Dec 10th, 2016 was a huge night for boxing. We had a plethora of fights, especially in the UK, where they had a stacked card on tap. Quite a few title fights, with many of boxing’s rising stars to be viewed. Ironically out of all the bouts, one of the biggest mismatches of the day, turned out to be the most important of them all.
Anthony Joshua went against Eric Molina in a heavyweight clash for the IBF world heavyweight title. Joshua was as much as a 20-1 favorite. Nobody in attendance, nor any viewers at home expected much of a challenge for Joshua, and to say he had his way with the challenger would be an understatement. Joshua dominated Molina, putting him on the canvas in the 4th, before brutally punishing Molina in the corner, forcing the referee to stop the contest.
The real significance of this bout would only rise to the forefront after the final bell rung. In attendance and watching intently, former heavyweight king, Wladimir Klitschko. All Joshua had to do was win this contest, and a huge showdown with Wladimir would be signed, sealed, and delivered!
This could potentially be the biggest fight in British heavyweight history. A huge payday, and a gigantic step in the direction of a king at heavyweight being crowned. Not only will Joshua’s newly acquired IBF title be on the line, but the vacant WBA world title as well. That means the winner of the bout will have half of the four major world title belts, unifying half the division in the process. We could as boxing fans, be witness to one of two major storylines, as a result of this contest. We could be witness to Anthony Joshua beating a living legend and catapulting himself into superstar status. Or we could see a once thought to be faded legend, reclaim his thrown, and cement himself as one of the greatest heavyweights in history. After many had written him off, after his terrible loss and performance against Tyson Fury.
April 29, 2017, at Wembley Stadium, at least 80,000 people will pack the house. The Cobra, Carl Froch loves to remind anyone who will listen, that 80,000 watched his epic knockout of George Groves at the same place. Well, it is safe to say, that record might be broken, and also cast a huge shadow over every fight that has ever been held in the stadium. This event is already so massive on scale, that more than 4 months out from the fight, a press conference has been held, just days after the Molina fight. Also, a bidding war for the rights to broadcast the fight in the states has begun between Showtime and HBO boxing.
Anthony Joshua, the Cinderella story who has only been boxing amateur and pro combined, for a grand total of 7 years. Will be facing the seasoned veteran who reigned over the division, longer than Joshua has been plying his trade as a boxer. Joshua has a record of 18-0, 18 KO’s, and even with a world title in hand, you can make the case he is still in the prospect phase of his career. Klitschko is 64-4, 54 KO’s, has far more experience on his side, yet he’s fighting an undefeated champion. No not Joshua, but father time, and we all know how unforgiving he can be.
Anthony Joshua is quickly becoming a main event attraction in the UK. Despite his lack of resume, the fans love him in his home country beyond measure. His fights sell out regularly, and the pay-per-view numbers only enhance his potential stardom. Joshua is viewed by many as the future of the division, with many more seeing him as a force that could put heavyweight boxing back at the center of the sport. A win over Wladimir Klitschko could turn this British fighter with a massive following, into a household name the world over. Well spoken, humble, and extremely hard working, Joshua has every intangible to become a boxing superstar, and a marketing dream.
Wladimir Klitschko has not fought in over a year, having two rematches with Fury fall apart, due to injury postponement, then a failed drug test by Fury, which resulted in the loss of Tyson Fury’s titles. His last performance was a forgettable one. One of the worst fights in heavyweight title history. Wladimir looked lost, and seemed to age 20 years over night. Fury took his titles with one of the most underwhelming performances ever, which tells you just how bad Wladimir was on this night. Many felt that Wladimir’s time had finally come to an end, and his reign over the division was over. If Wladimir is able to defeat Joshua, and do this in dominant fashion, the talk of Wladimir being done as a true contender will have to abruptly stop. The 40 year old Klitschko will turn 41 a month before the fight. Even with his vast experience, defeating the young, hungry, hard punching Joshua, will be a very tall task. Klitschko is already a sure fire hall of fame fighter, and this type of win at the end of his career, could potentially put him in the discussion as a top 10 all-time heavyweight.
The ramifications of this contest, the potential fallout, the matchups that could result depending on the outcome, should have boxing fans salivating at the prospects. The fights that have already been announced for the 2017 calendar were enough to have boxing fans expecting a big year. This fight alone could send shockwaves through the sport, and make 2017 one of the biggest in recent memory. What shall 2017 bring for these titans? Could we have the rise of a superstar, or the reemergence of a once great king? April 29, 2017, two giants will clash, and these questions, and many more shall be answered.Contact the Feature Writers