So 2019, the year that promised so much looks like it’s finally about to get going with some boxing worth staying up for.
Two former British World Champions face uphill struggles against imperious opponents with Crolla vs Lomachenko taking place in Los Angeles in the early hours of tomorrow morning and Crawford vs Khan happening next Saturday.
We got in touch with our resident boxing expert David Jarvis to give us the lowdown on these mouthwatering showdowns and the politics of the Heavyweight division.
The MALESTROM: So with the greatest of respect how little chance do you give Crolla against Lomachenko?
David Jarvis: Like the man said:
“He has got two chances – none and slim – and Slim just left town.”
Crolla has to be British boxing’s greatest overachiever but I have a feeling this is where he really does find himself in very, very deep water. That was clearly the case in the second Linares fight and this is another level again.
TM: He’s a proper fighting man though; we won’t see him quitting on his stool will we?
DJ: No way will he do that. He will be very mindful of his legacy but that said the Lomachenko vs Crolla fight has a feel of how well he can lose. I can see him being stopped.
TM: Is there a chance if he tries to put on too much of a show, switching stances etc, Crolla could just land one on the button?
DJ: There is always a chance in boxing but I don’t see it. This is a guy who is pretty good at playing chess against a 3D chess Grand Master Flash. And Crolla is no puncher even if he can get that shot on.
TM: You’re well acquainted with the nuances of the sport, just how good is Lomachenko and how good might he become? It must be so frustrating for fighters trying to work out what he’s going to do next?
DJ: Most fighters have a bad enough time trying to figure out what just happened to them without ever getting to what happens next! He is better than anyone I’ve ever seen – and I never thought I would see anyone better than Floyd Mayweather the night he dismantled Ricky Hatton.
Loma has speed, footwork, timing… and creativity… tons of boxing originality. Okay, he lacks massive punching power and isn’t going to go up through the weights and I’ve seen fighters more pleasing on the eye. But everything he does is fast, fluid, hurtful and superbly balanced.
He should stay at lightweight – he seems too small to move up – and that may affect the perception of him in an era of two and three weight champions. I can’t see him getting any better because he already is the best there is.
TM: It leads us nicely on to next weeks showdown between Crawford and Khan. Probably the second best pound for pounder on the planet fighting another one of our men. Just looking on Paddy Power a double on Crolla and Khan to win is 233/1 – that’s bonkers for two former world champions?
DJ: I’m not so sure they are crazy odds – I wouldn’t put money on at 500/1. I worry for Khan in this fight. He has size and speed on his side, certainly, but let’s face it, he has seen better days and Crawford is at his peak and can hit. And we all know what happens when Khan gets hit clean.
There is no doubting his heart but cautious Crawford will wait for him to slow down around rounds four or five and then start getting to him I fear.
TM: Did you see the Fitzgerald v Fowler fight? That was a fantastic spectacle…
DJ: Loved it. It really exposed Fowler’s limitations in my view. He was ready to go a couple of times and Fitzgerald was superb. He really wanted it – a cliche I know – but when a fighter gets in that mindset he can be hard to budge. Let’s hope Crolla and Khan can find a bit of that mental steel.
TM: Can you give us a bit of a lowdown on the politics of boxing, making fights etc? It’s always been this way, but it feels particularly in the Heavyweight division like the big fights might never happen?
DJ: For me, it is the politics of TV and streaming giant DAZN. Eddie Hearn has a $1billion deal to put on something like 32 US and UK shows and has been signing fighters up for fun to fill his fight cards. Then there is Sky and BT Sport, Showtime, ESPN and Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions and the debate about what may or may not be a pay-per-view fight.
Let’s face it – boxing politics – or politricks as Don King famously coined it – is just another way of saying: “Money shall be thy God.” It is the unofficial but universal first rule of boxing and so ingrained it might as well be cast in stone. If it makes money it makes sense and fights happen when they make money – or more specifically when they make the most money.
Joshua needs to be seen in America to make more money. Bottom line. Wilder, Fury and Whyte all get bigger the bigger AJ becomes and they are all much more dangerous fights than Miller so why risk killing the Golden Goose prematurely?
TM: Where on earth does Dillian Whyte go? It looks he might end up fighting Joshua after all, once he’s dealt with the albeit dangerous Miller?
Is Miller dangerous? He doesn’t look like a massive puncher and he won’t walk through AJ the way he has other heavyweights. It looks set up for AJ v Whyte rematch to me – and about time.
TM: What about Fury, this Schwarz fight is a joke really. Is it in the hope that he can put on a spectacle and increase the appetite of the American fans?
DJ: Exactly. The same thing as AJ v Miller – The Gypsy King has signed an £80million five-fight deal with ESPN and Top Rank which means he needs to keep winning. It is warm up for the Wilder rematch and then everyone makes even more money. Good business but bad fight.
TM: You’ve called Breazeale a punchbag in the past? Take it you don’t give much hope against Wilder?
DJ: None at all. Wilder is too fast. What was it the old boxing scribe said about Joe Bugner –
“He looks like a Greek Statue, only with less moves.”
Unfair to Bugner, a great fighter at his peak, but apt for Breazeale who has less chance than the Greek.
TM: Another man who’d be talked about as a pound for pound contender is Usyk, that fight with Takam looks like the best of the lot really? It’ll be fascinating to see him bulked up a bit?
DJ: Yes agreed. It will be fascinating to see what happens here because of the jump in weight but Usyk looks like he can handle it. Takam is predictable but tough so who knows? The bet is for Usyk to be too cute though.
Lomachenko vs Crolla will be screened live tonight on Sky Box Office.
Who do you see winning between Lomachenko vs Crolla and Crawford vs Khan? Let us know in the comments.
Click the banner to share on Facebook
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.