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HOW HE DID IT: Mayweather’s Scintillating Display

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In what was his most dominating performance since mastering Juan Manuel Marquez back in September of 2009, Floyd Mayweather retained his welterweight title and kept his professional unbeaten streak going with a quite scintillating display of boxing against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in Las Vegas last Saturday night.

Despite now being 36 years-old, Mayweather showed no signs of decline in what was his first outing in little over a year (it was also his first fight since being incarcerated back in June).

After two fairly even rounds, Mayweather seized control (that’s if he hadn’t already done so in the first two, but more on that in a moment) and dominated the remainder of the fight to earn himself a unanimous decision, winning 117-111 on all three of the judge’s scorecards.

After 12 rounds, Mayweather (now 44-0 with 26 Kos) had landed an astonishing 60% of his power shots, handing a very frustrated Guerrero (now 31-2-1 with 18 Kos) only the second defeat of his 33-fight professional career in the process.

And so, for the most part of this analysis, I’d like to touch upon some of the things Floyd Mayweather did at different stages throughout the fight which allowed him to subdue a tough opponent in Robert Guerrero with relative ease.

Lead hand work against the southpaw

Because both fighters often find their lead hands and feet are obstructed by each other’s during a southpaw/orthodox clash, the jab is not always the easiest punch to establish. In this scenario, to land the jab successfully, the lead foot will oftentimes have to be positioned to the inside of an opponent’s lead foot. The problem with this, of course, is that one would be inadvertently lining themselves up with an opponent’s more threatening power hand. Therefore, during a mixed lead clash, the advantage usually lies with the fighter who can continually work their lead foot to the outside of their opponent’s, enabling them to better set up their rear hand while simultaneously placing themselves at a safer angle in relation to their opponent’s rear hand.

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Notice the contrasting body alignments and spacing in the two stills. When you have a matched lead clash (shown on the above left here between Mayweather and Mosley) the jab is the most efficient punch to land (longest weapon to the nearest target). When you have a mismatch of leads going on (shown on the above right here between our men of the hour, Mayweather and Guerrero) you’ll often see more body space between each fighter and also a lot of jockeying for position with the lead hand in an attempt to create a clearer path to the target. As a result, it’s often better to place more emphasis on the rear hand by stepping to the outside of an opponent’s lead foot. Simply put, the rear hand, particularly the rear straight, becomes arguably the most effective weapon for a fighter during a mixed lead clash.

To suggest that any chance of a Guerrero victory would be dependent on the success or failure of Floyd Mayweather’s right hand would have been a gross understatement to say the least. Without question, Mayweather is the owner of one of the best right hands in the sport and he has little problem making it work against orthodox opponents, let alone southpaws. Needless to say, despite being fully aware and as well prepared as he could have been for the right hand threat of Mayweather, Robert Guerrero couldn’t do a thing to avoid being hit with it almost at will. This is the mark of a true craftsman in boxing –it’s not only about how many different tools you can bring to the table, it’s also about how many different ways you can use a single tool.

So how did Mayweather manage to chop up Guerrero with little else apart from a right hand? Simple, he constantly set things up, creating false patterns for Guerrero to read before breaking away from them abruptly.

In the early going, and indeed, throughout most of the bout, Mayweather threw blinding jabs (or slow jabs) toward Guerrero’s lead hand to disturb Guerrero’s rhythm, control his lead hand and to disguise his (Mayweather’s) next plan of attack. Unlike regular jabs, a blinding or slow jab is a non-committal jab that is extended out and brought back without actually punching.

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Here’s Mayweather throwing blinding jabs aimed at Guerrero’s lead glove during the early stages of the fight. Although its non-committal (the polar opposite to a thudding Sonny Liston stiff jab), the blinding jab is a great weapon to use against someone who is in an opposite lead to yourself (Guillermo Rigondeaux used it often to disrupt Nonito Donaire recently). As I mentioned earlier, when you have a mixed lead clash going on, you’ll see a lot of jockeying for position with the lead hand. The correct way to parry/cover/catch the jab of someone who is facing you in an unmatched lead is to use your own lead hand (the opposite of orthodox versus orthodox or southpaw versus southpaw where the rear hand should be used). Therefore, by throwing blinding jabs, you can occupy an opponent’s lead hand –discouraging them from trying to establish their own jab as well as manipulating the lead hand away from their guard to create openings.

