Written By Bakari Simpson: In Boston, by trail of fire, Kyrie Irving is learning firsthand what it means to be chief of the tribe. In the UK, Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KO’s) is leaning how to navigate the heavyweight division as a champion with a bullseye on his back. Especially now that the heavyweight division is intensifying at the rate that it is. Having assumed these roles they are beginning to feel all the assorted pressures that come with them.
Currently scheduled to fight Carlos Takam (35-3-1, 27 KO’s), the WBO, IBF and IBA champion finds himself dead center of the big men discussion. Popular belief foresees Anthony Joshua maintaining his undefeated record. If that proves to be true, the big question is who does Joshua plan to fight next? Here is where the ride gets slippery.
The most obvious selection would be the boisterous, hard-hitting and undefeated American WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KO’s). For his part Wilder has been outrageously vocal about wanting the Joshua bout. AJ and crew posture as if they want the match, however they’re consistently wishy-washy replies in the media suggest otherwise.
When initially queried about when the jovial UK giant would battle Deontay, his answer astonished. Not in a good way. AJ surmised he might not get in the ring with Wilder until 2019 or 2020. Even at a rate of 2 or 3 fights a year that pushes their showdown 4 to 6 scraps down the road. The blowback from these comments must not have been flattering. Consequently, similar to Erving backtracking on his belief that the Earth was flat, Joshua did his own bit of moonwalking.
In the following notable release to the press Anthony changed his tune and assured a Wilder match in 2018. However, it didn’t take long for those firm, strong words to turn flabby and sick like a Tupac verse.
In a recent interview, AJ was back to saying he “might” tangle with Wilder in 2018, maybe not. Maybe he would fight mandatories and maybe he needed Deontay to have a ‘remarkable’ fight first. No matter how you slice it doesn’t sound encouraging.
“I say it’s definitely a potential for 2018, what else am I going to do in 2018 provided that I don’t have any mandatories? We need Wilder to have a remarkable fight. I need that to be the one that steps up to make this dream a reality…There is no time scale, you just have to roll with the punches” -Anthony Joshua
Meanwhile, promoter Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua can wipe the floor with Wilder, on sight, right now within 3/4 rounds. The tough talk and simultaneous avoidance is very annoying.
To make matters substantially worse, AJ is doubling and tripling down on his desire to fight Tyson Fury. Fury has been out of the ring for two years, was busted for cocaine use and had ballooned to a comically, or tragic, obese weight. And what exactly is Fury’s trademark ‘remarkable’ fight? Anyway, Anthony Joshua says so long Fury has a pulse, can move around the ring and draw a crowd that’s who he wants. Knowing that Wilder is right there ready and waiting, screaming your name this is not a good look.
Listening to Joshua justify prioritizing a Fury fight while seemingly sidestepping a Wilder bout was silly to hear. It was almost as silly as realizing Kyrie actually thought his new court was literally the same floor used in the 70’s. Almost. It’s not easy being the chief or the champ, especially with all those mics in your face. But geez. One guy is entertaining rumbling with a 400 lbs. man. The other thinks he playing on the same court that Jackie Moon and the Tropics did.
What are you supposed to do with that?
Learning on the clock is no easy task, but time waits for no man. Both of these young athletes thought they knew what it was. Yet, their slowing grasping that dreaming of being the champ and chief is one thing. Actually being those things is something quite different. Let’s continue to watch their growth and DEFINITELY tune in for the next interview!
Bakari Simpson INSTAGRAM: @s.larry_love FACEBOOK: Bakari Simpson