By Scoop Malinowski
Boxing is so dysfunctional now that if a fighter look too spectacular in the ring, he will struggle to get to fight the biggest fights against the best name opposition. Because those fighters and their managers/promoters want low risk opponents, not high risk danger, which could destroy the value, leverage and future of their investment.
Gennady Golovkin, Terence Crawford, Artur Beterbiev, Janibek Alimkhanuly are just a few examples of dynamic, spectacular recent fighters who were too dominant and impressive for their own good and consequently struggled to get to fight and beat the biggest marquee opponents for maximum reward. Also boxing fans and history have been cheated out of seeing the greatest fights and performances.
So it would make perfect sense for Anthony Joshua to hold back and play soft during his easy win last night vs. his comeback sparring partner Jermain Franklin – if he wants to lure Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder into big money fights later in 2023. Fury and Wilder have both ducked and faked negotiations with Joshua in the past, affirming that they’d both rather talk about fighting Joshua than actually doing it. Pretending to want to fight Joshua is good for their own value, image, branding and PR. It’s a way to steal value off a superior fighter without fighting and losing to him.
So Joshua beat Franklin easily last night and immediately said after he wants to fight Fury next. Fury has no fights lined up now and a Fury vs. Joshua showdown is probably the biggest money heavyweight fight right now, even more so than Fury vs Usyk unification, which Fury just infamously ducked last week.
So far Fury has not answered Joshua’s challenge, which is not a good sign. Fury is no idiot, he probably can see Joshua didn’t show his best last night vs Franklin, intentionally, and he fears being lured into a trap by Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn.
Hearn’s words after Joshua’s latest win sound to me like he and AJ have indeed set a trap for Fury and Wilder by having Joshua not show his best. If AJ did win by monster KO vs Franklin, it would only further scare away Wilder and Fury. “Everyone expects him to steamroll Franklin, he’s a good fighter. I’m pleased that he got the twelve rounds,” Hearn said. “I think people will be up for fighting him as well. They will think that he’s showing a few signs of weakness still. I thought he took some good shots, I thought his defense was good. I would like to see him be a bit more aggressive in there, but with what was on the line, very happy to be back in the summer with another big fight.”
So let’s see if Fury and Wilder are in any hurry to get a jackpot payday vs Joshua – or will they continue to duck and dodge Joshua, as they have for the last five years?
The moment of truth is here.