By Vladimir Lik
Fans of the Fight Game were very much okay with the upcoming Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward Light Heavyweight championship serving as the biggest fight of the year as 2016 goes into the twilight and we start looking into the bright lights of 2017 and all the great fantasy matchups which could be made.
Alas, 2016 is threatening to end on a higher up note, as a potential heavyweight showdown between former world champion and living legend Wladimir Klitschko and upstart British hero Anthony Joshua is taking shape for December 10 in the UK. The 10th of December is also the target date for a potential middleweight match up between K2’s Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs in New York City, though that date is no sure thing.
Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) was already slated to defend the IBF belt which once belonged to Klitschko at the Manchester Arena on November 26 against a challenger not yet named. It was also at the same arena that Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) was scheduled to avenge his loss to Tyson Fury on October 29 before Fury pulled out the rematch for unclear medical reasons. Days after the cancellation of the rematch reports came to light that Fury failed not one but two drug tests for using cocaine. This was the second cancellation of the rematch since Fury’s one sided win last November. The first date for the rematch was July 9 and that was cancelled it was stated due to an ankle injury Fury suffered in training. Now with Fury unable to defend his WBA and WBO titles on the make-up date the entire heavyweight landscape is thrown for a loop.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport told Boxingscene.com that most of the deal points have been completed for Joshua to defend the IBF belt against Klitschko and continues to work with K2 and Klitschko’s manager Bernard Bonte to overcome the remaining items to finalize the bout. While this bout will surely do huge numbers in the UK where Joshua is a superstar undoubtedly a major hurdle to be resolved is which network will have the pleasure of distributing the action to US boxing fans. Joshua recently signed a deal with Showtime and Klitschko has long ties to HBO.
The team handling Joshua’s meteoric rise had planned to bring him to US for a bout or two to drum up interest for a future unification bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who is recovering from a hand injury of his own. However, the prospects of sharing the ring with someone of Klitchko’s stature both literally and figuratively may prove to be something too large to pass up. Judging from how Klitschko looked in his loss to Fury, Joshua who has stopped every one of his pro opponents since capturing Gold while representing the hometown country at the London Olympics in 2012, has to figure the time to get at Wlad is now.
For Klitschko the end is coming near but after holding the IBF, WBA and WBO belts longer than any other heavyweight in history he would not accept his lackluster performance against Fury as his swan song. Klitschko has never ducked a challenge and after being in training camp for much of 2016 awaiting his chance at revenge against Fury who may never fight again the opportunity to face Joshua, this is too big a deal to pass up. The question will then remain what happens to stablemate Golovkin who has December 10 circled on his calendar as well. Since Golovkin and Klitschko’s promoter Tom Loeffler have been unable to get Golovkin’s bout with Jacobs locked down due to Jacob’s demands for more money, seemingly, it looks as if that bout may go to a purse bid if it happens at all. Reports surfaced last week that Jacobs requested that each take an interim bout before they meet in 2017 to which Loeffler quickly said no, having been there and done that with Canelo. Thus, if we do get the Klitschko-Joshua showdown to end the year it will force Golovkin to find another date and dance partner, one would think.
Both are very familiar feelings for Golovkin.
NYF fans, talk to us. Does Joshua handle Wlad if this bout comes off?