Marination. The ultimate in seasoning. It’s used to enhance the flavor of food, or even an event. Movie houses often marinate their latest production for a year before releasing it to the public.
You’ve see it countless times. It’s mid-November and you’re in a theatre, watching the “shorts” before the movie you have paid to see comes on. One of those “shorts” catches your interest. At the end you see on the screen, “COMING ON JULY 4.” July 4? That’s eight months away! You were just teased with a small taste of a movie you feel you will really enjoy. You’ll be seeing it in theatres, on billboards, in the subway, on TV and hearing it on radio for, not weeks—but months. It’s marinating. Getting juicer and tastier by the minute.
Boxing matches are often marinated. The tastiest marination is the mega-fight between two boxers who are looked at as being the best in the sport. Joe Frazier v Muhammad Ali in the March 8, 1971 “The Fight of the Century” may have been the tastiest marination ever presented.
It was two fine cuts of Grade A beef incredibly prepared, served to a worldwide audience starving for the event. The Frazier-Ali fight was as perfectly marinated as any sporting event in history.
Then there’s over-marination.
Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao was dreadfully over-marinated. It took years to prepare. When the fight was finally served to the public—May 2, 2015—it was over-cooked and basically tasteless. The event never lived up to the hype and the billing.
At this time last year, we were drooling about a Deontay Wilder-Anthony Joshua fight. When would it happen? Would it would happen? Wilder and Joshua fought in the media. They fought on social media. They seemed to get close a few times, but something always happened to derail their talks and negotiations. Believe whatever side you want as to why Wilder-Joshua never happened. From this corner, it was Wilder who wanted it. Joshua did not.
Both talked good fights.
“I’ve offered Wilder more money than he’s ever seen,” said Joshua, “but he doesn’t want the fight.”
“He wants the lion’s share of the money and he wants the fight in his backyard,” retaliated Wilder. “Maybe he’d like to put in his relatives as the referee and judges, too.”
For months they negotiated, but mainly name-called—on social media. Wilder stayed busy. So did Joshua. After Joshua’s seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin in September 2018, the negotiations to match Joshua against Wilder switched into full gear. Those negotiations fell apart when Wilder had the opportunity to face Tyson Fury on December 1, 2018. We all remember what happened there….Fury was knocked down twice, once in the 12th and final round, but otherwise, boxed phenomenally, keeping Wilder off-balance…The fight was ruled a draw. A rematch was discussed. Talk of Wilder-Joshua was put on the side.
While a Wilder-Fury rematch was being planned, Joshua signed to face Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
When Wilder couldn’t nail down a rematch against Fury, he instead signed to face Dominic Breazeale two weeks earlier at the Barclays Center.
A few weeks before the Joshua-Miller fight, Miller flunked a drug test. Then he flunked another one. Instead of cancelling the show, Matchroom Boxing reached out and got once-beaten contender Andy Ruiz to step in against Joshua.
Two weeks before Ruiz-Joshua, Wilder, looking as devastating as ever, stretched Breazeale with a single right cross. Then came one of the year’s top upsets. Andy Ruiz, looking like “Two-Ton” Tony Galento, a beer-guzzling contender from the 1930’s, flattened Anthony Joshua. Ruiz turned Joshua into a boxing yo-yo, sending him to the canvas four times, finally stopping him in the seventh round. Gone were any thoughts—and any hopes—of a major money match between Joshua and Wilder.
“I told you a long time ago I would have knocked him out,” Wilder said to this reporter. “I knew it ages ago. That’s why I wanted the fight so bad. I knew he couldn’t beat me. He knew it, too, and so did Eddie Hearn. Ruiz just got to him before I did!”
Then, Fury and his promoter, Frank Warren, signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank. As Wilder pushed for a rematch with Fury, Top Rank/Warren/Fury had other ideas. They fought Tom Schwarz. And Otto Wallin. Wallin cut up Fury’s right eye in two places which required plastic surgery and dozens of stitches. Fury’s boxing for 2019 was done. So, he did other things. He did some television commentary. He performed in the WWE.
