ED­I­TOR’S LET­TER

It’s time for the best to meet the best at heavy­weight, even if the sanc­tion­ing bodies don’t agree

Boxing News - - Contents - Matt Christie @Mattcbox­ingnews Ed­i­tor Fol­low us and keep up to date @Box­ingnewsed Boxingnewsonline

Why Joshua-wilder is a must

ALL it takes is one but­tery heavy­weight to be smeared all over the ring and ev­ery­thing is for­given. For­get that Ber­mane Stiverne had done noth­ing to de­serve a shot at the WBC heavy­weight ti­tle. For­get that Stiverne was in no con­di­tion to be al­lowed any­where near a box­ing ring, let alone plonked in one where a pow­er­ful slug­ger like Deon­tay Wilder could take a run up and smash his face in. For­get all that. Be­cause we got to see a mas­sive knock­out in a ‘world’ heavy­weight ti­tle fight and it makes Wilder ver­sus IBF and WBA boss An­thony Joshua all the more mar­ketable. And that’s just what we wanted, right?

To an ex­tent, yes, but quench­ing some fans’ thirst for a bru­tal slay­ing cov­ers up all man­ner of sins. Granted, it was ab­so­lutely im­per­a­tive that Wilder – cru­elly de­nied a date with Luis Or­tiz after the Cuban flunked a drugs test – won em­phat­i­cally against the un­de­serv­ing Stiverne. An­other strug­gle like those en­dured in pre­vi­ous de­fences would not have helped his cause, nor would it have done any­thing for the sport or the di­vi­sion. But should we just ig­nore that Stiverne was dan­ger­ously out of his depth, both phys­i­cally and men­tally? We should cer­tainly put the vic­tory into per­spec­tive be­fore get­ting car­ried away, that’s for sure.

The WBC, still de­cid­ing whether or not Or­tiz will be ban­ished from their rank­ings due to mul­ti­ple drug of­fences, should be made to ex­plain why Stiverne was their No.1 con­tender - de­spite be­ing in­ac­tive since 2015, and test­ing pos­i­tive for banned sub­stances the fol­low­ing year.

Ab­so­lutely we want to see Joshua-wilder as soon as pos­si­ble be­cause the al­ter­na­tives for both men, with the ex­cep­tion of WBO ti­tlist Joseph Parker, make grim read­ing.

Stiverne isn’t the only poster boy for sanc­tion­ing bodies be­hav­ing badly. Hav­ing despatched the sturdy but un­spec­tac­u­lar Car­los Takam at the end of Oc­to­ber to ful­fil his IBF manda­tory com­mit­ment, Joshua could soon be or­dered to take on Rus­sian Alexan­der Usti­nov – the WBA’S lead­ing con­tender. Be­low Usti­nov in the WBA charts, in de­scend­ing or­der, are Fres Oquendo (in­ac­tive since fail­ing a post­fight drug test in 2014), Manuel Charr (stopped in five rounds by cruis­er­weight Maris Briedis in his most re­cent con­test against a known op­po­nent, and set to take on Usti­nov in an elim­i­na­tor) and Per­for­mance En­hanc­ing Drugs connoisseur, Alexan­der Povetkin.

The WBO too highly re­gard Povetkin (un­ranked by the WBC and IBF due to his crimes against the sport) and have matched him with the medi­ocre Chris­tian Ham­mer in a De­cem­ber elim­i­na­tor. Povetkin, whether il­le­gally en­hanced or not, should be far too skilled for Ham­mer and will then find him­self in pole po­si­tion for a crack at a ma­jor belt. If it wasn’t so sad, the lu­nacy of it all would be hi­lar­i­ous.

All of the above high­lights how im­pos­si­ble it will be for any fighter to re­side over all four ti­tles for any length of time. Both Joshua and Wilder have spo­ken of their dreams to be the undis­puted king but to do so – for more than one night only – would mean jug­gling an un­work­able sched­ule of manda­tory com­mit­ments. Not only that, they will have to grant nu­mer­ous drug of­fend­ers a shot at their hard-earned gold. While it all seems like a lovely idea, ro­man­tic al­most, to unify the ban­ner di­vi­sion, per­haps the likes of Joshua, Wilder and Parker should just fo­cus on fight­ing each other and sort out the true cham­pion be­tween them. Given that each is only likely to fight twice a year in to­day’s cli­mate, spend­ing six months build­ing up for a Usti­nov-type or a juiced-up fraud seems like a hor­ri­ble waste of time. The power should be with the lead­ers to en­sure a true king is recog­nised, and not the sanc­tion­ing bodies with their ridicu­lous rules and rank­ings. It’s wholly un­der­stand­able, given the di­vi­sion’s rich his­tory, why the lead­ers want that undis­puted tagline, but any­one dis­put­ing the claims of the last man stand­ing from Joshua, Wilder and Parker will have their san­ity scru­ti­nised. In turn, blue sky think­ing though it might be, the WBC, the WBA, the IBF and the WBO should then be scram­bling to be as­so­ci­ated with the true world heavy­weight cham­pion, rather than the king be­ing ea­ger for their ap­proval.

STIVERNE ISN’T THE ONLY POSTER BOY FOR SANC­TION­ING BODIES BE­HAV­ING BADLY

Photo: SHOW­TIME/TOM CASINO

WHAT A MESS: Stiverne had no busi­ness be­ing in a world ti­tle fight

Cover pho­tog­ra­phy Main: ED DILLER/ DIBELLA EN­TER­TAIN­MENT, QUEENSBERRY PRO­MO­TIONS/ MARK ROBIN­SON & HUW FAIR­CLOUGH

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