PPV, Prospects, Upsets and the End of the Road?: The Story of Bad Intentions

anthony joshua
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig

Matt Bevan

Last weekend we finally got the much hyped Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte grudge match at the O2 Arena in London, with the Olympic gold medalist coming through to stop his bitter rival in the seventh round.

It was entertaining as the two men went to war and some questions were answered around Joshua, who has got so much momentum behind him it is scary. There can be no doubt he has been good for boxing in the UK.

In terms of bringing the casual fans in, no one has done more than Joshua. Eddie Hearn, Matchroom and Sky Sports have pushed him harder than anyone else in recent years, building him up as a saviour to not just British boxing, but the world heavyweight scene.

There have been ridiculous comparisons online, where if you believe the social media pages, Joshua could beat every great heavyweight on the same night and no one comes close.

But, before Saturday we had no idea if he could take a shot. In many ways it was similar to Frank Bruno’s moment when he ran into Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings, who had him in all sorts of trouble early on in their fight back in 1983 at the Royal Albert Hall.

Bruno hung on and stopped Cummings in the seventh, like Joshua did to Whyte, after “AJ” took a short left hook that nearly caused his legs to betray him. Joshua claimed he was never truly hurt, but his legs told another story and a frailty and vulnerability has perhaps been exposed.

Whyte is a good heavyweight and went to close the show, but couldn’t do it. Would someone like Alexander Povetkin, Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko or a returning David Haye have let him off? Absolutely not.

We may find that answer out soon if he continues to be placed as high up the rankings as he has so far. Lets be honest, he hadn’t fought anybody until Saturday, which was his first real test. People speak about Kevin Johnson, who hadn’t been stopped until he ran into Joshua earlier this year, but in reality the American veteran was the safest and easiest for “AJ” to get a decent name on his record.

The Watford giant has been excellent for British boxing and has created so much interest in a short space of time. Whyte called him a fake, which seems to be true to an extent, as his whole persona comes across as an act at times, but what happens to that interest when he loses?

Will those fans hang around and continue to tune in to boxing or will they say he wasn’t all that in the first place? It’s a question that will remain unanswered until after his next fight, which is looking likely to be against Dereck Chisora, who will be another test, and quite frankly, a much better one than Whyte.

Chisora has been to the summit, taken on the best and doesn’t back down from a challenge. Joshua coped with the emotion and the edge that Whyte brought to the last weekend’s fight, but mentally Chisora won’t be fazed by anything, no matter Hearn claims will happen to him.

It’s a good fight for Joshua and Chisora will really test his credentials and see whether the hype is genuine. It is probably the right fight at the right time, as it was for Luke Campbell on Saturday, when he was defeated by former French lightweight champion, Yvan Mendy.

Campbell is undoubtedly a top talent, so to beat him it has to be a good performance. Mendy was excellent and came for the win, something no Campbell opponent has ever done before.

Plenty of fans called for Campbell to be in tests like the one he had Saturday just a few fights into his career. Others have done it, so why not Campbell? But instead he was held back for a local derby with Tommy Coyle in Hull and he looks to have stagnated.

Campbell will be back and the defeat will set him in good stead, but his star has definitely fallen after Saturday. Can the same be said for Kevin Mitchell, who suffered another heartbreaking defeat, this time to unheralded Ismael Barroso.

The Venezuelan wasn’t well known in boxing circles, but has built up a decent record, however Mitchell was expected to get the win and a shot at Anthony Crolla for the WBA lightweight belt next year.

But, you can’t plan too far ahead in boxing and Barroso well and truly wrecked the party, putting Mitchell’s career in fresh doubt. He is a popular figure and he deserved a chance to reign as a world champion, but never took his opportunity.

Personal issues blighted the Michael Katsidis fight, he was outclassed by Ricky Burns and broken down by Jorge Linares, who stopped him when he was ahead on the cards. This time he was flattened by Barroso.

Gone was the man who bamboozled and oozed class as he dominated Breidis Prescott, for me still his best performance. It was a sad sight to see on Saturday and I can’t see him just wanting to be a name for someone else’s record. He’ll continue but it appears that he has run out of time in claiming a world title.

With the amount of belts around at the moment, in particular the WBA who are a disgrace, it’s surprising that Mitchell never reached the top. It will be an even bigger surprise if Chris Eubank Jr doesn’t get there.

Eubank Jr was in a shootout with Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan which stole the show, ending when O’Sullivan retired at the end of the seventh. Eubank is now the mandatory to Daniel Jacobs’ WBA “Regular” middleweight title and also has his eye on “Super” Champion Gennady Golovkin.

Sign me up for either fight, as the Eubank Circus is guaranteed entertainment. He is the perfect fighter to put alongside Joshua as Matchroom and Sky will look to keep churning out PPV cards at the O2. Joshua is now at the level where we won’t see him on regular Sky again, as people will pay to see him, thanks to his promoters. The Eubank name alongside him will make sense to the business brains at Sky.

British Boxing Fans, casual or hardcore, brace yourself for a flurry of PPV’s next year coming from the same people who declared it would be a thing of the past after the Haye Klitschko fight back in 2011.

Find Matt’s Thursday article here every week; don’t forget to follow his account on Twitter: @MBevs68

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