The War Report: Touchdown (Week 17, 2017)
You’d have to go back a long time to find a heavyweight fight that is comparable to the one that transpired on Saturday night. How far back is subject to the depth of one’s memory bank and, to the opinion of their example. But no matter what, Anthony Joshua’s 11th round stoppage win over Wladimir Klitschko is probably the best heavyweight fight of this millennium.
It had everything: A raucous crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium cheering on its fellow Brit – unified titles on the line – fierce exchanges from the sport’s heaviest fighters – swings of momentum that featured both behemoths crashing to the canvas – the young prospect maturing before our very eyes, while the cured legend looked youthful in moments – two efforts that revealed each man’s character in his most dire moment – a definitive ending. Not only did it live up to the hype, this event shot through the moon.
Using that momentum, Joshua, 27, catapults himself into what looks to be certain stardom and his potential has the same limitations as space. In a sport driven by stars, boxing has had plenty in recent memory but none of which have been in its glamour division – in which the biggest men make the bigger impact both in and outside the ring. Boxing could never have too many transcendent stars and Joshua could be the next one, if he already isn’t. At least that’s the case already in the U.K. but America might be a little behind.
No thanks to its poor coverage of this event, the American mainstream media failed to provide the unknowing public about a great happening in boxing. Sure, there wasn’t an American involved in the fight but that really isn’t the case, when compared to other niche sports in the U.S. like tennis, golf and soccer – a synonym for the world’s biggest sport that takes a backseat to America’s pastime – football.
The NFL Draft did take place over the weekend and that might’ve distracted the mainstream TV sports media. Should that really be the case, it would be an ironic example of American boxing being purged by the NFL, as potential heavyweight athletes get drafted by teams. There was even a comparable crowd that showed up on Thursday night for the Draft’s first round and all they came to see where prospects in suits walk down some elaborate stage. Joshua, a heavyweight prospect in his own right, had a stage like no other to prove his worth in his first step-up fight and he went on to score a remarkable touchdown that can’t be compared to those future football players will one day achieve.
Maybe a touchdown on American soil will get Joshua the mass recognition stateside but those awaiting that arrival shouldn’t hold their collective breaths. Joshua doesn’t really need to get here, at the moment, but it sure is inevitable one day. Knowingly, Showtime signed Joshua to a multi-fight deal three outings ago but that is likely to expire once he makes his way across the Atlantic. HBO, who also broadcast Joshua-Klitschko on a tape-delay, on Saturday night, captured the star-making performance under its own lens and, once he becomes available for a new deal, the two networks are sure to be in a bidding war for boxing’s next big thing.
Please click here to continue reading The War Report: Touchdown (Week 17, 2017).