IT’S ON! @anthonyfjoshua will defend his WBA,IBF,WBA and IBO World heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at @wembleystadium on September 22! New York press conf tomorrow and London on Wednesday pic.twitter.com/NDCn7EpgvX— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) July 16, 2018
After Manny Pacquiao’s destruction of Lucas Matthysse last weekend, the conversation quickly turned to who the presumably rejuvenated 39-year-old would be fighting next. This week, that conversation became an absolute mess, with everybody pointing to a different opponent they would like to see Manny fight. Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortuna is pushing for a fight against Amir Khan, which he thinks would sell out the over 100,000 seats at Wembley Stadium. Bob Arum says that he wants to talk it over with Pacquiao, but that he is clearly pushing for a fight with either Vasyl Lomachenko or Terence Crawford (both of whom he represents).
Manny himself would like to get a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, but it’s hard to see the public getting excited for that matchup after their first fight, no matter how good Pacquiao has looked lately or how much he tries to convince us his shoulder injury, and not Mayweather’s superior boxing, was his downfall in the first fight. One fighter who will not be getting the next matchup with the legendary Filipino champion is the man who beat him last, Jeff Horn, who has expressed a strong interest in a rematch. Pretty much everyone around Pacquiao shot that idea down, citing Manny’ star power being so much greater than Horn’s and the controversial decision Horn was given in their last fight.
Matthysse was apparently not pleased with critics who said that he quit against Pacquiao, as he lashed out this week calling the idea “BS” and “nonsense.” He also went on to compare the way he was criticized to the way his Argentinian countrymate Lionel Messi was criticized after the World Cup, before declaring that he “got the most out of what an Argentine boxer can aspire to achieve.” I would remind Mr. Matthysse both of Sergio Martinez’s impressive career and of his hobbling around on one good leg while getting blasted by a prime Miguel Cotto for as many rounds as he could, before he makes a statement like that again.
Terence Crawford won the ESPY for “Best Fighter,” which I’m sure has nothing to do with him fighting on ESPN these days. He beat out Georges St. Pierre, Vasyl Lomachenko and Rose Namajunas for the honor.
One fight that is 100 percent happening is Anthony Joshua’s match with Alexander Povetkin on Sept. 22. This was not a surprise; however, the fight was confirmed by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn on Monday via his Twitter. While attempting to promote this fight, Joshua got into a heated altercation with Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller where expletives were hurled but no punches were thrown. Considering the Povetkin fight is already a disappointment for fans eager to watch Joshua face Deontay Wilder, bringing more attention to another heavyweight contender he isn’t fighting was probably a bad idea.
Speaking of bad ideas, Danny Williams, the former heavyweight boxer that beat an absolutely shot Mike Tyson back in 2004, will be facing Lee McAllister, a fighter who has not fought since 2013, when he fought as a welterweight. Yes, a welterweight, as in 147 pounds. The fight will be on the undercard of the Joseph Parker-Dillian Whyte fight on July 28. There’s a famous story in boxing, where in search of a white man who could beat Jack Johnson, the former middleweight champion of the world, Stanley Ketchel, was pressured into fighting as a heavyweight. Ketchel got knocked out, lost a few teeth and the world learned why even great fighters from the lower weight classes don’t fight heavyweights. Or so I thought.
One fight that will not be happening on that card is the match between Kell Brook and Brandon Cook. That fight was cancelled this week, after Brook suffered (or apparently worsened a preexisting) injury to his ankle.
The World Boxing Super Series at Bantamweight (118 pounds), headlined by fighters Nonito Donaire and Naoya Inoue, added Russian Mikhail Aloyan. Aloyan has had only four professional fights -- all of which were knockout victories -- which after what happened to China’s Bin Lu last weekend should give fans pause about such an untested professional fighting champions. However, Aloyan is a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and his last two professional opponents were a combined 27-0-2, so entering the tournament may actually work out well for him.
In a world where college football is in serious jeopardy of being banned if intellectuals like Malcolm Gladwell get their way, the idea of college scholarships for boxing may seem like an odd idea. However, that is exactly what the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing is doing. Their argument is that in other sports being talented and driven leads to kids getting a free college education, but even colleges that have boxing programs don’t give out scholarships for boxing. It’s an interesting idea; let’s see how it works out.
James Braddock got a statue made of him in his hometown of North Bergen, New Jersey. Let’s just say it’s great that the “Cinderella Man” got a statue. No need to bring up why so many white boxers get movies compared to black boxers, or how the fake boxer Rocky Balboa had a statue years before Joe Frazier did. Let’s just say that James Braddock has a statue now in his hometown and that’s great.
Former MMA stars Chris Leben and Phil Baroni have signed on to face each other in the “World Bareknuckle Fighting Federation.” It’s interesting how many MMA fighters are fighting in the world of bareknuckle boxing compared to boxers, who would presumably have the more developed skillset for the revived sport.
And finally, a word about DAZN. DAZN, for those of you who don’t know is a $9.99 a month streaming service devoted to combat sports. They will be showing the Joshua-Povetkin fight, have signed Demetrius Andrade and Jarrell Miller, and will also be showing some Bellator MMA cards. The big difference between DAZN and something like ESPN+ is that DAZN has promised they will not have any fights on PPV. The elimination of PPV fights would be great for boxing fans, but Yahoo’s Kevin Iole wrote this week about how being a boxing fan is becoming very expensive noting how once you pay for HBO, ESPN, ESPN+, Showtime and DAZN your entertainment budget will be pretty thin without even purchasing any PPV fights. For an already -- let’s face it -- fringe sport, that could be a very dangerous proposition.
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