Heavyweight Shambles A Sideshow Ahead Of British & Irish NY Invasion
May 30, 2019
The fractured nature of modern boxing means that we don’t always get genuinely competitive bouts, even at the top level. Promoters are desperate to protect their cash cows and young prospects are carefully matched to avoid derailing hype trains.
No division illustrates this status quo more than the current crop of heavyweights. Last week Deontay Wilder destroyed Dominic Breazeale inside a round and on June 15th Tyson Fury will fight Tom Schwarz, a man who would struggle to be recognised at his own family reunion.
The filling in this particularly odious sandwich takes place on Saturday at Madison Square Garden as Anthony Joshua faces Andy Ruiz Jr. Regardless of what you might read about the threat posed by Ruiz Jr, this fight is a stinker (Ruiz is best-priced 12/1, which seems stingy). It’s made worse by the fact that the challenger is a replacement for another average fighter who is only missing out on a payday after failing several drug tests.
Joshua was supposed to be making his US debut against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller until Miller’s run-in with the doping authorities. What all of these contests serve to illustrate is just how badly boxing fans are currently being treated.
We all understand that the sport is a business but without fans, there would be no business. The frustration is reinforced by news that Wilder has agreed a rematch with Luis Ortiz rather than face Joshua or Tyson Fury again.
Leaving aside the wider politics of heavyweight boxing Anthony Joshua still has a job to do this weekend. Wilder has fought twice since “AJ” defeated Alexander Povetkin in September last year and it feels like momentum has slowed for the British star.
After his astonishing win against Wladimir Klitschko, it felt like Joshua had the world at his feet but there hasn’t been a standout moment since. In that time Wilder has been in an all-time classic war with Fury and has knocked out both Breazeale and Ortiz in spectacular style.
Joshua needs something similar on Saturday for two reasons. Firstly, to remind fans that he’s still the man with the lion’s share of the titles but secondly, to announce himself properly in the US. It seems ludicrous that he needs global exposure, but the furthest Joshua has come to fighting overseas as a professional is Cardiff and Glasgow.
I expect Anthony Joshua to win inside two rounds on Saturday (best priced 4-1 with Coral) but unfortunately, we’ll be no closer to getting the super fights which fans crave.
From a betting perspective, there is little value in the main event, but promoter Eddie Hearn has put together a card that British and Irish fans will be very familiar with. Callum Smith defends his WBA super-middleweight belt against Hassan N’Dam whilst Josh Kelly and Joshua Buatsi will look to further their fledgling careers respectively.
The feel-good story of Saturday is British boxing’s own Cinderella man, Tommy Coyle. Coyle will box former world champion Chris Algieri in arguably his biggest contest to date. Coyle has been reborn as a fighter since joining Jamie Moore’s training camp and is in the best shape of his career.
Coyle is a fan favourite for his all-action style and rarely takes a backwards step. Whether or not it will be enough against a canny opponent like Algieri remains to be seen but whenever Hull’s most famous greengrocer fights it is always exciting.
In contrast to Tommy Coyle’s war machine, we will be treated to one of this generation’s most outrageously gifted boxers in Katie Taylor. Taylor fights Belgium’s Delfine Persoon in a lightweight unification contest. Persoon’s WBC belt is the only one missing from Taylor’s impressive collection and whilst the latter is a heavy favourite at 1/10 with Unibet, the Belgian is no mug.
Both women have had battles for recognition outside the ring. Taylor had to pretend to be a boy as a child just to find competitive fights whilst Persoon didn’t have the option of an amateur career so ran her own shows in a bid to gain exposure.
When the two meet it will only be Taylor’s fourteenth professional fight. In contrast, it will be number forty-five for Persoon but the gulf in ring time is not reflected in respective abilities. Katie Taylor is truly a once-in-a-generation fighter with blistering hand speed and accuracy. The story of her outfoxing Carl Frampton during an amateur spar is the stuff of legend and Frampton himself says that Taylor is the better boxer of the two.
All signs point to a Taylor win on points, but she will need to be aware of Persoon’s power, the Belgian hits hard. It is tempting to look at 18 KOs in 43 wins as proof otherwise but that is almost certainly a reflection of the two-minute rounds used in women’s boxing.
In truth, this isn’t a card that will live long in the memory, but a British/Irish accumulator is worth a look, particularly if you add in wins by stoppage. The Coyle fight could well be a coupon buster in that regard, but anything can happen under the lights at boxing’s spiritual home.
Here are the bookmakers offering the best boxing odds
Author: George Ogier
George has been writing about boxing and other sports for over seven years. He has written for various sites including The Mirror, Joe and Boxing Scene. He also runs his own social media management company from West Oxfordshire. When not feverishly staring at his laptop he likes to be ultimately disappointed by Tottenham Hotspur.