The fans want to see a heavyweight showdown between massive punchers Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, but they might need some assistance from the sanctioning bodies for that potential mega fight to take place.
Sanctioning bodies have become a necessary evil in boxing, albeit some of their decision making can drive one insane. Case in point is Terence Crawford, who knocked out Julius Indongo in the third round in August to become the first-ever undisputed super-lightweight world champion and the first in any weight class since 2005.
Crawford vacated the IBF version of his 140-pound world title just 11 days after his landmark victory because a purse bid was looming for a mandatory defense against Sergey Lipinets, who now holds the IBF belt following his unanimous decision victory over Akihiro Kondo on Nov. 4.
Lipinets-Kondo was a fun fight, but both fighters exemplified that they were not championship caliber, and added more fuel to the argument that belts in the modern era of boxing have become a joke, as the sanctioning bodies continue to try and find ways to splinter the titles.
Another example is Deontay Wilder, who absolutely destroyed Bermane Stiverne in a WBC mandated rematch, also on Nov. 4, before a crowd of 10,924 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Stiverne hadn’t fought in nearly two years, but was given a title shot anyway, and was blown out in the first round.
Despite the terrible decisions sanctioning bodies have made, they can do a lot of good – especially for Wilder. There is no reason why the 32-year-old Wilder (39-0, 38 KO’s), a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, should have any issues filling up arenas. Meanwhile, Joshua (20-0, 20 KO’s), 28, a 2012 London Olympic gold medalist, is selling between 70,000-90,000 tickets.
On the one hand, Joshua has a signature victory over future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in a bout that is a leading candidate for 2017 Fight of the Year. On the other, Wilder doesn’t have that victory and hasn’t had the opportunity to step up in competition. Although he had a chance to fight Alexander Povetkin in 2016, the Russian was the first of three potential Wilder opponents who failed drug tests.
Mandatory title shots were created because without a sanctioning body mandating certain fighters get title shots, rising stars would essentially be robbed of an opportunity to fight the world champion. This is where the IBF or the WBA can step in and make this fight because Wilder is a very dangerous opponent with little economic clout.
Without sanctioning bodies, who knows if we would have ever been able to witness the great Winky Wright, who was the epitome of a slick southpaw with great defense, and was one of the reasons why sanctioning bodies were established in the first place.
Mayweather-Pacquiao and Canelo-Golovkin took a while to materialize because the promoters were siphoning off as much money as they pleased. However, there came the point when the pay-per-view numbers for Mayweather and Canelo began to decline.
For example, both clashes between Mayweather and Marcos Maidana received less than one million buys, despite the fact that Mayweather was averaging approximately 1.45 million buys per fight from 2010-2013.
The Canelo vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bout in May generated one million buys. That bout, though, was built as a top Mexican rivalry, and Golden Boy was successful in using that as a selling point. However, a sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan and a ninth-round knockout of Liam Smith only produced a combined 900,000 buys – a sign that a lot of fans were not interested in seeing the fight.
The fans wanted Golovkin, and they were rewarded in May. Ultimately, the bout turned up 1.3 million buys.
Joshua has a huge following. His last fight in Cardiff, Wales, on Oct. 28, a 10th-round TKO of Carlos Takam, was in front of nearly 80,000 fans. He is unlikely to face the problems that Mayweather and Canelo had to deal with before their respective mega bouts.
That means two things have to happen. Either the sanctioning body has to step in and make the fight, or the promoters will sort out their egos and get it done. Eventually, the match will take place, and Wilder will finally get his chance to show the world what he is made of, but when is the question.