By: Sean Crose
In an era where a big mouth has become almost more important than boxing skills (it’s sad, but true), it’s nice to see men like Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk meet in the ring. Neither man is what you’d call ordinary. Usyk is a character and Joshua isn’t at all afraid to get in front of the public eye. Yet both men, who are going to fight Saturday in England for the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles, are acting like adults in the leadup to their highly anticipated match. They’ve spoken of and to each other respectfully, and have more or less gone about their fight week activities as professionals. As Michael Corleone might say, “it’s only business.”
Compare this to next month’s third go round between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder and you’ll find a chasm nearly as wide as the Atlantic Ocean between the two pairs of fighters. Fury is nothing like Wilder except for the fact both men have over the top personalities. Yet it’s the one thing they have in common that draws people to them…aside, of course, from their ring skills, which are considerable. Which is why both Fury and Wilder can get a pass when it comes to showy behavior. The Paul brothers, on the other hand…
The truth is that we live in an era where louder is better, where boastfulness tops genuine achievement. That’s as true for boxing as it is for pretty much any other public endeavor. Perhaps it was always that way, and those who occupy this particular moment in history have chosen to embrace that reality with a passion never before seen. No matter. The truth is that fights like Logan Paul vs Floyd Mayweather will have more sizzle than Joshua vs Usyk because people like the sizzle at the expense of the steak (a quick aside – Mayweather was undoubtedly a great fighter, but he certainly knows the Paul fight wasn’t a serious matter).
Joshua and Usyk, however, are onto something. They know that when all is said and done, even the loudest person in the room can’t take away massive achievements. And just getting to a bout the level of Joshua-Usyk is a massive achievement. People may love loud talk, but it can be cheap when it’s not backed up. Joshua and Usyk have been able to let their fists essentially do the talking thus far. And they’ll most likely continue to Saturday in Britain. That’s what makes this bout such a must see event for serious fans.
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