Once again, with a major foe either unavailable or unwilling to fight, Wilder did what Wilder does best. He chose a formidable opponent. He chose Luis Ortiz, whom he had beaten in March 2018 in a wild, rock ‘em, sock ‘em type of fight. With Fury on the shelf and Joshua a few weeks away from his rematch against Andy Ruiz, it was only fitting that Wilder would select Ortiz, a man you see none of the top contenders running after.
Both Wilder and Ortiz look to be in the best shape each has ever been in. 2, just may pack as much excitement as their first fight did. Unfortunately, the fight may not have many eyeballs looking at it. That’s because it’s not on free TV. It’s on FOX PPV. It’s price tag: $75.99. That is a huge price to pay for this fight. Yes, it should be a good one. Yes, it should be exciting. But it’s not a fight the public demanded. It’s not Wilder-Joshua. It’s not Wilder-Fury. It’s not Wilder-Ruiz. It’s the rematch of their March ??, 2018 bout which was exciting, but ended without controversy. There was no outrageous decision. There was no quick stoppage. There was no public outcry for a rematch. Give Wilder credit for doing so against an opponent no contender has called out. But on PPV for $75.99? It’s an outstanding fight with an outstanding undercard. That won’t be enough to stop the torrent of red ink which will follow.
When the smoke clears, I have to figure Wilder will emerge victorious again. Then, in two weeks, it’s up to Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua to help clear up the muddled heavyweight division.
In 2020, it’ll be time to stop the heavyweight marination. The big fights have marinated long enough. Save the marination for my steaks, not for the fights we really want!
Recent wins: Rocky Fielding returned to action 11 months to the day after losing his WBA Super Middleweight Title to Canelo Alvarez with a second-round knockout of Abdullah Paziwapazi in Liverpool. Paziwapazi, of Tanzania,brought a record of 26-6-1 into the fight, along with 23 knockouts. He was riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak going into his bout against Fielding. The victory upped Fielding’s record to 28-2 (16)…On the same card, former middleweight contender Martin Murray, now fighting as a super middleweight, won an eight-round decision against Sladan Janjanin. Murray is now 39-5-1 (17) but battling Father Time. He is 37.
Worth watching: Heavyweight Junior Fa, a 6’5” 260-pounder from New Zealand, upped his record to 19-0 with a 10-round decision over Devin Vargas. It was Fa’s third win of 2019. Vargas dropped to 21-6…On the undercard, Welterweight Ivan Golub stopped Janer Gonzalez in the 10th and final round. For Golub, it was his third win of the year and his fifth in a row. He is now 17-1 and ready for a move up in competition. Both Fa and Golub are promoted by Lou DiBella.
Female superstar Claressa Shields and Ivana Habazin have been rescheduled for January 10 on Showtime. Their original bout was supposed to take place on October 5 in Flint, Michigan, but was called off a day earlier, when Habazin’s trainer, Bashir Ali, was sent to the hospital with severe facial injuries after being attacked at the official weigh-in by a member of Shields’ family, reports say. The fight—for the WBC & WBO 154 pound titles—will take place from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. Shields is 9-0 (2), while Habazin is 20-3 (7).
Shame on the British Boxing Board of Control. They are always professing to be such a tough regulatory body and always looking out for a fighter’s safety. Really? On a show last Friday in Norfolk, U.K., the BBBofC approved and sanctioned a six-fight card with nothing but mismatches. Here are the six fights: 4-0 v 1-23; 6-0 v 20-107-5; 5-0 v 4-12-3; 3-0 v 6-93-2; then two guys making their debuts. One was fed an opponent who was 5-37 and the loser of 18 straight; the other debuting fighter was given an opponent who was 7-106. On televised cards (such as DAZN and Sky Sports), the matches are more competitive. But on these type of cards, which far outnumber the major cards, getting these types of matchups are the rule, rather than the exception. The Christians stood a better chance against the lions in Ancient Rome than opponents do under the auspices of the BBBofC!
PUBLISHER NOTE: Order “Glove Affair,” by Randy Gordon and prepare to be well entertained.