For all but the most devoted fans (i.e. people who need a life like me), only the top matters. If a fight isn’t for a belt or between contenders, they largely can’t be bothered to watch it. In some ways, this explains the proliferation of various nonsense alphabet straps over the last three decades. Convince people that a fight is important and they’ll watch it.
Unfortunately, this has led to prospects getting matched with beatable opponents so their management or promotional team can sell them as a champion. If you’ve watched Deontay Wilder defend his “title” you know that you’re seeing a work in progress, and that calling him a champion cheapens the word more with each awkward lunge and spastic attempt at a jab. However, some of us do enjoy tracking a prospect over the years as they increase their competition and mature in the ring. We’re the equivalent of people who go to Single A baseball games to scout our team’s recently drafted second baseman, not just for Thirsty Thursday beers.
If you were one of the people who streamed Joseph Parker defend his “title” last Saturday in Manukau City, New Zealand, odds are good that the belt had no bearing on it. Parker isn’t the most heralded heavyweight prospect at the moment, that’s Anthony Joshua, but he might have the highest ceiling. Parker was fighting 6’7” Alexander Dimitrenko, and the question going in was how he would deal with the Russian’s size. Somehow, people have convinced themselves that the 6’4”, 235 pound Parker is small for a heavyweight, which is something that could only be said during our recent era of Soviet Bloc yetis crowding the division.
Parker dispatched Dimitrenko in three rounds, flooring him in every round, and convincing the Russian to attempt to draw a disqualification when Parker hit him while he was on a knee. To be quite fair, it was a foul, and Dimitrenko should not have been counted out. Referee Marlon Wright bungled it. That said, it was an intriguing performance from Parker. He punched fluidly in combination and his movement looked balanced and quick. We didn’t get to see if the stamina issues he’d shown against Carlos Takam might crop up again, but that’s okay. It was also nice to see him not throwing arm punches.
If you’re a child of the 90s like me, you grew up during a golden era for heavyweights. Everyone at the top could box and punch with power, and most were relatively quick on their feet. Parker in some ways represents a bigger version of those guys. He’s athletic, quick fisted, and can crack with either hand. I’ve enjoyed watching him mature in the ring over the last couple of years. If he and Joshua can banish the lumbering stiffs of the division, so much the better. Boxing is better when the big guys are fun.
- 25 year old Scottish welterweight Mike Towell died last Friday, one day after collapsing in the ring after being stopped in the 5th round of a fight. It was only his 13th fight of a three year career. Never forget what a brutal sport this is, or that a young boy has lost his father.
- Many fighters who have had an opponent die never get over it, and it’s understandable. The guilt that’s felt when knowing another person died because of you can rip you apart. I hope Towell’s opponent, Dale Evans, doesn’t take this too harshly. He did his job honestly and the odds that it would lead to a death are infinitesimally small.
- Several high profile British boxing figures have chipped in to raise money for Towell’s family. Ricky Hatton opened a fundraising page, donating the first £5,000 himself, which is over £40,000 as of this writing. Matchroom Sports has also announced that all proceeds from ticket sales their Friday show from midnight (GMT) Wednesday night to midnight Thursday night will be donated to the Towell family.
- Boxing is a savage sport, with shady underhanded business dealing, but there are a great many kind, generous people in it. It’s nice to be reminded of that from time to time.
- Speaking of people who are neither kind, nor generous, the fucking cretins at the WBC announced that the outstanding Orlando Salido – Takashi Miura fight scheduled for Dec 17th would be for an interim title. Think about the wording of that announcement. These professional extortionist behave as if they are giving the fighters permission to face each other. They have no power. NONE. They can’t stop a fight from happening or make one happen. Their authority is a total con. Fucking hell it takes a brass set to behave in that fashion. I hope you’ll all join me in wishing these thieving sacks of lemur spunk a prolonged bout of rectal implosion.