Although the first two rounds were competitive on the surface, I believe Mayweather was simply laying down the ground work for his right hand. It’s what technicians do.

Execution of the right hand

I’ve already mentioned that Floyd Mayweather probably has the best right hand in the sport right now. But what does he do that makes it so special? Technically speaking, I’m of the opinion that he doesn’t throw it that much better than other fighters do. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of fighters out there that if you were to ask them to throw a straight right hand they would throw it with technical correctness. However, I don’t think there is a current fighter in boxing who has mastered the intangibles of a single punch quite like Floyd Mayweather has with his right hand. Sure, there are fighters out there who can hit harder than Floyd, but in terms of the set up –using feints and footwork to force his opponents into certain positions—and the delivery –mixing up the targets both high and low and narrow and wide in order to keep his opponents guessing as to where the next one is coming from, he may stand alone.

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As we’ve already discussed, here is Mayweather using his blinding jab to set up his straight right hand. Hypnotized by Mayweather’s snake charming lead hand, Guerrero barely manages to avoid Mayweather’s straight right in this instance. It should also be noted that Mayweather is throwing his right hand rather conventionally in this instance –his lead foot is positioned to the outside of Guerrero’s and his right hand is travelling from his guard with very little telegraphic motion.

Just as Guerrero was getting used to and compensating for one attack, Mayweather changed up and unveiled yet another one.

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Still working behind his blinding jab, this time Mayweather adjusts the arc of the blow and changes its trajectory. Whereas Guerrero had been anticipating straight right hands between the gloves earlier in the fight, Mayweather was now throwing right hooks around the guard. Although right hooks are unconventional and considered too risky for orthodox fighters to use, because of the sudden change-up and unpredictable nature of the punch, Floyd found great success with it. A varied attack, even one with the same hand, can keep an opponent guessing instead of punching.

Despite the fact that he wasn’t the first fighter to use it (men like George Benton, Nicolino Locche and James Toney used it first and were arguably even more effective with it than Floyd is), Mayweather’s (and Broner’s) use of the shoulder roll on defense has resulted in the technique becoming very popular of late. However, if there was one technique that Mayweather pulled off against Guerrero on Saturday night that best sums him up as a defensive fighter (or an offensive one for that matter), it was the way in which he consistently weaved out at an angle after landing his straight right hand. One of the main goals in boxing is to hit without being hit back in return. Therefore, an intelligent boxer knows that his job is not done once he’s finished his attack.

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Here, Mayweather is drifting to his right and toward Guerrero’s more dangerous left hand. Notice how Mayweather has conceded the outside lead foot position in this sequence as he lands his right hand. As fundamentally sound as Mayweather is, he’s still capable of doing unconventional things in there. After landing his straight right hand, Mayweather drops low and weaves out to his right, evading Guerrero’s attempted counter left. When you see this in real time (Mayweather did this extensively throughout the fight) you’ll notice that Floyd begins weaving under before Guerrero has even released his left hand. This is Floyd Mayweather all over –taking some kind of pre-emptive measure against his opponent’s most likely/dangerous technique in any given situation. In this fight, it was Guerrero’s left hand.

Mayweather continued to circle right, occupy with a blinding jab or feint, before landing the right hand and exiting at an angle. You could say this move of Mayweather’s, which took away Guerrero’s left hand and exploited his inability to adjust against a multi-faceted fighter, was the story of the fight.

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Here’s Mayweather pulling off the same offensive/defensive technique as before. Only this time, he’s using a straight right hand to the body. By going upstairs for a period of time before bringing the attack downstairs, Mayweather forced Guerrero to overcompensate with his guard. Regardless, the angling out –avoiding Guerrero’s counter left hand by weaving under and out to his right—was the same.

