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Three Takeaways: Why Top Rank is Missing an Opportunity with Clay Collard

Posted on 08/26/2020

By: Jonah Dylan

Massive knockouts, overmatched challengers and surprising upsets: this weekend might have been all over the place, but it had a lot of high-level boxing. Matchroom had its fight camp finale, plus there were important cards from ESPN+ and Fox. The biggest fight of the weekend was Alexander Povetkin’scome from behind demolition of Dillian Whyte, but we’ll start with one of boxing’s hottest names in Clay Collard.

Photo Credit: Clay Collard Twitter Account

1. Clay Collard is a treasure because he’s unique. Top Rank doesn’t seem interested in treating him that way.

Ok, hear me out. I love Clay Collard as much as the next guy. The former UFC fighter came out of nowhere in 2020, somehow racking up a 5-0 record that casually has him near the top of the Fighter of the Year running. He’s clearly willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime, and that’s the reason boxing fans are so excited by him.

But here’s the problem: Collard rose to this level of notoriety because of how his career started. Collard was essentially taking a break from MMA and knew his quickest path to big boxing fights was to fight undefeated prospects who would be garnering significant attention by fans and promoters. His first five opponents had a combined one loss and he went 1-1-3 against them. He seemed destined to be a professional opponent.

Then he started winning. He won five of his next six fights, all against legit prospects. He ended up on a Top Rank card in June and shocked then-undefeated prospect David Kaminsky by split decision. It was the first time most boxing fans had seen Collard fight, and they started to connect with his story and fighting style.

That brings me to the problem. After his win over Kaminsky, Top Rank got a hold of Collard and clearly saw what he brought to the table by himself. Instead of matching him with more prospects, they decided to treat him like the prospect, matching him very easy for his next two fights.

I get why this is the usual roadmap for prospects. You want to match them easy, then slowly build their level of competition as they learn and develop their skills. It makes sense and it has a track record of working for fighters across the world. But Collard isn’t just another prospect. He’s the prospect-killer, and he brings something to the table that most other fighters don’t.

So stop giving him easy fights! Rob Brant fought on Saturday’s Top Rank card and has no clear opponent at 160 pounds. Why can’t he fight Collard? How about Collard against Edgar Berlanga? And those are just a few Top Rank names. Literally any prospect at middleweight? Throw him in with Collard and see what happens.

Collard developed his reputation by only taking tough fights and consistently earning upset wins. Let’s allow him to keep doing it.

2. Katie Taylor-Delfine Persoon 100 would probably look pretty similar to Taylor-Persoon 2

The war between Taylor and Persoon went pretty much exactly as expected. Persoon did what she does, which is march forward and throw shots without really paying attention to if they’re landing cleanly. Taylor used her boxing ability to land cleaner punches and try to move away from Persoon, but she got drawn into the war on more than one occasion. It was a brutal fight, and Taylor’s win was certainly fair.

It could’ve gone either way, just like their first fight. Their next fight would probably go the same way. And to be honest, I’m more interested in Taylor-Persoon 3 than a lot of the fights that might be out there for her.

Taylor could fight Jessica McCaskill in what would be a significant fight and one that McCaskill has definitely earned. But Taylor already beat McCaskill in a lopsided contest and I’m not sure the rematch would go much differently. There’s some chatter about a superfight with Claressa Shields at 147 pounds, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

The fight to make is Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano. It was supposed to happen in May, then August, then it fell apart because of promotional issues between Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella that seem to be pretty significant. While it didn’t work out last time, now is the time to try one more time. It’s the biggest fight in women’s boxing and while Taylor would be the favorite, Serrano is more than capable of beating her.

3. Ok, so maybe we doubted Alexander Povetkin a little too much

In retrospect, Povektin had been pretty consistent over the last few years. He had his moments against Anthony Joshua, then dominated Hughie Fury and put up a really solid performance in a draw with Michael Hunter. He had every opportunity to compete with Dillian Whyte, and, well, that’s exactly what he did.

Povetkin was getting beat down before he uprooted everything with a nasty uppercut that left Whyte out cold. Whyte had a rematch clause and seems likely to exercise it, so we’ll see them back in the ring sometime in the near future.

The next fight will be very dangerous for Whyte. If he wins, he can get back on track the way Anthony Joshua did after his knockout loss to Andy Ruiz. Whyte has the benefit of being able to say he was clearly winning the fight before Povetkin landed the uppercut, and there’s no reason he can’t outbox or even knock out Povetkin in the rematch.

For Povetkin, even at 40, a second win against Whyte will set him up for yet another massive payday. His name recognition will shoot up after this win, especially with the highlight video in hand to help sell any fight he takes down the road. It’s clear, as it’s always been, that anything can happen in the heavyweight division. 

Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan

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