By: Sean Crose
It seems we’re always hearing about this or that “new reality.” The truth, however, is that Covid-19 has indeed brought about a new reality – at least temporarily. Boxing fans, like most sports fans, have had to sit out watching their favorite sport live for months now. Since the UFC recently began showing fights in empty arenas, however, the possibility of fighting without a live and in-person audience has suddenly become promising. Yet boxing is not the UFC. Top boxers aren’t underpaid for literally putting their lives on the line in order to earn a paycheck (if only the same could be said of all professional boxers). Something has to give.
“I would definitely fight for the love of my sport,” WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua recently told Chris Mannix of Sport’s Illustrated. Joshua, it seems, is a top boxer who is willing to bend a little, who is willing to deal with the silence of an empty arena and the loss of some dollars in order to ply his trade. “I’m never too big to earn a buck,” he added. “It’s a Godsend to fight for that kind of money that I do.” Whatever one thinks of the towering Englishman, it’s hard not to nod in approval at his gamesmanship.
That’s especially true in this era of fighters wanting to earn millions for relatively small challenges. Joshua told Mannix “It’s all about growth,” which makes sense when one considers what the past 12 months have been like for the 23-1 heavyweight. After being stunned in his American debut by Andy Ruiz last spring, Joshua changed tactics and easily boxed his way back to his title belts in a rematch last December in Saudi Arabia. The man is now clearly – and understandably – eager to see what else he can do as a professional fighter.
Word has been making the rounds that Joshua might well face WBC and Lineal heavyweight champ Tyson Fury in what would obviously be a British superbout (like Joshua, Fury hails from England). Yet it’s hard to imagine Deontay Wilder, who Fury stopped last February, and Kubrat Pulev, who is in line to fight Joshua next, taking step aside money when both men are legally set to battle for slices of the heavyweight pie. No matter. Joshua is clearly ready to get back to the fight business…even if it costs him a few bucks and an electric atmosphere. Corny as it may sound, it’s the kind of attitude one expects from a champion.