It’s already been a packed year in the world of pugilism. We’ve seen Tony Bellew with his upset victory over the Haymaker, we watched Wembley quake during the epic Joshua v Klitschko bout and most recently glimpsed another sign of Pacquiao’s waining powers after his defeat in the ring at the fists of Jeff Horn.
With nearly another six months of bouts to look forward to we ask our resident boxing expert David Jarvis to give us the 411 on what fight fans can expect in the near future.
The MALESTROM: So first off Manny Pacquiao losing to Jeff Horn came out of nowhere! Is this just a case of an ageing fighter reaching the end? Or is doing Horn a disservice?
David Jarvis: It’s a difficult one to assess. I hate sitting on the fence but it has to be a bit of both. You have to credit Horn for fighting a great fight. He took away Manny’s famed lateral movement with his own constant in and out movement. And that is what he said he would do, so fair play to him. Manny just couldn’t fight his own fight. That said, the Manny of old would certainly have finished Horn in the ninth. I think the bottom line is Horn is not a great fighter and those tactics, clever as they were against Manny, will not work against the likes of Thurman, Garcia etc. They would destroy him. It’s time for Manny to quit though, there is no doubt he is not the force he was.
TM: It’s been a bumper year so far, what are looking forward to in the rest of 2017?
DJ: You know the fight I would love to see is Bradley Skeete getting his shot against Horn. That may sound mad but I think Skeete is there or there abouts for his shot and I truly believe he would school the Aussie. Horn now holds the WBO belt who rank Skeete in their number three spot. I can see Horn being tempted by that fight if the rematch with Manny doesn’t happen.
That aside who would not be excited by Mikey Garcia against Adrian Broner. It’s a fascinating match with three-weight champion Garcia moving up to super lightweight and four-weight champion Broner actually moving down after his last outing at welter. Weight issues aside, Garcia is an instrument of destructive precision and I can see him stopping The Problem. Can’t wait.
TM: Golovkin v Alvarez is an interesting fight, both got huge loyal fan bases – how do you see it going? After the Brook fight, we’re leaning towards Alvarez?
DJ: Definitely. Kell Brook exposed Golovkin for me. A good technical boxer can get to him – Kell showed that in spades – and Alvarez is a very accomplished and patient fighter inside the ring. Far better than the boy who was schooled by Mayweather. My feeling is a fighter who doesn’t run against GGG but can stand with him, but slip and show him angles, can make it their fight. It is a big if. But Alvarez has the tools. Truly fascinating. And is it just me…? But does GGG start to blow a bit after six rounds or so?
TM: Could you be so kind as to shed a bit of light on the Deontay Wilder situation? You’ve got a guy who looks the part, is certainly dangerous and powerful, but why the hell won’t he leave his hometown and actually fight someone half decent?
DJ: Great question. The man is an enigma. He seems torn between his trash talk ring persona and the father who only took up boxing to provide a life for his eldest daughter Naieya, 12, who was born with spina bifida. I like him but don’t know what goes on in his head.
TM: Do you think there are weaknesses that could see him get comfortably beaten by a proper boxer and they’re just avoiding fights?
DJ: Definitely. He can be wild and off balance which would see him caught out against real quality. And there is something else, sometimes he looks like he is fighting scared. Maybe that’s unfair and maybe has something to do with his lack of technique. But you would expect his handlers at some point to let him off the leash to cash in against the big guns. But we are way past that point. When he was over for Joshua v Klitschko he seemed to be entertaining the prospect of a Bellew fight. Come on! Why? I don’t get it.
TM: Andre Ward against Kovalev 2 – still wasn’t a completely satisfactory ending? But we have to look at Ward now as the pound for pound No1?
DJ: Not for me. The Kovalev ending was totally unsatisfactory. There were far too many low blows before Kovalev went down. The ref admitted afterwards he wouldn’t have stopped it if he had seen the low blows. I don’t like Ward as a fighter I’m afraid I never have. He fiddles, confuses, holds, pushes, tricks… you name it. He’s a gnarly sort of animal in the ring. No doubt he has great skills, great generalship, great will to win, but I don’t like the way he messes his opponents around. Kovalev’s mistake in that fight was looking to the ref. He should have done what Ricky Hatton famously did to Kostya Tszyu – bang him back down south in return and level the playing field. That said I was surprised how he fell apart after that head shot. But I would never put Ward in as pound for pound. Too much of his game is not nice to watch.
TM: The most likely scenario still looks like Bellew v Haye later in the year, certainly as far as money is concerned, but we can’t help thinking Bellew v Ward would potentially be a great fight?
DJ: Now you are talking. I like that fight… a lot. Lets see what happens when Ward hits the Bomber low. I can tell you now there will be fireworks and he will not be worrying about the ref… or crying foul. Clearly, Ward is the better boxer, but he gets hit more these days and is a little slower at light heavy. That fight would have to be at cruiser and this may be my heart ruling my head but Tony stops him. Ward has a massive ego and this is a bridge too far. It makes a lot of sense, more for Bellew – he should stay clear of the heavies, apart from Haye, who is nowhere near what he was.
TM: Could you explain how long Klitschko get’s to decide whether he wants a rematch, it’s all quite confusing?
DJ: As long as he wants. The money generated in Vegas for that fight will be eye-watering and nobody is going to stop it happening or lose patience with Klitschko. This is prizefighting. And for once in boxing I would say he has earned the right. Who doesn’t want to see that epic in the ring again? Ask yourself why Mayweather is fighting McGregor… large amounts of life-changing money. You are talking about the kind of sums that can finance revolutions, open hospitals or bring water to the Sahara. That’s a lot of marbles on the table and Mr K knows it and so do the WBA and IBF who will see a large piece of it when the fight happens. Why the delay? Klitschko doesn’t like fighting outside Germany so he is thinking, pondering, playing chess, looking for an advantage… but I can’t see him quitting after coming so close in the first fight.
TM: Joseph Parker is looking less and less convincing with each fight? What are your thoughts on him?
DJ: I haven’t seen too much of him, but he is a winning fighter and looks well schooled. He has a good work rate for a heavyweight too. I think its fair to say he needs a test so that we can see what he has. For me Hughie Fury and Parker are well matched.
TM: Hughie Fury could wrap up a points victory in this one?
DJ: Difficult to say. They are both unbeaten. It will be interesting to see how this one goes.
TM: And Eubank Jr against Arthur Abraham on Saturday – that looks like a dangerous fight? Which is a good thing!
It certainly isn’t a pay-per-view fight. I know that much. For me Eubank will be too young and too fast for Abraham who at 37 is still a strong but essentially a plodding, come forward type these days. His future is in his past, as they say and thought he can soak up whatever Jr throws at him he loses a wide points decision. For me this is a great learning fight for Eubank and if he keeps his head he should win comfortably maybe with the odd scare.
TM: Ok if you could pick any fight to get made right now, what are you going for?
DJ: Guillermo Rigondeaux v Vasyl Lomachenko at featherweight – if they can both make feather comfortably.
Forget Ward – these two are the pound for pound ring kings!
David has been writing about boxing since 1995 starting for Boxing Monthly as their reporter doing British, European, Commonwealth and World title fights. He says it was a privilege to be their York Hall man covering fights there and others on the domestic scene. After a move to Scotland he became The Scotsman’s boxing writer (as well as news editor). He now contributes to Boxing Monthly, doing features.