In his last fight before facing Mayweather, Robert Guerrero managed to maul a one dimensional fighter in Andre Berto and found little in the way of resistance coming back at him. Guerrero soon found out that trying to do the same thing to Floyd Mayweather at close quarters would be no easy task. Even though Mayweather rarely called upon his typical half-guard defense against Guerrero (a sign of his boxing acumen and Berto’s lack thereof saying as the half-guard defense out of an orthodox stance is less effective against southpaws) he still showed defensive mastery on the inside.

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Unlike Andre Berto, Here is Mayweather nullifying Guerrero at close quarters. Notice how Floyd has Guerrero’s lead hand tied up and is using his right forearm to manoeuvre Guerrero around and stop him from throwing his left hand effectively.

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Although this may seem relatively straight forward, Mayweather is actually smothering his opponent and is preventing him from working on the inside. In this position, Mayweather can’t be hit with anything clean as his right glove is protecting the right side of his face (a pre-emptive measure against Guerrero’s left hand) and his lead arm has Guerrero’s lead arm tied up. Should Guerrero manage to break loose and sneak something through, Mayweather has his chin tucked in for good measure. On the inside, much of the infighting success Guerrero had against Berto was shut down.

I could go on and write page after page here describing what Mayweather did to Guerrero last Saturday. Although I’ve touched on most things, I’ve still left out a few things, of which, I could probably write a whole other article about. Take Mayweather’s footwork for example, which, despite rumours of it not being what it once was, looked excellent. His persistent stop-start, non-rhythmic movement forced Guerrero to constantly reset himself or risk conceding an angle. Just as Guerrero would get set to punch, Mayweather would catch him between steps and nail him with the right hand and start all over. I could also have said more about the way in which Mayweather conditions his opponents to expect one technique before giving presenting them with another. In particular, after familiarizing Guerrero with the right hand for some time, Floyd began feinting with it and started throwing left hooks over the top of Guerrero’s lead hand, giving him even more to think about.

It’s one thing when you have a distinct hand and foot speed advantage over your opponent, but it’s something entirely different when you also hold the advantage in ring craft and IQ over them as well. Despite thinking Guerrero could have possibly done more to better disguise his intentions behind some rhythm changes and feints (just as Floyd did throughout), one can’t help but feel that should they face off another ten times, the outcome would always be the same. Robert Guerrero was soundly beaten by a superior athlete, a smarter ring general and a much better fighter.

 

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George Groves and Callum Smith Finally Meet in the WBSS Capstone

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The 168-pound tournament of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, an 8-man invitational, kicked off on Sept. 16 of last year with a match between Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund at Liverpool, England. Tournaments of this nature in boxing almost never play out as planned and this tourney was no exception. But on Friday we will finally crown a winner when Smith meets George Groves at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, of all places. At stake will be the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy and the bundle of cash that comes with it and Groves’ WBA “super” world super middleweight title.

Despite the odd location, this is a domestic affair. Groves, the top seed, and Smith, the #2 seed, are both Englishmen. And if the fight were on British soil, it would have certainly drawn well. In the UK, Groves is enormously popular. His second fight with Carl Froch attracted a crowd of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium, a British post-war record eventually broken by Joshua-Klitschko.

Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) suffered his lone defeats at the hands of Froch, who defeated him twice, and Badou Jack, and there’s no shame there. Carl Froch, in the minds of many, has a plaque waiting for him at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Jack, a title-holder in two weight classes, is currently ranked #1 as a light heavyweight by the WBA and WBC.

Although both fights with Froch ended inside the distance, both were nip-and-tuck until Froch closed the curtain. Badou Jack defeated Groves by split decision in Las Vegas.

Groves has a high boxing IQ as he demonstrated on Feb 17 in Manchester where he scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Chris Eubank Jr. Groves, observed ringside reporter Gareth Davies, “was just a step too far, too strong and ultimately too technical and experienced in the championship rounds.” Eubank’s father and trainer Chris Eubank Sr. saluted Groves for fighting the perfect fight.

