For Anthony Joshua, it’s another week, another opinion.
The intensity of speculation surrounding the proposed super fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder shows no signs of abating, capturing the imagination of everyone from the casual fans to world champions who made their mark atop the hardest game.
It’s the fight that nobody, it seems, can stop talking about.
The latest professional to have his say is affable New Yorker and recently retired Paul “Paulie" Malignaggi.
UK fans will already be familiar with the inimitable and rapid talking style of the former IBF and WBA welterweight champion, who has made a successful transition into boxing commentary and analysis for Sky Sports.
His professional record meanwhile, though, marred somewhat by eight professional losses (and true, the glaring omission of Floyd Mayweather) reads like a who’s who of welterweights in this generation.
Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter.
Malignaggi has been in the ring with some of the best, so his words carry quite a bit of credibility when he talks.. and Paulie likes to talk!
Always insightful and honest, Malignaggi has issued a stark warning for Joshua.
“Deontay has a great jab and great straight right hand.
"Straight punches are his best asset and Anthony Joshua does not move his head, so..you know, a guy who doesn’t move his head is susceptible to getting hit down the middle with straight shots. And those are Deontay’s best punches."
Anyone who saw Wilder walk through an albeit out of sorts and overweight Bermane Stiverne last Saturday will have seen exactly what Malignaggi is talking about.
With 45 seconds remaining in the first and only round, Wilder’s straight right dropped Stiverne and signalled the beginning of the end. Its power, even with Wilder slightly overreaching, was frightening.
At 6’7” and a reach of 83”, coming behind an accurate and sharp jab, it’s a formidable weapon for Wilder, one that will surely keep Joshua and his trainer, the brilliant Rob McCracken, occupied in preparation, if and when the fight is signed.
For further veracity in Malignaggi’s assessment, it was Wladimir Klitschko’s straight right hand, landing flush on a static Joshua, that put him down in the sixth round of their epic encounter at Wembley. Joshua has previous.
More worryingly, it’s been suggested by some that Klitschko let AJ off the hook somewhat; he was hurt and there for the taking. Whether too conservative or lacking the stamina or killer instinct in the twilight of his career, surely, he couldn’t anticipate the same mercy from Wilder if caught in a similar fashion.
But, Joshua, as we know, has more strengths than weaknesses, plenty to learn, but certainly more to come. Whether it’s fair or not to call Joshua’s fundamental skill into question, for the perceived lack of head movement, he has an arsenal of advantages that Wilder will of course need to be wary off too.
Malignaggi qualifies this by talking up those attributes, then correctly asserts in the video that one clean shot could end the fight for either fighter anyway.
With a staggering 58 KOs between them form 59 fights, both fighters displayed the sort of concussive and irresistible power that would surely settle the argument either way.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom further whited the appetite during a visit to New York last Thursday, claiming the "biggest fight in world boxing" will happen.
Said Hearn: "Joshua wants this fight bad, Wilder wants it bad as well." And It's going to happen in 2018, absolutely no question.”
There’ll be more speculation, analysis, and expert opinion before then and difficult obstacles in the negotiations, but we should see whether Paulie, and others who have queried Joshua’s basics and chin, have a point.
A point Wilder, who wasted no time in calling out the Brit after the short work he made of Stiverne, will be looking to prove.
But then, as Mike Tyson so eloquently put it: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
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