There’s a huge night of boxing taking place on Saturday night at London’s O2 Arena. In fact, it could just be the fight card of the year. Alongside a fascinating Heavyweight domestic clash between Dereck Chisora and Liverpool’s own David Price, is a real pick’em in the main event between two unbeaten men in American Regis Prograis and Scot Josh Taylor for the IBF and WBA super-lightweight titles. And with Saturday evening fast approaching, we spoke with our resident boxing expert David Jarvis to get the lowdown on this most mouthwatering night of action.
The MALESTROM: First off some very sad news concerning Patrick Day. Which of course brings with it the age-old question about making boxing safer. But where do you start? With so many boards and bodies, it really would take a collective agreement and some serious money being spent?
David Jarvis: What concerns me most is the proliferation of TV shows, and the increased frequency with which young boxers are fighting – and for higher stakes. We know boxing is dangerous. That’s a given. I really do believe everything is being done that can be done to minimise the risk. But boxing is booming and fighters are fitter and stronger, have better nutrition and have more scientific training regimes. And they are fighting more often.
It makes me feel uncomfortable when I see a kid fighting a four-rounder on the undercard of a pay per view show. It’s a massive stage for the beginning of a career and I see fighters being pushed to early to step up to fill these massive cards. I’m not sure if this increases risk, but my gut feeling is it does. Careers need to be managed and fighters protected and that does not always dovetail with the demands of TV channels and promotors.
I’m not saying any of this played into Patrick Day’s death but I am saying the safety of fighters is not just about head guards, correct weight-making and having medical support at ringside. I don’t want headshots banned, bigger gloves used or any other rule changes. And I don’t think sanctioning bodies have anything to do with medical provision. Which is just as well. Medical provision is overall pretty good, particularly in the UK thanks to the British Boxing Board of Control, and yes Frank Warren. The promoters and the board do a good job on the night.
It is a dangerous sport. But fighters are not footballers and there is a limit to how many fights they have in them and very often to what level a fighter can ascend. Getting these judgements wrong is a dangerous as poor medical provision – which we don’t see anymore – not in the UK anyway. Managing them correctly should be done independently of the demands of TV shows.
TM: It seems strange to mention anything off the back of that, but let’s talk Prograis vs Taylor, this is a fight of the year contender – how do you see this one panning out?
DJ: If it is the fight of the year – and remember it’s two southpaws – it will be because Taylor makes it that way, in my view. Both have been very impressive – Taylor beating Viktor Postal and Prograis Terry Flanagan – but Taylor has appeared the more irresistible force. Both are unbeaten and both have similar KO ratios but Taylor seems to have a plan A,B C and D.
He seems capable of finding a way and is quick to adapt to whatever is in front of him. He seems to me to be the more special of two special fighters. I hesitate to say fight of the year because so often that can be the kiss of death. It should be though, with Taylor outworking Prograis whichever way he has to in order to get the win.
TM: And Chisora vs Price, the fight you want to see but kind of don’t, if like us, you’re fans of them both? It looks like a tight one, despite what the bookies are saying?
DJ: Exactly. I’m not sure I do want to see this fight. Dell Boy is no Dave Allen. He is a much higher level fighter and more durable. I see Price gassing and getting stopped in six. I don’t want to see the big man reduced to that again after returning to form against Allen and winning his two previous bouts and performing well in losing to Povetkin. But I fear we will. And let’s not forget Dell is an angry man at the moment.
TM: Have you any idea who’s going to be in Dereck’s corner? He can’t go it alone surely?
DJ: He won’t. Even if David Haye has to step in. But I’m not too worried about the split with Dave Coldwell. It seems amicable and simply due to the distance between Rotherham and London. There is not much anyone is going to be able to teach Dell Boy these days anyway. He looks and sounds ready to fight.
TM: What are your thoughts on three of Britain’s finest Josh Warrington, Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith? These three guys need a big name fight? Will we see one?
DJ: Warrington is obviously horrible to fight and I think I’m in a minority of one when I say the stoppage win over Tackoucht was premature. He was in disarray but I don’t think he was hurt. That victory flattered Warrington but its a different story against Valdez, Russell Jr and Santa Cruz. I’m not Warrington’s biggest fan. I just don’t like his style. I suspect the premier fighters in the division don’t either.
It’s up to Frank Warren to put the money on the table. But I think the Leeds man loses against the elite. Billy Joe, on the other hand, beats anyone they put in front of him. But his career has been too stop-start. He is in the “Who Needs Him” club alright and that hasn’t helped. He is a master boxer and he can dig – ask Andy Lee. But he doesn’t hold a belt so he needs to get busy again. The jury is still out on Smith for me. I haven’t seen anyone get to him yet. That’s when we’ll know.
John Ryder should give him a good test. The Gorilla is on a great run of form and deserves his shot. But Smith only deserves a big name if he can get past Ryder. I’d like to see him in with Saunders. I have a feeling that is where we are going.
TM: Give us your early thoughts on Joshua v Ruiz II. A smashing looking fight, surely Joshua is going to be too well-prepped this time out. Mind you Ruiz has got some of the quickest hands we’ve ever seen on a heavyweight.
DJ: My feelings are not good. I think Joshua should have rebuilt first. I hope I’m wrong. I really do. I like Joshua but he looks like a man in denial to me. Or maybe the promotors are in denial. Good boxing senses say rebuild your confidence and work your way back. But the money tied up in AJ is too big maybe to take that route? In any event, he was knocked down four times in the first fight and basically he quit on his feet. That is how it looked to many.
Of course, he will keep it at range for longer, try and wear down Ruiz more before pouncing but he went down four times and I think that will haunt him. That as well as the hand speed of Ruiz and his boxing nouse. I don’t think the omens are good.
TM: Is Fury Wilder II going to happen? Obviously there’s the rather cumbersome obstacle that is Luis Ortiz, but, are they waiting on the result of the Joshua rematch, with a view to making a Ruiz Wilder matchup?
DJ: Not if Ortiz does what he nearly did, should have done, the first time around. Who knows what is going on with the heavyweights. It’s a mess. Joshua has unravelled, Fury is fighting second-raters and Wilder is clearly vulnerable. The fight people most want to see, in my view, is the Wilder vs Fury rematch.
There are too many questions hanging over Joshua at the moment. If Wilder beats Ortiz he should fight Fury again. That should be the order of business.
TM: There’s lots of talk still of making the super fights between Fury and Joshua, Wilder etc, but realistically those fights are unlikely. In terms of cross-promotional issues and tv networks etc, It’s hard to see how an agreement could ever be made for Joshua Fury, belts or no belts, that would be a massive sporting event in the UK?
DJ: The only way the TV and promotional conflicts are circumvented is when you don’t have to circumvent them. In other words, when they are the last two men standing and the executives cannot sell anything else they will put their two cash cows in together because there is no other way to make money. So it can happen if Fury and AJ beat everyone else first. And Fury would win hands down – wouldn’t he?
TM: What about Usyk, he’s a great character and good addition to the heavyweight division?
DJ: Yes. I like him a lot. Super skilful and a bit crazy. But can he do a Holyfield? Only time will tell. Heavyweights have got a fair bit bigger. But why not. He can definitely fight.
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, David became The Scotsman’s boxing writer (as well as news editor). He now contributes to Boxing Monthly, doing features.
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