We could be heading toward a golden age of boxing. There are a number of great competitive talents in just about every weight division, and a title unification mini-tournament could be done in almost every division. A mega fight was set May 5 in Las Vegas with the Canelo Alvarez vs. Triple G rematch, and we just had a unified heavyweight title fight in Cardiff, Wales, that should have set up a unified heavyweight title clash for Britain’s Anthony Joshua versus American Deontay Wilder. However, with every good in the sport of boxing, there are negatives that once again put it in a position where boxing just can’t stop getting in its own way. Alvarez pulled out on Tuesday and has a meeting pending with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker
March ended with what was a supposed to be a high note as WBA, IBF, and IBO Champion Anthony Joshua added the WBO title to his collection by defeating New Zealand’s Joseph Parker by unanimous decision, going the distance for the first time and improving to 21-0 with 20 knockouts.
The bout was in front of 80,000 boisterous fans in Cardiff, Wales. However, it did not excite many. The bout lacked action and featured a referee that was too involved in the fight and stole headlines. Also, the right guy did get the decision, although most had Joshua squeaking out a close one. The judges’ official scorecards were just about a shutout for Joshua, which is a concern for any fighter traveling to Europe for a big fight.
Although the IBO title has no relevance in my mind, the one other heavyweight with a belt is Alabama’s Deontay Wilder. Saturday night should have been a prelude to a possible unification match between Joshua and Wilder, but instead it just started the waiting game that likely will leave the fans without an undisputed heavyweight champion in the foreseeable future.
Wilder was supposed to attend the event and work as a commentator for Britain’s Sky Television but canceled his trip when learning that promoter Eddie Hearn was going to prohibit Wilder from entering the ring after the fight, thus preventing a possible face-to-face that would have hyped up the match that fans are waiting for. Afterward, pointing out that only about 7,000 fans attended Wilder’s last fight, Joshua and Hearn insisted that Wilder will have to come to the UK for the clash, which is no doubt going to have the standoff about where a unified match would even take place. Let’s hope we don’t have too long of a wait and that one or both of the fighters demand the fight themselves. My thought is that Europeans have taken over the division and Americans should be willing to travel for the opportunity to return the heavyweight crown to the United States. I would, however, put in a clause that a rematch would take place in the States.
Holy Cow, Canelo pulls out
As Canelo Alvarez awaits his hearing with the commission to determine his fate, the scheduled May 5 rematch with Triple G is off. Alvarez will face another opponent. Testing positive for clenbuterol, most bought the initial claim that Canelo, or shall we call him “Cow- nelo,” had eaten some contaminated meat in Mexico. Most in boxing had been thinking he would get a slap on the wrist and the fight would go on.
What has since come is the fact that this is Canelo’s second positive test and there may be evidence that Golden Boy Promotions covered up the first positive, as it only came to light after the second failed test. MGM already has started to issue refunds to ticket holders and it now appears that they are expecting Canelo to serve a suspension and rescheduling the fight for Mexican Independence Day weekend in September. My question is whether there is going to be interest as Canelo is in a zero-win situation. If he wins, then he must be doping. If he loses, it questions past performances and victories. The only scenario that happens where fans are left satisfied is Triple G winning the rematch and his legend grows as he would be the one that — even if you cheat — he’ll beat you. Nevertheless, the juice has been sucked out of this would-be anticipated clash.
‘One time’ becoming ‘once was’
After more than a yearlong layoff from elbow surgery, linear (original undisputed) welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman was set to return to action on May 19. But he recently pulled, out claiming a hand injury and yet again stalling the talented welterweight division. My problem is that Thurman had been ringside for recent championship bouts and conducted several interviews claiming his timetable and his comeback plans. No opponent was ever named for May 19, so we can’t say who Thurman pulled out of fighting. I wonder: Why the stall?
With two of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters in the welterweight division, Errol Spence and Terrance Crawford, showdowns the likes of Leonard-Hearns are looming. There is no doubt the bouts will happen, it’s just a matter of when. Boxing super agent Al Haymon is the representative of all of the major players in the welterweight division, with Thurman, Spence, Crawford, along with Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, as viable contenders still in the mix.
Let’s hope that boxing’s self-made obstacles can move out of the way and the fans aren’t left wondering what might have happened. The sport does have potential right now to rise to heights not seen with the game in decades. There are bright spots with young up-and-coming talent such as Gabriel Flores Jr. and Ryan Garcia, who sold out a fight in Indio, California, on a Thursday night ESPN show. With his more than 500,000 followers on social media, Garcia is a boxing heartthrob and the crowd was full of 13 year olds as if he were a pop star. Along with all of those teenagers, I’m sure their parents took them to the fights, which added to ticket sales. We do have some marketable fighters in the game right now that will keep it popular. But they need to step up in a timely matter and not be exposed as frauds.
– Simon Ruvalcaba
Related story: May 4 boxing card in Reno features local fighters.