Action Images/Andrew Couldridge
Anthony Joshua is stepping up
‘When is Anthony Joshua going to be really tested?’ It’s a question many boxing fans have asked themselves, and others, over the course of the IBF heavyweight champion’s meteroic rise, but we now have a definitive answer: April 29, 2017. At Wembley Stadium Joshua will defend his title and contest the vacant WBA belt against former division leader and all-time great Wladimir Klitschko. It is a megafight that looks set to smash British boxing attendance and revenue records. Though he is a pre-fight favourite, Joshua will need to bring his best in order to beat Klitschko. In fact, it’s the first time in the Londoner’s career that the conclusion of one of his fights is not foregone. It’s a fascinating clash and the winner will be the best heavyweight on the planet while Tyson Fury continues to recover from his personal issues.
Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora proved us all wrong
As their pre-fight bravado inevitably devolved into chaos, most observors felt the eventual meeting of heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora would be a disappointment – Boxing News certainly felt so. Wow, were we wrong. Instead, the pair knocked lumps out of each other for 12 rounds and exposed every ounce of their beings for us all to see. Whyte somehow survived early onslaughts from Chisora who, despite clearly being spent, absorbed everything Dillian threw and kept giving him hell. Easily the best fight in a British ring this year and there was even a sign of respect at the end. Both men more than made up for their childish behaviour before the fight and all we can hope for now is a rematch.
It aint over ’til it’s over
On the same card(!), Frank Buglioni earned the biggest win of his career by swallowing one-twos all night before stopping British light-heavyweight champion Hosea Burton in the final round. Typically bullish, Buglioni set a fierce pace against the bigger, rangier Burton but took a huge amount of punishment in the process. However, his tactics paid off as the fight dragged on and it made for an absorbing, gruelling encounter. Going into the final round Burton was ahead on the cards and as the final minute of the fight approached he looked set to retain his belt. He backed Buglioni up with a strong combination, only for Frank to weave and uncork a right hand to the top of Burton’s head, scrambling his senses and sending him over. He never recovered and Buglioni forced the stoppage, proving that nothing is certain in boxing.
Joseph Parker is a history-maker, but is now in at the deep end
Unbeaten Joseph Parker became the first ever New Zealand-born fighter to win the world heavyweight title when he narrowly outpointed Andy Ruiz on Saturday to clinch the WBO belt vacated by Tyson Fury. It was a close, fairly dull affair but Parker deserved the nod. Having also beaten the likes of Carlos Takam and Alexander Dimitrenko, Parker’s had a decent 2016 and his record over the past 12 months is arguably better than any other heavyweights. However, at just 24, he still needs time to improve. With a world title round his waist he may be allowed some soft defences but eventually the big boys will come calling.
Jermall Charlo has a mean streak
In Los Angeles, Jermall Charlo kept hold of his IBF super-welterweight title with a dramatic stoppage of previously unbeaten Julian Williams. In what was a 50-50 fight on paper, Charlo thrice dropped his man and ended the fight with an almighty uppercut, which sent Williams face-first into the canvas. Videos of the knockout have already gone viral on social media and Charlo, whose profile remains limited despite his talents, needs that kind of exposure. After the fight he turned back Williams’ offer of congratulations and there were some pretty ugly scenes. While that is never welcome in boxing, Charlo is beginning to show his dark side and that just might be exactly what he needs to get people interested.
Special mention: Kal Yafai dominated Concepcion
On a busy weekend of action we need an extra addition to the list to pay credit to Kal Yafai’s inspired showing. It was bitterly disappointing to see Luis Concepcion lose his WBA super-flyweight title on the scales, but he still presented a serious challenge to unbeaten Yafai, who could still win the title in Manchester. However, the Birmingham man dominated the contest from start to finish, regularing clubbing a befuddled Concepcion and winning every round in the process. It was a fitting display for Yafai’s coronation – he has never looked better and Concepcion had no answers. Now, Kal holds a world title in boxing’s most exciting division with the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Naoya Inoue, Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada all operating at super-flyweight.