Last night I watched the Anthony Joshua versus Alexander Povertkin world heavyweight championship clash at Wembley Stadium on pay-per-view for the princely sum of £20.95 via (I think it was) Sky Sports Box Office.
I had successfully done a fair number of domestic chores during the morning, was on the verge of making myself something for lunch before receiving a visit from my daughter who had been visiting a friend in the metropolis.
She wished to drop by in order to go and visit her mother’s grave whose anniversary of dying had just passed some twenty-six years on.
I was flicking through the newspapers at the time and (you know how it is) basking in the glow of having achieved a thing or two. Bored already at the prospect of spending yet another Saturday evening starring vacuously at saddo mainstream television offerings – the BBC staple Strictly Come Dancing was making its annual return to the nation’s screens – before retiring to bed at my habitual 8.00pm, I suddenly registered that the Joshua fight was happening.
In the weeks leading up to it I had zero intention of paying out for what I anticipated would be a routine demolition of the 39 year-old Russian drugs cheat. But on a whim yesterday I decided to spice up my day and at the very least to see what extortionate amount of money I might be charged for watching the fight live.
Initially, inevitably, not being a friend of technology in general, my biggest issue was going to be getting to where I needed to be in my cable TV’s supplier system. Previously, for about four months, whenever I went to the Catch-Up TV page, I had been receiving a pop-up “There’s a glitch with your internet connection – try again in another few minutes” boxed message.
There was nothing for it but to ring the organisation’s Customer Helpline.
Here began my first obstacle – the cable company’s automated ‘query response’ system which gave four options to begin and I just about managed to press ‘1’ thrice correctly in succession, when requested, in order to register that (1) I had a fault; (2) it was with my television system; and (3) that I was the account holder.
Next I was asked to tap into my phone three numbers or letters from my password randomly chosen by the automated female voice. First, off the top of my head (about to be 67 shortly) I hadn’t the slightest clue what my cable company password was. I therefore had to ring off, find my desk diary – no mean task in itself, I might point out – in which, towards the front, upon a ‘Notes’ page, I record all my bank account, email account and other details including (if known) various passwords, and then ring the cable company back, thereby having to go through the entire ‘introductory’ process again.
Next, there was going to be a problem with the password. I take TV, broadband and landline phone services from my cable company but – recorded in my diary – had only the password for the broadband service. Would it also apply to my TV service?
I was already beginning to fear that I wasn’t going to get my TV problem sorted in time to watch the fight.
Unless I could get to speak to somebody at the cable company and explain my problem soon – which might then take but a couple of minutes to resolve – I could foresee that it might be Joshua’s next fight in six months’ that which I’d be aiming to purchase upon pay-per-view.
I then had my flash of genius. I rang off again … went in through the Customer Helpline introductory system for the third time and, when it got to being asked for my TV password, pressed the tit on my phone denoting that I hadn’t got a clue what it was.
Bingo! The automatic lady said she’d pass me on to a Helpline real-life human being!
The foreign-sounding chap I spoke to quickly established that I was who I said I was. He allowed me to change my TV password to something that somehow I managed to remember long enough to later record in my diary.
Next to rectify the box to working order.
He requested me to re-boot my box by taking all the leads going into its back and then switch off the electricity supply at the wall. The first was simple, the second more difficult: my wall electrical switch is housed behind a shelving unit full of books which is physically impossible to move.
It took me twenty minutes with the guy hanging on the phone for me to achieve this. Eventually I did. Then I had to put the leads back in the rear of the box and switch the electricity supply on again at the wall. This, combined with putting the shelving unit back almost where it used to be, took the best part of another ten minutes.
Accordingly I advised the guy that I was going to ring off, go around the corner to my local electrical shop and ask a shop assistant to come round and try to do the business on my behalf.
Clearly the task of carrying out the operation with the help of someone on the end of my phone was beyond me.
Twenty minutes later the shop assistant came to my home. He quickly discovered the problem. In taking the leads out of my cable box and then switching off and restoring the power supply I had missed one vital move. That of switching on the box again – hence the reason that my box had been playing dead!
Happily, dear reader, another eight minutes later I had purchased the fight.
[Here I must advise that I do not propose to provide a blow-by-blow account of the main bout of the evening or even the devastating and ruthless manner in which Anthony Joshua put his opponent away. As per normal Rust advice, those interested will gain a far more accurate and insightful description of what happened at Wembley than I can supply from their chosen newspaper’s sports pages.]
Suffice it to say by way of analysis and comment, Anthony Joshua is a magnificent physical specimen but, now just 21 bouts into his professional career at the age of 28, he’s a manufactured ‘baby’ of a fighter who is learning his trade – swiftly, I might add, to be positive about it – bout by bout.
Comparing him to the true and natural greats of the Noble Art – for example Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Carlos Monzon, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler or John L. Gardner – who all possessed an unquentionable primeval instinctive desire to dominate and prevail in the ring, it was all they lived for – is almost unfair.
When he fought Sonny Liston to win the World Heavyweight Title on 25th February 1964 in his twentieth professional bout Muhammad Ali – still then, of course, Cassius Marcellus Clay, just turned 22 years of age – had won an Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal and outclassed the legendary but ageing Archie Moore and the dangerous Brit heavyweight champion Henry Cooper during a professional career in which he’d being in the ring every three or four months. And sometimes more often than that.
Anthony Joshua is deservedly the generally-accepted World Heavyweight Champion in the current era. His life story is a redemptive one and he’s now a national sporting hero, a credit to Britain, a worthy role model to youngsters and already a very wealthy gentleman indeed. His exploits have been the main cause of boxing’s long-overdue return to mainstream global public consciousness and a lot of people connected with the sport also making themselves a very healthy amount of cash.
But he’s no Muhammad Ali.