The victory was bittersweet as Groves dislocated his left shoulder in the final round. It required surgery, pushing back the finale until this Friday, a full two months after the conclusion of the other WBSS tourney, for cruiserweights, the finale of which was also pushed back from the originally scheduled date. For a time the promoters seriously considered bumping Eubank into the finals in place of the incapacitated Groves but eventually thought better of it. (Eubank will appear on the undercard in a stay-busy fight against Ireland’s J.J. McDonagh.)

Callum Smith (24-0, 18 KOs) is the youngest of four fighting brothers, each of whom captured one or more regional titles. In the family, the relationship between talent and birth order is inverse, which is to say that Paul Smith, the oldest of the foursome, wasn’t as good as his younger brother Stephen and Stephen wasn’t as good as younger brother Liam.

Liam “Beefy” Smith accomplished what his two older brothers could not, winning a world title. He won the WBO 154-pound diadem in his twenty-second fight and successfully defended the belt twice before it was sheared from him by Canelo Alvarez who knocked him out in the ninth round.

If Callum Smith wins on Friday, he will be recognized by hardcore fans as a more legitimate champion than was the case with his brother Liam. That’s because Callum, who stands six-foot-three (none of his brothers is taller than 5’11”), was touted from the very onset of his career as the most gifted of the fighting Smith brothers. He solidified that opinion in November of 2015 when he knocked out Liverpool rival Rocky Fielding in the opening round. Fielding went on to win the “regular” version of the WBA 168-pound title and that remains the only blemish on his record.

In recent bouts, however, Smith hasn’t looked that sharp. His last two opponents, the aforementioned Skoglund and Neiky Holzken, lasted the full 12 rounds. The obscure Holzken, a converted kickboxer from the Netherlands, was a late sub for Juergen Braehmer who was forced to bow out of the tournament with an illness.

George Groves was a slight underdog to Eubank. On Friday, the odds favor him, but only slightly. At last look it was 13/10 which portends a very close fight. Groves has the edge in experience and in ring savvy and has fought tougher opposition, but Smith will have a three-and-a-half inch height advantage and is judged to be the harder puncher.

Fight fans in the U.S. can access the fight on the new DAZN app. Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is seven hours ahead of New York and other precincts in the Eastern Time Zone and adjust accordingly.

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Three Punch Combo: A Bouquet for “ShoBox” and More

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THREE PUNCH COMBO — We are embarking into a new age in boxing. There are new television contracts and digital platforms available that are making the sport more visible than ever before to the masses. But with all these new deals and platforms, it is important not to forget some of the consistent programming that has been around for some time. There is no better example of this than the ShoBox series on Showtime.

ShoBox, more formally ShoBox: The New Generation, began with a simple premise of matching young prospects in with tough opposition. To get their fighters on this series, promoters would have to find credible opponents who could potentially test and maybe even upset their prized prospect. This premise has led to consistently competitive and entertaining fights in the more than 200 broadcasts since the inception of the series in 2001.

This past Friday, we saw just how this premise works once again. There was a four fight card that featured competitive fights on paper in all the matches. However, in two of those matches there did seem to be clear favorites though each of the respective fighters was being matched with their toughest foe to date.

James Wilkins and Misael Lopez opened the telecast in a 130-pound contest. Wilkins was featured in a documentary that aired on Showtime just prior to the card and was expected to make a smashing television debut. He was a knockout artist and the thought was that he would put on a show to open the telecast. But instead, Wilkins got a boxing lesson from Lopez who was busier from the outside and managed to mostly avoid the power of Wilkins throughout the contest in winning an eight round unanimous decision.

The main event featured Jon Fernandez facing O’Shaquie Foster in another 130-pound contest. Fernandez had been getting a lot of buzz and many in the sport considered the Spaniard a future star. This was supposed to be a test for Fernandez as Foster (pictured on the right) represented a step up in class, but nonetheless many expected Fernandez to pass the test with flying colors. Instead, the power punching Fernandez was clearly out-boxed by Foster for ten rounds in an entertaining fight.

