Just before lunchtime yesterday I decided to purchase my cable company’s pay-per-view offering of live coverage of the super-fight boxing bill featuring as its main event the world heavyweight championship bout between Britain’s supposed novice but greatly-hyped 27 year old Anthony Joshua and his challenger – Ukraine’s 41 year old and already heavily-decorated and long-reigning Wladimir Klitschko, who was determined to gain the title (or was it just a version of it?) for the third time in front of 90,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, a post WW2 British record crowd for a boxing promotion.
As it transpired – happily something of a departure from my traditional experience of making such investments – the proceedings that followed proved an enjoyable and rewarding success for this viewer.
I actually tuned in at about 8.00pm, after my evening meal, and first watched worthwhile and winning bouts featuring Brits Luke Campbell and Scott Quigg.
Between fights – and before Klitchsko and Joshua made their walks to the ring – the production team provided preview analysis by the likes of Johnny Nelson, Carl Frotch, Tony Bellew and Deontay Wilder (holder of a different version of the world heavyweight title) together with insightful trailer segments about both the main event boxers.
Time passed but rarely dragged. The sheer scale of Wembley Stadium and the spectacular ‘on site’ production provided impressive back-drops to the build-up. The sense of ‘occasion’ was as upmarket and grandiose as any I have witnessed at a boxing promotion anywhere in the world. We were told that the evening was being broadcast to no fewer than 142 countries [against what I believe to be a global total of UN-registered ones of less than 200].
Rust readers can read their preferred top-rank professional journalists’ reports of the course of the fight – styled in advance as ‘youth and power’ versus ‘great (but fading) ring craft experience’, with a mean prediction I’d summarise as ‘Joshua blows him way in four or five rounds, or else Kitchsko bamboozles his way to an epic victory on points’ – in their daily newspaper of choice.
All I would add here is that, whilst quality-wise the skills displayed were perhaps not of the highest, the unfolding of the bout was suitably intense in the build-up and, from perhaps its only-to-be-expected tentative and slow beginnings, evolved into a compelling see-saw contest which was more than value for my money (approximately £20).
Hats off to the combatants – at times in rounds five and six in turn both were seemingly just one more connecting haymaker from oblivion and defeat – and the ending, coming in the penultimate round, just as the one in front on the judges’ scorecards seemed to be cruising to a well-deserved upset and the other needed a stoppage to remain on track to what some had been predicting one day would be billionaire status, was as sudden and unexpected enough to warm the cockles of the most undemonstrative onlooker peering at his black and white television set in Mongolia.
Or indeed your author, sitting in his armchair in Beckenham nursing a malt whisky, beholding proceedings on his high-definition Sony 42” screen.