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Boxing Odds and Ends: Anthony Joshua in Miami and More

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  • Boxing Odds and Ends: Anthony Joshua in Miami and More

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    By Arne K. Lang

    Last week Anthony Joshua set up shop in Miami in preparation for his June 1 date at Madison Square Garden with Andy Ruiz. Joshua says he chose Miami to finish his training because it was in the same time zone as New York and because he was attracted to the balmy weather.

    With his Adonis physique, Joshua fits in very well in Miami where the beaches are known for spectacular eye candy. In his free time, he has taken up a new sport, golf, which was also the favorite pastime of Joe Louis. In the accompanying photo he is shown with the fellow he bemusedly calls his new golf coach, Rory McElroy. (Considering all the money that he has made, it’s remarkable that McElroy just turned 30, an age that Anthony Joshua will reach in October. McElroy hails from Northern Ireland and owns a mansion in the seaside community of Jupiter, Florida, but travels on a British passport.)

    Even before his signature fight with Wladimir Klitschko, AJ was earning big money from endorsements. Among his sponsors are a popular U.K. sports drink, a nutritional supplement company, a Swiss maker of prestigious watches, StubHub, Jaguar, and Under Armour, the Maryland-based sportswear manufacturer that now ranks second only to Nike in global sales. He traveled from London to Miami on Under Armour’s corporate jet.

    During Mike Tyson’s reign as heavyweight champion, corporate sponsors avoided boxing like the plague. Oscar De La Hoya broke the logjam but even at the height of his popularity Oscar never reaped the bonanza in endorsement money that is flowing into the coffers of Anthony Joshua.

    - - -

    When Oleksandr Usyk was forced to withdraw from his May 25 date with Carlos Takam because of a bicep injury, there were serious discussions about moving the show from the MGM Grand Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, to the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. That would have suited undercard participants Devin Haney and Michael Hunter just fine as both now live and train in Las Vegas. However, yesterday (May 9) it was decided that the show will remain in Maryland.

    Haney’s match against Mexico City’s Antonio Moran has been bumped up to the main event. Haney, who turned pro at age 16 in Mexico, has designs on winning a world title before his 21st birthday which arrives in November. This bout, with a fringe WBA title at stake, will be his first under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom banner with whom he inked a promotional deal last month. Moran (24-3, 17 KOs) is best known for losing a close but unanimous decision to former IBF 130-pound title-holder Jose Pedraza.

    At last look, Haney (21-0, 16 KOs) was ranked 4th at lightweight by the WBC and WBA, in both instances a notch below Teofimo Lopez. Both brashly claim to be the future of the sport with Lopez having adopted the cognomen “The Takeover.” When they finally meet -- assuming they eventually meet and assuming the match isn’t marinated beyond the “sell by” date -- the fight will be a blockbuster.

    Michael Hunter’s opponent has yet to be determined. Logically it would be the aforementioned Takam, the 38-year-old French-Cameroonian who is now without a dance partner.

    Before Andy Ruiz entered the picture, Hunter was the favorite to step in for Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller against Anthony Joshua. His lone defeat in 17 fights was to Oleksandr Usyk and he is in excellent form, having won four straight, the last three inside the distance, since moving up to heavyweight, his weight class as an amateur.

    There was talk that Hearn was considering shifting Hunter to the undercard of the Joshua-Ruiz fight, but that appears to have been idle speculation.

    For many people, the most interesting aspect of the May 25 card is the U.S. debut of 6’6” Croatian heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (the 2018 TSS Prospect of the Year). In some circles, Hrgovic (7-0, 5 KOs) is looked upon as a future world heavyweight champion.

    Hrgovic is paired against Gregory Corbin. If the name sounds familiar, Corbin is the fellow who fought Charles Martin on the undercard of the Errol Spence-Mikey Garcia card at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. A former national Golden Gloves champion, Corbin entered the contest undefeated (15-0, 1 NC) but one didn’t know what to expect from him as he was 38 years old, having served seven-and-a-half years in prison on a cocaine trafficking conviction before launching his pro career.

    Corbin talked a good game at the pre-fight press conference, but his performance was pathetic. The ref took a point from him for low blows in rounds 4, 5, and 6 and allowed him one more strike before disqualifying him in round eight.

    Our advice to Filip Hrgovic is this: Don’t forget to bring your cup.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel