Anthony Joshua’s Win: A Mirage In The Devalued Heavyweight Desert?

Anthony Joshua’s Win: A Mirage In The Devalued Heavyweight Desert?

Thomas Hauser downplayed Anthony Joshua’s so-called big win from last Saturday night against Otto Wallin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, saying he’d beaten a “very ordinary opponent.”

Hauser notes that Wallin (26-2, 14 KOs) couldn’t punch, and he wasn’t a good boxer either. It was the perfect opponent for Joshua to shine and like what he once was.

Is the “old AJ” back?

He asks what happens if Joshua is put in with someone who can punch back and hurt him. He could have problems. However, AJ’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has been matching him against non-punchers since his second match against Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, and he’s making sure that he’s put in against opposition that is outgunned power-wise.

Hearn has been telling the media, “he’s back” and that “old AJ” is back, and fans have been buying into it, believing that the 34-year-old has returned to his ancient form from 3000+ yesterdays ago, but that’s clearly not the reality.

Joshua is older, slower, and only confident when fighting weak opposition, like Wallin. It’s all smoke and mirrors now being done by Hearn, acting like a used car salesman, putting on a new coat of paint, rolling the odometer back, polishing the wheels, and telling the public that Joshua is like new again.

Wallin’s lack of bite

“I thought Anthony Joshua looked good against a very ordinary opponent. Otto Wallin is best remembered for cutting Tyson Fury very, very badly [in 2019]. He won only three rounds in that fight. Most of the cards were 117-111,” said Thomas Hauser to Secondsout, discussing Anthony Joshua’s win over Otto Wallin.

“When it went to the scorecards, he won by a wide margin, and deservedly so. Anthony Joshua did what he was supposed to do against an ordinary heavyweight in the same way he did against Robert Helenius.”

Wallin had no power and was NOT a genuine threat to Joshua, and he was never intended to be a worthy opponent. The 33-year-old Swede was carefully chosen for Joshua in a showcase fight, similar to his previous two opponents, Robert Helenius and Jermaine Franklin.

“This is a very devalued heavyweight division. He’s already lost to Usyk twice,” said Hauser.” “Wilder, as we know, was beaten by Fury twice. It’s not a good point for the heavyweight division. Boxing is shooting itself in the foot again.”

Tyson Fury was never as good as some people thought he was, and most of the fame that he got in his career was from beating 40-year-old Wladimir Klitschko at the end of his career, and Wilder, who was just a puncher with no boxing skills or athleticism.

The heavyweight division is a weak stage, which is why a flawed fighter like Joshua is still around. There are several good fighters in the division, but Joshua and Fury aren’t fighting them for obvious reasons.

“By the time Mayweather-Pacquiao came around, it was past its sell-by date. It was a dreadful fight,” said Hauser. “Pacquiao was far from his best. It was a terrible disappointment. At any given time, you could have made Joshua-Fury. It would have been an incredibly big fight. You could have made Joshua-Wilder. It would have been a huge fight.

“Those fights never get made. Now, if Fury beats Usyk and Joshua beats Hrgovic and gets himself an IBF belt, would Fury-Joshua be a big fight? Sure. But that’s down the road. Who knows what happens between now and then?” said Hauser.

Joshua vs. Fury would be big in the UK, but it won’t sell outside of there. Those guys aren’t marketed heavily to U.S. fans boxing fans, and they know both of them are old and being kept at the top with the way they’re being matched. Fury hasn’t fought a good opponent since his win over a washed Wladimir.

Tyson Fury’s last six opponents:

  • Francis Ngannou
  • Dereck Chisora
  • Dillian Whyte
  • Deontay Wilder
  • Otto Wallin
  • Tom Schwarz

“Anthony Joshua has generational wealth. I don’t want to see Joshua end up like Muhammad Ali. I don’t think he proved much against Otto Wallin.” said Hauser.

Trainer Carousel

“You have to remember the opponent, and AJ keeps changing trainers,” said Hauser when asked if Joshua showed against Wallin that the ‘Old AJ’ is back. “He went from Rob McCracken to Robert [Garcia] to Derrick James, and now he has another trainer [Ben Davison]. What is that, four trainers in five fights?”

Joshua has obviously been wracked by self-doubt since his loss to Andy Ruiz in June 2019, and he seems to think that by rifling through trainers, he’ll eventually find someone who can fix him and allow him to destroy his opposition like he’d done earlier in his career.

That can’t happen because Joshua was fighting exclusively weak opposition, apart from his fight with a washed Wladimir. He would have lost the Wladimir fight if the Ukrainian fighter had listened to his corner and gone for the kill after dropping him.

“He says he’s looking for greatness, but changing trainer after trainer after trainer, you come to the feeling after a while that the problem isn’t the trainer,” said Hauser. “The problem is the fighter.

“What happens when someone isn’t a punching back who can hurt him? We know that Wallin is not a puncher, and he’s not much of a boxer either. Usyk outboxed him [Joshua], and there are other people out there who can hurt him. I wish AJ well,” said Hauser.

