Boxing of late has become trapped in some type of fistic Groundhog Day, or in the wandering, forgetful mind of a confused grandparent.
Time-and-time again, social media profiles and boxing outlets are flooded with stories, resulting in tags, notifications and interactions that seem all-too familiar.
This week, Demetrius Andrade called out Gennadiy Golovkin and a former Anthony Joshua opponent again claimed they had “unfinished business” despite being soundly beaten years prior. So, where is the fresh news in our sport? Why are fighters or promoters rehashing the same tired narratives?
Surely, you’d assume, it’s in the hope of wet ink decorating the bottom line of a prospective contract through a constant barrage of tweets – instead of meets. Or maybe it’s just to fan a dying flame, gently blowing a candle expecting light instead of a crisp, dried, once-glowing wick. Some fighters beat the same drum like a heavy bag but never quite cement that “big fight,” and Rhode Island’s unbeaten, frustratingly talented Andrade is one of them. Google it, if you can be bothered. Andrade has called out Kazakhstan’s Golovkin in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and, as mentioned, 2021. Yet nothing. So, what is next?
The heavyweight landscape is perhaps most guilty of churning out the same rhetoric: Tyson Fury versus Joshua, Dillian Whyte will step in with [fill in your heavyweight champion of choice] at late notice, Whyte is being unfairly denied a shot at the title, Deontay Wilder is being avoided by [any of the other men]. And on and on we’ve been going for the last five years.
Every few months, something pops up, to shuffle the embers of fights and fighters that are actually drifting further apart. Promoters aren’t always to blame though, yet they do cop most of the heat from fans who love following a troubled fairy-tale. It isn’t in the interest of the promoter to spout nonsense deliberately or repeat themselves – it only serves to irritate those who line their pockets. They’re not trying to aggravate an already-tender bunch of folks that handily part with their hard-earned cash in hopes of seeing the ‘best fight the best,’ before being left with bouts often graded B-.
Promoters repeat themselves because they know it retains an interest in a fight they genuinely want to make. But this is boxing – that’s not how things work around here. They leave themselves hanging out to dry and are guilty of telling the same story, wearing a different shirt, a few months since we last heard it.
How many times has perennial contender Chris Eubank Jr clamoured for a money-spinning showdown with the middleweight (and super-middleweight) division’s greats? Too many. And with no agreed fight. I’m sure Eubank would fight them all – because he’s a tough, talented fighting man – and because he’s mentioned it on various occasions spanning multiple years on every website or YouTube channel polluting boxing’s landscape. He is doing what he needs to and, as such, avoids slipping into boxing’s perilous black hole.
The issue with boxing and with fighters droning on and on is that, sadly, even if we are universally in agreement about a prospective clash, those fights they’re talking about just don’t happen. Errol Spence and Terence Crawford are no closer to fighting now than they were when they met backstage in 2018. That isn’t their fault – is it? What other option does somebody like Demetrius Andrade have if his technical ability, bravery, and championship credentials still leave him gathering dust on the sport’s middle shelf?
So, they talk. They lack invention or the creativity to vary their content because, well, they are already exceptional at something most of us aren’t brave enough to try. It becomes repetitive and it can be boring, but it is a result of the sport’s general failings.
Andrade will continue calling out Golovkin; Fury will continue calling Joshua a ‘dosser’ while the pair sling mud at one another; Charles Martin, Carlos Takam and a host of other fallen men will pop up again next year claiming a second fight with the Londoner would be a “different story.” Until those soundbites are exposed as fiction – through fighting and fighting only – they are the cards at the fighters’ disposal. Anytime, anywhere in the world, they can throw out some tweets or Zoom call one journalist or another.
And in a world where fast, frequent content is king, headlines sell – even if they are regurgitated and only mildly modified. It is the same old story; it is frustrating for fans and followers of the sport; mostly though, it is not the fault of the protagonists. Through chanting the names of those fighters, they believe are avoiding them, they are eking ever closer to the pot of the gold at the end of a particularly dangerous rainbow. The rest is quite frankly out of their hands.