The Real Bosses of Boxing have spoken, and they want Heavyweight Unification in 2020!
In subsequent weeks, following his decisive victory over former "one and done" champion Andy Ruiz Jr., current IBF/WBO/WBA Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has become inundated with seemingly absurd ultimatums from two of the primary four "alphabet soup" sanctioning organizations regarding "mandatory" title defenses.
Let's examine this for just a moment: Would fans prefer to see a heavyweight unification contest between Anthony Joshua and the eventual winner of Wilder vs. Fury 2 in 2020? Or would the paying customers rather see a legitimate champion get stripped of his coveted titles because he doesn't want his entire calendar filled with mandatory challenges from the IBF and the WBO?
Fan response has been overwhelmingly in favor of the former.
Of course, theoretically, if champions don't honor their various mandatory defense requirements, how are hungry number one contenders expected to receive their just opportunities within the sport of boxing?
Unlike the NFL or the NBA, fans rule the sport of boxing...always have and always will.
For decades critics of the sport have heavily scrutinized the way the sweet science has been run, making claims of unfairness and inequality to the fighters predominately. How many times have fight fans heard the following argument:
"There needs to be a centralized governing body which forces the hand of these greedy promoters who seem to do what's best for their own organizations, not the sport of boxing, and definitely not for their own fighters!!"
Promoters have always known the truth about their beloved boxing...the fans have always been the real bosses of the sport, not the various sanctioning organizations or state athletic commissions, and definitely not the hard-working fighters. Of course, there is no sport without the brave combatants who consistently put their health on hold for fan entertainment.
But without the paying customers, there is no occupation for any of these gallant pugilists...they'd be forced to get a day job just like the fans who pay their respective bills. The various members of the sanctioning organizations who gladly take 3% of most fighters' purses would have to find an alternative faction to exploit. Trainers, managers, advisers and promoters would be forced to find work in some other entertainment field if it weren't for the die-hard boxing fans.
In other popular sports like the NFL or NBA, a player's stats have always determined his worth, and fans are happy to support the league and its rules. For the most part, fans are happy seeing the same match-ups year after year in other sports. NFL fans are happy to see the Cowboys face the Redskins twice a year. Just like baseball fans seem to genuinely look forward to watching their beloved Yankees face the Red Sox 15 times per year.
In team sports, it works. Unfortunately in individual sports, it's not so easy.
In boxing, the fans have always determined a fighter's worth...without demand, there's no money. The fight game has always been run more like the music industry, and not an organized pastime.
Promoters have always known this...even when the fighters and fans didn't.
The fighters want it...and more importantly, the fans have spoken with a resounding voice: They want to see Heavyweight unification in 2020...period!
Sanctioning organizations would be wise to remember that a belt doesn't make a fighter popular...but a popular fighter makes their belt(s). The only reason why the IBF gained popularity in the early to mid-eighties was that Larry Holmes elected to wear their heavyweight strap around his waist. I hope Daryl Peoples, president of the IBF, sends the Easton Assassin a nice fruit basket every Christmas season.
Without his endorsement, no fight fan would currently consider that red trinket to be anything of importance...they would be wise to remember that the IBF Heavyweight title is worth a lot more around Anthony Joshua's waist than any other fighter currently.
Once again the people have spoken...the real bosses of boxing. When did they say this exactly? When they deemed Anthony Joshua to be the overwhelming breadwinner of heavyweight boxing...how do you think he got that way? When droves of paying customers supported his efforts in the ring, they made their collective voices heard. Promoters listened.
What makes AJ so special? Why him?
It's a question promoters have been asking themselves since they began staging prizefights.
Truth is there is no rhyme or reason why fans gravitate to specific fighters and not others. They just do.
Memo to all of the promoters, sanctioning organizations, advisers and fighters involved in the convoluted Heavyweight triangle of Joshua/Wilder/Fury: Make the damn unification fight happen in 2020!!
Rather than merely regurgitating more of the same, let's allow the people's champ to put things in its proper perspective:
"Here's the thing...I was better when I wasn't champion, because I didn't have that type of pressure about that type of stuff (mandatory duties from sanctioning organizations). You know I want to fight Wilder," stated Anthony Joshua in a recent interview with iFL TV.
"Take the belts. Strip me of all my belts, strip him of his belt...I'll still fight Wilder."
"I don't really care. I just want to fight whomever. I just want to fight the best. I'll fight Wilder because he's one of the best fighters in the world. It's not just about the belts. It's about just fighting the best. Whether I fight Wilder or not, you know what I've been trying to do for a long time. I've been speaking about it for over a year or two. You know where my head's at with it. It's a competition I'd welcome."
Well said, champ!!
If fans really want to see AJ face the eventual winner of Wilder vs. Fury 2, keep making your collective voices heard on every boxing forum on every social media outlet. The fans are the real bosses of boxing!
Related FightSaga Stories
- AJ Boxing
- ANTHONY JOSHUA
- DEONTAY WILDER
- HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING
- IBF Boxing
- JOSHUA VS WILDER
- TYSON FURY
- WBO Boxing
- WILDER VS FURY 2