The upcoming bout between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko has gotten the boxing world somehow excited, even if the Ukrainian fighter is coming off a defeat by Tyson Fury in October 2015.
I actually expected much from the Klitschko-Fury fight from punches landed and furious exchanges. But the fight was somehow ruined by too much clinching and holding. Well, British boxing fans rejoiced in Fury’s win but he still failed to steal the limelight from his “smaller counterparts” like Manny Pacquiao, Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, among others.
Now I hope Joshua (18-0 with 18 knockouts) and Klitschko (64-4 with 53 KOs) really deck it out on April 20 this year so the heavyweight division can reclaim part of its former glamor and motivate the other top dogs in the division to face each other in the ring. While today’s heavyweights are huge, literally, compared to their counterparts during the era of Muhammad Ali, their hesitation to prove who is the best has not helped the division in regaining its lost glory.
Ali was 6’3” and weighed 220 pounds or so, while Joe Frazier was 5’11” and was at his best at 215 pounds. George Foreman, acknowledged as one of the “biggest” in the era, was 6’3” and weighed 225 pounds at his best. Now, how does that compare to Joshua and Klitschko who both tower at 6’6”and weigh around 230 to 245 pounds. Fury’s towers at 6’9” while Vitali, the older of the Klitschkos, is 6’8”.
But looking at closely how Ali and his opponents fought, it is very clear they threw more punches in bunches, with Ali packing amazing speed. Well, we saw traces of Ali and the boxers of his era in Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, who by today’s standards are “small” heavyweights. But these two old school heavyweights were known for the exciting fights they gave to boxing fans during their prime.
I may sound I am disappointed by how today’s heavyweights fight. Not really, because the Klitschko brothers are heavy punchers and know how to use their size advantage. And they are East European fighters who were able to maintain their deadly form well into their 40s. Maybe the harsh environment in Ukraine helped make the Klitschkos one of the most invincible fighters of their era.
But is it ironic that Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and other popular fighters who are not heavyweights have hogged the limelight more than the Klitschkos?
So what is wrong with how the present crop of heavyweights?
Besides the best of them not getting into the ring to prove who is better or the best, the present crop of heavyweights do not throw combinations like an AK-47 or M-16. I mean, just look at how Ali and Frazier traded punches in their third fight dubbed as “Thrilla in Manila” or how Tyson decimated his opponents with three to five consecutive punches. And look at how the clinches and holding made the Fury-Klitschko fight also look like a wrestling match.
So if there is anything I wish from the Joshua-Klitschko fight, it is this – more punches be thrown and landed. If the fight will end up looking like a wrestling-boxing hybrid match, expect boxing fans to be extra patient in waiting for the Golovkin-Alvarez fight to materialize, even if they know that mega fight would not take place this year. Or next year. Or maybe, the succeeding year.