The undercard apart, the protection surrounding Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua was a triumphant return to type for large time boxing within the UK, writes George Gigney as he examines the boxing media’s choices
IF THAT was to be Anthony Joshua’s last struggle on Sky Sports activities, it was a becoming ship off – and never due to the outcome. Sure, Oleksandr Usyk’s beautiful win over the Brit throws the heavyweight division into a captivating state of disarray, however the occasion on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could be described as nothing in need of a roaring success.
Because the UK, and the world, continues to struggle its means out of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, to see virtually 70,000 roaring followers packed contained in the mesmerising stadium was directly each unusual and comforting. It was an indication of what’s doable, and it was one more testomony to the staggering drawing energy of Joshua, significantly when he’s combating somebody as completed as Usyk.
There could have been a noticeable lack in that ‘massive struggle’ really feel main as much as Saturday evening, however there’s no query that the occasion itself had that intangible and unmissable high quality to it. Credit score must go to Sky and the organisers, together with Matchroom Boxing.
The undercard was, as anticipated, fairly common, although the commentary and punditry groups labored nicely all through the evening. They rightly questioned the six-round resolution given to Campbell Hatton, and dealt with one other troublesome scenario elsewhere on the invoice with class. When Callum Smith floored Lenin Castillo with a flush proper hand, the Dominican remained on his again along with his left leg twitching uncontrollably. It was a distressing sight, and Andy Clarke and Matt Macklin on commentary didn’t give attention to the ending blow or what’s subsequent for Smith, however as an alternative saved themselves collected and monitored the situation of Castillo as he was attended to by medical professionals.
The identical can’t be mentioned for the DAZN commentary staff, with Todd Grisham screaming in obvious ecstasy that “His [Castillo’s] physique is now not working!” Reacting to the occasions in a boxing ring is a troublesome job, however to experience what was clearly a medical emergency is simply plain flawed.
Simply as Smith selected to not have a good time as soon as he realised Castillo had not risen, the Sky broadcast didn’t present any replays of the knockout. Fortunately, in a while within the evening it was confirmed that Castillo had undergone mind scans which got here again clear and he was launched from hospital, having as soon as once more change into responsive.
Adam Smith took over from Clarke for the latter phases of the cardboard, together with the principle occasion. Whereas there was criticism of Joshua within the wake of his loss, Smith and Macklin appeared to name the struggle pretty, highlighting the masterful techniques and execution of Usyk’s work, quite than postulating that Joshua was beneath par.
We don’t but know whether or not Joshua will stick to Sky or transfer over to DAZN with the remainder of Matchroom Boxing, however Saturday’s occasion proved how adept the previous are at staging The Joshua Present. A shoutout must also go to Josh Taylor and Chris Eubank Jnr, who had been wonderful as pundits.
Boxing Social has steadily been rising right into a precious supply of boxing content material, offering interviews in the identical vein as different channels like IFL TV. Now, they seem to have discovered a niche available in the market and are producing extra long-form movies and podcasts.
On Sunday, they invited in Clarke, author Declan Taylor and pundit Ade Oladipo to interrupt down and focus on the Joshua-Usyk struggle and undercard. It’s a easy sufficient premise however one which conjured up an attention-grabbing dialogue, with Rob Tebbutt internet hosting the chat.
Boxing Social additionally launched a collection of podcasts on their YouTube channel all through the week, looking forward to Joshua-Usyk but additionally fights like Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder and different outstanding matters within the sport. The likes of Shane McGuigan and Mike Costello had been visitors on totally different episodes.
With high quality manufacturing worth and insightful discussions, hopefully this collection continues to develop.
IFL, as they so usually do, additionally rolled out numerous video interviews throughout struggle week, although essentially the most attention-grabbing ones got here after Usyk had defeated Joshua. Whereas they managed to seize Joshua, Usyk and different names straight concerned within the struggle, it was the views of specialists and observers that offered essentially the most content material to delve into.
The likes of Peter Fury, David Haye, Jamie Moore and Josh Taylor had been all requested for his or her opinions and there was loads of settlement on two factors: that Joshua needs to be very cautious of going straight right into a rematch with Usyk, and that he could have had too many voices in his nook.
No matter your tackle it, there’s something to be mentioned for a number of totally different business insiders adopting the identical view. Now, within the coming weeks and months, we’ll see if Joshua chooses to take any of it on board.
FOX Sports ran an op-ed reflecting on Joshua’s loss to Usyk, claiming that ‘AJ’ had misplaced to a different “banana pores and skin,” the opposite being Andy Ruiz in 2019. Straight off the bat, that’s off the mark; anybody with an curiosity in boxing knew Usyk was a lot greater than that, and arguably the most effective fighter Joshua could have ever confronted. The piece additionally goes on to say that the heavyweight division is now in ruins as a result of Joshua misplaced his titles and argues that potential future fights with the likes of Wilder and Fury maintain no worth as a result of “it’s the belts, the undefeated data that make a struggle.” Clearly, that’s insanity. For one, Joshua can nonetheless rebuild and stays one of the vital marketable fighters on the planet, even with out his heavyweight crown. Plus, the addition of Usyk into the heavyweight elite makes the division much more thrilling, not much less so. Now there’s one other title to create potential superfights with.