When Joshua fights someone with power and hunger, he’ll likely lose again. The fighters that would beat Joshua now, guys like Zhilei Zhang, Martin Bakole, Jared Anderson, and Frank Sanchez, he’s not fighting.

Hrgovic hype

“There will be loads of hype for it. We know there was more about Joshua-Wilder than the guys they were fighting in Saudi Arabia,” Hauser said. “Now, all of a sudden, it’s turned to, ‘The fight that really matters is Joshua-Hrgovic for the IBF title.’ That assumes the winner of Fury-Usyk will be stripped.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an effort made to have Joshua against Francis Ngannou, which I think AJ would look good in,” said Hauser.

There’s a lot of talk on social media that Hearn will match Joshua up next against Francis Ngannou because that’s a winnable fight for AJ, and it would attract MMA fans to watch in large numbers. If Hearn puts Joshua in with Hrgovic, he might lose because that guy can punch.

“I think Hrgovic is a mediocre fighter. He’s a professional fighter, he’s undefeated, and he deserves respect for that, but in terms of being an elite heavyweight, come on,” said Hauser. “Is Hrgovic a big, strong guy? Yeah, but I think he’s actually made for Anthony Joshua.

“There’s nothing that I’ve seen that Hrgovic does that Anthony Joshua doesn’t do better. There aren’t a lot of good heavyweights out there today. It’s a sad fact,” said Hauser.

Fighting Hrgovic might be a mistake by Joshua because this is a dangerous guy with a similar size as AJ, and he’s deadly with his rabbit-punching ability.

Hearn might be blinded by the fact that he wants this fight because he promotes both guys, but if he thought clearly about the worst case scenario for AJ, he wouldn’t do it.

Devalued heavyweight division

“For a while, I ceded Fury the #1 because I thought he looked very good against Deontay Wilder,” said Hauser. “I thought Wilder was what he appeared to be. A devasting puncher with limited skills and Deontay could take a good beating.

“He wasn’t a good boxer, but he could punch, and when he got hit, he could take the punches. It took a lot to bring him down, and I gave Fury a huge amount of credit for his two victories over Wilder, and then his knockout of Dillian Whyte.

“But after seeing Wilder in his most recent fight [against Joseph Parker], and also Fury against Ngannou, you have to ask, ‘What does Fury bring to the table?’ What’s going to happen is whoever wins Fury-Usyk is going to fight a rematch, and that person is going to be stripped [of the IBF title],” said Hauser.

Obviously, Fury was NEVER as good as casual fans or ones without critical thinking ability realize. If you just looked at Fury’s game, his weak chin, and analyzed his past fights, you’d know that he was just an average fighter, who only won because of his lackluster opposition and using his size to lean on his opponents.

Fury was dropped by cruiserweight Steve Cunningham, clearly beaten by John McDermott in their first fight, knocked out by Wilder in their first fight, and dropped twice in the third fight in what many felt was the long count win, rivaling the Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney fight.

“Nothing is permanently closed in boxing, particularly when the Saudis are pouring crazy amounts of money into boxing,” said Hauser when asked if the Joshua vs. Wilder fight is now permanently off the table following Deontay’s loss to Parker last weekend.

If the Saudis still want to do Joshua vs. Wilder, they can definitely make it happen. Hearn & Joshua aren’t going to refuse them if they still want to do the Wilder fight, and the public doesn’t want to see AJ fight Hrgovic. He doesn’t exist among casual boxing fans, and he’s not popular with hardcore fans.

“The Saudis, who I’m assuming lost tens of millions of dollars on this card [‘Day of Reckoning’], but they get the benefits from it in the form of sports washing [definition: ‘When a government uses sports to improve their reputation after wrongdoing.’],’ which is what they’re spending the money on,” said Hauser.

“If they [Saudis] put enough money on the table, they could get anything they want. The question is, how much money are they willing to put up? If the Saudis took these four guys and said, ‘We’ll give you each $100 million to fight in this tournament, I’m sure they’d get these fights,” said Hauser.

“Assuming Joshua beats Hrgogic and assuming Fury beats Usyk, and if the Fury-Usyk rematch doesn’t get in the way, I think Fury-Joshua is a huge fight from a fan perspective, from a small number of fans that are still there.”

Joshua vs. Fury is huge with British fans. It’s for UK consumption only. It’s like the Chris Eubank Jr. vs. Conor Benn fight. British fans love the idea of seeing those two fight, whereas Americans view them as domestic-level fighters.

We haven’t seen Joshua or Fury beat anyone good during their careers other than an old Wladimir.

“If the Saudis have their way, and they’re the ones that put enough money on the table, Fury-Joshua will go to Saudi Arabia. Fury’s loyal fans in England, and Joshua’s loyal fans in England, virtually none of them will have the money to go to Saudi Arabia to stay there to see the fight,” said Hauser.

What the Saudis should do is have the loser of the Fury vs. Usyk fight step aside so that the winner can face Joshua next. Who cares if the IBF belt is vacated? The fans don’t. If Fury wins the fight with Usyk, the Joshua match needs to happen.

“Again, it’s the fans that are being pushed out in the name of sport washing. In the UK, the biggest fights are being taken away from them,” said Hauser.

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