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COME ON IN, THE WATERS LOVELY

By Ben Thomsett – Let’s take a moment to reflect on how easy it is for us all to not be Kubrat Pulev. Done? Okay, now let’s also thank whatever Gods we believe in that we don’t have to live our lives at the mercy of the sharpened wallets of boxing promoters. Kubrat learned that lesson – if he didn’t already know it as he sat sweating on a gym stool having yet another phone conversation that made the previous two weeks work pointless – and I’m guessing it was a sobering one.

Being punched in the head is no laughing matter, and it should be rewarded well for those brave souls who step into a boxing ring on a professional basis. Let’s get that clear before you think this is a pasty-faced rant by somebody who is sneering from the relative safety of sitting at a desk behind a locked door in a leafy suburb where punches to the face are thin on the ground. But, out here so is the cash. Whatever.

Back in the heady days of just after Easter 2018, the IBF ordered Pulev to fight Dillian Whyte in a ‘Final Eliminator bout’ (a phrase to make even the most rabid sofa-bound boxing fan shudder) for a chance to join the other fish in the Don King memorial shark tank attempting to line up against Anthony Joshua or, at least, surf the wave he makes as his fin breaks the surface. For Whyte, who gave a great performance against Joshua late 2015, this would mean a second bite at the big man. It’s all Dillian talked about for the month following his heroic defeat. Anyone would bet their home on him ripping a sanctioning body’s arm off and beating his signature into the desk where contracts leading to a rematch with Joshua were to be signed. He didn’t. The deal fell through, with Pulev claiming Whyte’s promoter – Eddie Hearn – was suffering from impaired judgement and had pulled the plug. What’s a man to do…unless your promoter is the same one who represents the man you almost knocked over and who now reigns supreme (Bronze Bomber excluding) like a towering pillar of beautiful basalt on the cliff tops of boxing’s green and pleasant land. You do what anyone else would do: you make hay while the sun shines. You listen. You accept you are good at what you do but there are certain rules involved if you want to avoid being turned into just another side-show. Dillian doesn’t want that, and I don’t want that for him either.

If you were Eddie Hearn what would you do? I mean, you promote both fighters. Would you let him knock over the ageing Pulev and have the headache of the IBF scratching at your ankles for Whyte v Joshua pt2, or do you look to what you do best: PR the living daylights out of the UK public and make what you know will be another arena sell-out show on home soil? After all, you hold all the boxing Panini stickers right now in the division, and the boys with the right toys rule the playground. Step up the man who went the distance with the Champ…

Dillian v Parker is a good fight. We all know this. If there was any justice this would not be for a couple of dreamed up titles but would actually count for something. We all know when the paperwork is being done the power brokers won’t forget our – the punters – power. We watch. We pay. We talk. Since the ending of the Klitschko junta we demand more from the heavyweight division. We know when another Matchroom card is so one-sided it would be impossible to flip it over. We aren’t mugs, and neither are Whyte or Parker. They will earn plenty of cash – the fight is PPV, by all accounts – and that the winner is going to be right up there when future PPV deals are being thrashed out in dark rooms. This fight should be awesome.

Whyte will be right at Parker from the start. Despite Parker’s freakish durability, I’m guessing he’ll see a confident Dillian and he’ll struggle. A patient and rangy Anthony Joshua is one thing, but a power puncher who wants to step into you at every given moment is quite another. And Whyte loves close-in work.

Parker has nowhere near the power of his opponent, but he is a fighter and he has that bomb-proof chin. He’s a forward fighter too. Almost a year ago Hughie Fury boxed Parker’s lips off but lost by majority decision. Fury simply didn’t have the right hand primed with enough Newtons, though he’s a slick and clever fighter. Parker plodded on forward and was deemed to be more aggressive. He’s like a glacier in a bad mood, that has arms, and likes to fight, and, and….. you get the idea, even if I don’t quite.

Parker v Whyte is going to be a blast. Unlike the laws of boxing promotion, the laws of physics still stand unshakeable and predictable. We will be entertained.

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