Sporting Soapbox: The best '“ and worst '“ of the fight game
Adam Lord looks beyond the bright lights of another big night for boxing superstar Anthony Joshua and at the chief supporting contest where the murkier side of the sport was on show as David Price was knocked out by Russian Alexander PovetkinOn Saturday night the eyes of much of the sporting world were on South Wales.
Anthony Joshua had sold out a major UK stadium for just the third time in 11 months, going on to add Joseph Parker’s WBO belt to his ever-expanding collection of heavyweight titles in Cardiff.
Adding the Deontay Wilder’s WBC strap to his collection and completing the set is next on the agenda.
Whether he does that or not, the Olympic gold medalist is a bonafide superstar who transcends his sport. No matter what you think of the depth of boxing’s glamour division compared to previous eras, with Wladimir Klitschko retired and Tyson Fury only just looking like returning to action, Joshua is an unprecedented draw.
Some 80,000 tickets sold again and with huge pay-per-view numbers likely, sporting leading lights don’t come along like this all too often.
Major events like Matchroom’s production in the Welsh capital do bring out the best and worst of the sport though.
The chief support pitting Liverpool favourite David Price against top-ranked Russian Alexander Povetkin, recently back from a drugs ban, didn’t sit well with most observers who were willing the giant Scouser to upset the odds for the good of the sport.
Price has been badly knocked out on a few occasions as a promising career faltered.
Two of the men he lost to, Tony Thompson and Erkan Teper, had been taking performance-enhancing drugs. So to agree to face a man who had twice failed tests was perplexing to say the least.
Clearly the lure of a major victory and the chance to face Joshua meant other things went out of the window for Price, who has been outspoken about the misdemeanours against him in the past.
For all it said about boxing, where business often comes before any sense of what is right or wrong, it nearly paid off for the 34-year-old, who wobbled Povetkin before being heavily floored and stopped.
His performance surprised many but the sight of a man who has suffered as many knockdowns as Price has falling to the canvas was tough to watch even for a hardened boxing fan, especially given who was delivering the blow.
Some 210 miles away, less high-profile names were grafting at Preston’s Guild Hall. Yes, it was televised, but this was a fight night that displayed a very different side of the sport.
Prospects, local favourites and journeymen all put it on the line as they do week in, week out, up and down the land to try and get their big break or simply pay the mortgage.
They may not be the best boxers but it is arguably the best of boxing.