These two fights showed once again that when young fighters are matched tough we often get better than expected fights that can sometimes deliver surprises. This coming Friday, the series returns with highly touted lightweight prospect Devin Haney (19-0, 13 KO’s) in the main event taking on former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (33-2-2, 21 KO’s). This is a fight in which Haney is favored but one in which he is facing the toughest challenge of his young career. At the very least, this should be a test for the highly touted 19-year-old Haney and I am certain we get a compelling fight.

ShoBox is boxing’s most consistent series and one that just continues to provide fight fans with high caliber, competitive fights.

10 Percent or 10 Pounds – How To Combat Fighters Who Blow Up In Weight

It is time to address the issue of fighters gaining an absurd amount of weight following the weigh-in. There is a reason why we have weight classes in boxing. If one fighter enters the ring weighing significantly more than his opponent, it gives the bigger fighter a big advantage. This can make for not only non-competitive fights but potentially dangerous situations. I have a simple solution that I think can combat this problem.

In past articles, I have touched on the issue of fighters who miss the contracted weight. My argument has always been to implement a system with stiff financial penalties. So in a similar aspect, I think stiff financial penalties can combat the continued problem of fighters blowing up in weight after the official weigh-in.

What I propose is second day weigh-ins where fighters would not be permitted to put on more than ten pounds or 10 percent (whichever is more) of the contracted weight limit. If they are over, the fight still goes on but the fighter who misses the second day weight limit pays a substantial fine. This simple adjunct can be easily administered by the various state commissions in the United States (or any other commissions worldwide).

Here is an example:  Let’s say we have a fight contracted at 130 pounds and each fighter weighs in at 129 pounds. The second day limit would be 10 percent of 130 pounds which was the contracted weight. So each fighter could come in at a maximum of 143 pounds. Now let’s say one fighter comes in at 146 pounds. The penalty I propose would be 20 percent of that fighter’s purse per pound over the weight. And this money goes directly to their opponent. Under this example, the fighter over weight would lose 60 percent of his purse.

Zero Shouldn’t Mean That Much

We are in an era, largely due to The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Factor, where fighters are often overly protected to keep that precious zero in the loss column. But to do so, they are frequently matched with soft opposition and learn little from dismantling their overmatched foes. There is little to no growth in their career during this period and though the record may get glossy, the development of the fighter may be stunted.

Setbacks can humble fighters and make them see what needs to be done so as not to experience that feeling again. They become better overall fighters and put themselves in a better long term position in their career.

This past weekend, we saw two once promising prospects bounce back with career defining wins after suffering an early unexpected defeat. They are both now in prime position to have their respective careers blossom which may not have otherwise been the case.

Earlier I mentioned O’Shaquie Foster’s upset win against Jon Fernandez. Three years ago, Foster was a highly touted prospect. He had a good amateur background and was blessed athletically with dynamic speed. After building up an 8-0 record against less than formidable opposition, he lost in a dreadful performance to Samuel Teah. Another loss would follow several months later to Rolando Chinea. But Foster clearly learned from his mistakes in these fights and bounced back, layering his natural athletic ability with much improved skills in frankly outclassing Fernandez. Foster’s losses made him take a step back and re-evaluate what needed to be done inside the ring. He is now in prime position to become a contender in the 130-pound weight division.

Luke Campbell was a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist and considered a can’t-miss future star in boxing. But in his 13th pro fight, in a rather shocking development, he was put on the canvas and lost a split decision to veteran Yvan Mendy. Another loss followed two years later against Jorge Linares but Campbell performed well while losing a split decision and flashed signs of improvement from the Mendy setback.

The rematch with Mendy for Campbell took place this past weekend and Campbell did what many expected him to do in their first encounter. He boxed effectively from the outside and mixed in precision combination punching to easily avenge the defeat. It was a dynamic performance by Campbell and put him in line for a big fight at lightweight.

Luke Campbell is a vastly different fighter from the one who lost to Mendy three years earlier and appears primed to potentially live up to the once high expectations. He is in a better spot today in his career due to what he learned from that first loss to Mendy.

Photo credit: Dave Mandel / SHOWTIME

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights

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He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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