decent but in the current context is rather underwhelming. Povetkin also sees himself against Stiverne which is boxing’s best metaphor for a sigh that I can think of. We’ve no idea who Wilder will fight on his return but I would strongly suggest that normal form will resume. Luis Ortiz made a shock move to Matchroom and it’s hard to know what their plan for him will be. I have a feeling they’ll feed Whyte to him toward the end of the year. Remember Whyte? The guy who wobbled AJ and has looked pretty terrible since, in case you had forgotten.
The biggest shame and my utmost disappointment in the division is no doubt the aforementioned Tyson Fury. I won’t divulge my personal opinion on that whole situation but the crux of my issue with his ‘problems’ is that we won’t see him fighting at least for a few years. He brought some charm to the ring and really shocked me against Wlad with how good he actually could be. Especially considering his age too. He was quite clearly the best natural boxer in the division after that night and it is NEVER enjoyable to lose your top guy. 2016 and then 2017 had so much potential for the big lads in boxing. Finally, with Wlad gone we might see more contenders squaring off to make a claim to be the new number one. Instead, we’re just getting WWE gimmicks and tumbleweed bouncing across a scene that threatens to become almost irrelevant for another year.by