The undercard apart, the protection surrounding Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua was a triumphant return to kind for giant time boxing within the UK, writes George Gigney as he examines the boxing media’s choices
IF THAT was to be Anthony Joshua’s final fight on Sky Sports, it was a fitting send off – and never due to the end result. Yes, Oleksandr Usyk’s gorgeous win over the Brit throws the heavyweight division into a fascinating state of disarray, however the occasion on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be described as nothing in need of a roaring success.
As the UK, and the world, continues to fight its approach out of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, to see nearly 70,000 roaring followers packed contained in the mesmerising stadium was without delay each unusual and comforting. It was a signal of what’s potential, and it was one more testomony to the staggering drawing energy of Joshua, significantly when he’s combating somebody as achieved as Usyk.
There could have been a noticeable lack in that ‘big fight’ 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 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 effectively all through the evening. They rightly questioned the six-round choice given to Campbell Hatton, and dealt with one other tough state of affairs elsewhere on the invoice with class. When Callum Smith floored Lenin Castillo with a flush proper hand, the Dominican remained on his again together with his left leg twitching uncontrollably. It was a distressing sight, and Andy Clarke and Matt Macklin on commentary didn’t focus on the ending blow or what’s subsequent for Smith, however as a substitute 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] body is no longer working!” Reacting to the occasions in a boxing ring is a tough job, however to experience what was clearly a medical emergency is simply plain improper.
Just as Smith selected to not have fun as soon as he realised Castillo had not risen, the Sky broadcast didn’t present any replays of the knockout. Thankfully, later on 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 turn out to be responsive.
Adam Smith took over from Clarke for the latter levels of the cardboard, together with the principle occasion. While there was criticism of Joshua within the wake of his loss, Smith and Macklin appeared to name the fight pretty, highlighting the masterful techniques and execution of Usyk’s work, somewhat than postulating that Joshua was below par.
We don’t but know whether or not Joshua will persist with 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 Show. A shoutout also needs to go to Josh Taylor and Chris Eubank Jnr, who had been wonderful as pundits.
Boxing Social has steadily been rising into a useful supply of boxing content material, offering interviews in the identical vein as different channels like IFL TV. Now, they seem to have discovered a hole 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 talk about the Joshua-Usyk fight and undercard. It’s a easy sufficient premise however one which conjured up an fascinating dialogue, with Rob Tebbutt internet hosting the chat.
Boxing Social additionally launched a sequence 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 distinguished matters within the sport. The likes of Shane McGuigan and Mike Costello had been company on completely different episodes.
With high quality manufacturing worth and insightful discussions, hopefully this sequence continues to develop.
IFL, as they so typically do, additionally rolled out numerous video interviews throughout fight week, although probably the most fascinating ones got here after Usyk had defeated Joshua. While they managed to seize Joshua, Usyk and different names straight concerned within the fight, it was the views of consultants and observers that offered probably 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 ought to be very cautious of going straight into a rematch with Usyk, and that he could have had too many voices in his nook.
Whatever your take on it, there’s something to be mentioned for a number of completely different trade insiders adopting the identical view. Now, within the coming weeks and months, we are going to 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 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 perfect fighter Joshua may 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 records that make a fight.” Obviously, 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.