The Resurrection of ‘The Fight’


“Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.”

–John 9:14


This will pass over in time, but the real won’t rise until a myth stands in front of him on one bended knee. Buried in a grave not shallow with the shadow of greats looming just over it, boxing would become Lazarus; forcing the need to summon an old glory from days of lore. It knows it cannot rest on laurels forgotten; no one remembers yesterday today. But tomorrow never dies.

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Right around now would be the time for unbeaten and unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20KOs) to carry the mark of a beast into Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales tonight and use it on WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (24-0, 20KOs) in front of 78,000 fans, and those watching on SHOWTIME (2pm PT/ 5pm ET).

Having slain the ghost and the shell of Wladimir Klitschko, he can only escape that of the legendary Lennox Lewis by obliterating the myth of Deontay Wilder. If Joseph Parker, 26, is the iron-chinned upgrade to Carlos Takam challenging expectations more than defending a title, I’m expecting Joshua to show us the Frank Bruno/Mike Tyson hybrid I believe he is.

The mild-mannered New Zealander isn’t planning on coming in as Peter Parker. He sees a web of deception woven around the fabric of Joshua to be stripped away; if only he can turn into a black tarantula after putting the rosary beads of decency.

“Boxing is not just about knocking people out. It’s healthy living, discipline. You mix with different races, culture, religions,” waxed a philosophical Joshua, 28, after weighing a granite 21st and 4lbs. “Let’s say this religion doesn’t like that religion. In boxing, you shake hands and respect each other.”

As we approach the Sabbath, Joshua would be wise to open his eyes and become a savage. His Jesus is Eddie Hearn, who wants you to believe AJ can walk on water. Boxing doesn’t give a shit about religion; it has prayed for a saintly heavyweight savior and a rebellious destroyer. Joshua needs to smash gloves before the bell and disrespect Parker after it rings. Fans walk by sight, not by faith. They need a reason to believe it would take a miracle to defeat their idea of a savior.

People don’t think of their hero as David unless he seems like Goliath.

This is why octogenarians Bob Arum and Don King remain so vital to boxing and its consumption, for they are still spry enough to create a sweet science unity amid a generational trifecta of divide. King’s work was on display for Wilder V Stiverne II and Wilder V Ortiz. From the way “Bomb Squad!” was presented in villainous flashy style and substance, to the presence of Shelly Finkel, the idea has been to turn Wilder into a Tyson-like tyrant within the physical dimensions of a Lewis.

But Wilder is more Shaquille O’Neal than Lennox Lewis. More George Foreman (the one who sold those damn grills with a grin that wouldn’t go away) than Mike Tyson. When he told us that he wanted to “KILL Berman Stiverne”, or, “I want a body…I’m gone get a body”, it’s not quite the same thing as “I want to eat your children”. Like…we saw Mike Tyson bite someone’s fucking ear off. We didn’t really know if his actual children were safe around his ass.


By contrast, Deontay Wilder has a bond with his daughter that conjures group pictures at Disney. It’s been hard to mold an iconoclastic badass, even if he is damn near 40-0, (39 KOs). Maybe it’s just me, but all Wilder needs is Lou DiBella, who’s had plenty of time to observe the shadowy brilliance of Al Haymon. All Haymon did was allow the fighter to sell himself on a mass scale. This is different. DiBella is the X-factor voice needed for Wilder V Joshua to become a superfight. Just as King and Arum at each other’s throats transceneded many a rivalry, there needs to be a promotional equivalent in the sport’s most important division.

History is almost on par with the dollar, in that it still has a place of vitality with a prodigious push to endure, before it becomes the past entirely. Bob Arum sees a lot of himself in Eddie Hearn. Told me as much did Don Bob. A natural showman with a charming charisma, Hearn told us that Joshua is “a bad guy trying to be good”. But he needs to [not fight] like a good guy trying not to be bad.

We thought Tyson was the baddest man on the planet, because he made the hairs on the back of our neck stand up; forcefully demanding our belief while glued to seats of suspense. Joshua needs to show what Wilder already has: a sudden impact; a dramatic, killer instinct that posits myth. I imagine he will– even if he has to will himself to rise beyond the shadows and those throwing shade (Joshua KO 8). Boxing needs Anthony Joshua V Deontay Wilder.

Last guys don’t finish nice.

About John Gatling

John Gatling

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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