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The Debate - Boxing
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The Debate: Day of Reckoning - fight card of the year or waste of money?

As the hours and days tick down towards 'Day of Reckoning' we take a look at whether the event is worthy of its billing, fanfare and cost or simply a huge waste of money...

Make no mistake about it, 'Day of Reckoning' has caught the imagination of the public. But not necessarily for all the right reasons.

Yes, it's undoubtedly a card stacked full of A-grade fighters. Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Dmitry Bivol and Jai Opetaia are elite-level operators, and seeing them all on the same card will be a spectacle to behold.

But, with so many of the fights appearing to be largely one-sided - in betting terms anyway - many have asked the question as to whether the Saudi show is as monumental as it is being made out to be?

Some would argue that a boxing bill should only feature AJ and Wilder if they are both facing each other! After all, it's what the public have wanted for nigh on a decade.

It appears as though the two are finally on a collision course, with a spring date (likely March 9) - as part of Riyadh Season - being mooted.

But the question still remains, is 'Day of Reckoning' the fight card of the year, or a waste of money?

Two of our Boxing experts, John MacDonald and Shaun Brown look to settle the debate...
 

Day of Reckoning - What a waste of money!

There are some weekends where Sky Sports’ Premier League football offering, Super Sunday, fails to live up to the billing. 

There is nothing wrong with a double-header of Liverpool taking on Crystal Palace, before Manchester City travel to Brentford, but to justify such a grand title, two of the best teams in the country should be facing each other.

The broadcaster can be forgiven, after all, it is the standard branding for their Sunday show and often enough, Sky Sports secure the rights to some of the biggest games possible: local derbies, title run-ins and relegation battles.

The ‘Day of Reckoning’ card from Saudi Arabia is a sub-par Saturday. 

Turki Alalshikh has assembled all the ingredients to deliver a fistic feast for fight fans, but rather than pairing them with each other, 'His Excellency' has opted for strange combinations. No one wants caviar and spam.

Before I am hounded by an angry mob, it is worth noting that the two fights topping the bill are good ones.

If Deontay Wilder defeats Joseph Parker, it will be the second-best opponent ‘The Bronze Bomber’ has beaten, behind his brace of wins over Luis Ortiz, at a time when the Cuban was considered the Boogieman of the heavyweight division.

Otto Wallin will provide a stern test to Anthony Joshua. The Swede is a 6’ 5ins southpaw, who gave Tyson Fury a rough night, before going on to pick up solid wins over Dominic Breazeale and Murat Gassiev.

If either bout was topping a bill that came as part of the standard DAZN subscription, I would be happy. However, as a pay-per-view, it leaves a lot to be desired. 

At this stage in their respective careers, neither man is a PPV headliner in the United Kingdom, without the right dance partner. No disrespect to Parker or Wallin, but are they really likely to entice the general public to tune in?

There is the expectation that this card will lead to a showdown between Joshua and Wilder, early next year. Now that is a fight worth paying for.

A clash between the pair has been mooted since 2016 and, for large portions of the last decade, they had every heavyweight world title between them. At one stage, it would have been the biggest fight in the world.

Despite neither man holding a belt, it would still be highly-anticipated. There is no need for them to appear on the same card to generate hype.

If either opponent were to pull off the upset, the bout would be scuppered. The prospect of the American facing Wallin is just not as tantalising.

Even if the favourites prevail, but fail to look good in doing so, it will highlight the decline of the former champions and diminish excitement for a future showdown, rather than increase it.

The pay-per-view model should only be utilised for the biggest fights. That was the pledge Eddie Hearn made when he brought PPV back to Sky Sports.

Soon, the promoter reneged on that promise and instead delivered underwhelming main events, with “stacked” undercards. 

The ‘Day of Reckoning’ is the pure distillation of Hearn’s promotional ethos, so it is only fitting that he is involved.

The fights further down the bill are predominantly mismatches. The only intriguing bout sees Daniel Dubois face Jarrell Miller, and even that is a curiosity of a clash; boxing’s equivalent of gawking at the bearded-lady.

The card, as a whole, carries very little appeal to me, evidently, and if you are wanting a more pugilistic Christmas present, then Sky Sports are showing Naoya Inoue taking on Marlon Tapales, on Boxing Day. It’s an opportunity to watch the best fighter in the world become an undisputed champion in a second division.  

Now that’s a true Christmas Cracker.

Day of Reckoning - Fight card of the year!

‘The Day of Reckoning.’ A title that could fittingly grace the cover of any best-seller or Hollywood blockbuster. 

It’s appealing. 
It’s interesting. 
It’s theatrical.

Boxing has often been guilty of not doing a good enough job of selling its product. With ‘The Day of Reckoning’ nearly upon us, the posters, the cinematic trailers, and the chatter are all positive. 

And how can it not be?

On December 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia we will witness a plethora of leading heavyweights fighting on the same card on the same night in the same venue. Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Filip Hrgovic, Joseph Parker, Otto Wallin, Daniel Dubois, Jarrell Miller, Arslanbek Makhmudov and Frank Sanchez. And let’s not forget the best cruiserweight in the world, Jai Opetaia, and the best light-heavyweight in the world, Dmitry Bivol, are also fighting on the same show.

Do you see those ingredients? Now stir. Oh, you have lumps.

Yes, my fellow boxing writer John has issues with Joshua and Wilder not actually fighting one another but instead fighting the avoided Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin, only ever beaten by Tyson Fury on points, and Joseph Parker - a reinvigorated former world champion. 

Is boxing ever perfect? No. Do we get what we want? No. Do you always look at the negatives in something you enjoy? Yes/No.

The truth is, yes ‘The Day of Reckoning’ has the appeal of a supercar that looks fantastic but is lacking in a few areas. But instead of moaning, why not have some fun with it - to me, it looks a cracking card!

Would you prefer Anthony Joshua fighting another gimme like Jermaine Franklin or Robert Helenius, featuring on an undercard that might as well read ‘Why bother’. Would you rather not watch Deontay Wilder until the Joshua fight is locked in? Do you not want to see if Daniel Dubois has the minerals to bounce back after losing to arguably the best heavyweight in the world? 

Instead, what we will watch is Joshua in his most competitive test since he lost to Oleksandr Usyk over a year, and two fights, ago. We will watch one of the greatest knockout artists ever seen in the sport against a man capable of exposing Wilder’s weaknesses. 

Underneath we have Arslanbek Makhmudov, an undefeated heavyweight who is in a pack of contenders looking to unseat Usyk, Fury and co. His opponent Agit Kabayel, the European heavyweight champion, is an aggressive, pressure fighting German who can get in on the action with a win. 

Junior Fa, once in that chasing pack, is up against it facing undefeated Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez but December 23 is the night to showcase your skills to a watching world.

Filip Hrgovic (against Mark De Mori), Dmitry Bivol (against Lyndon Arthur) and Jai Opetaia against (Lyndon Arthur) are three fights where the word ‘showcase’ can be used for each of the three odds-on favourites. 

But boxing isn’t perfect and never will be. It sounds like an echo. It’s a sport that asks for patience, more patience, and even more patience. And if you stay the course, you will be presented with a spectacle that no other sport can match. 

Is this card one of those moments? It could be. It may not be. 

The likelihood is we are being asked to enjoy a pallet-pleasing appetiser before the main courses arrive in February with Usyk v Fury and - if reports are to be believed – March with Joshua against Wilder.

Boxing isn’t perfect and never will be. Similar words have echoed through the sport for decades and decades. Yet here we still are. 

Enjoy the fights, and this fantastic night of boxing.

Day of Reckoning

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