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MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: BETERBIEV VS. BIVOL, JOSHUA VS. NGANNOU, SAUDI ARABIA VS. THE USA

By Paul Magno | January 18, 2024
MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: BETERBIEV VS. BIVOL, JOSHUA VS. NGANNOU, SAUDI ARABIA VS. THE USA

Hello boxing fans and dedicated haters. Here’s another week’s worth of my bulbous sack, bulging with gooey, salty truth, in your face. Enjoy. This week, we have comments/questions regarding Beterbiev-Bivol, Joshua-Ngannou, and Saudi Arabia vs. The USA

Beterbiev vs. Bivol / UK vs. USA Boxing Media

Beterbiev v Smith was obviously a mismatch for various reasons. Of course the media stateside aren't going to tell it like it is. The same way they take no interest in putting pressure on promoters to stage Beterbiev v Bivol. 

Can you imagine if Beterbiev and Bivol were two American fighters? The amount of disdain and innuendo that would be thrown at each fighter would be of epic proportions.  

Beterbiev v Bivol is must see TV. It's the best match up available in the LHW division and one of the best possible match ups in professional boxing. However, this fight isn't even on the radar of American boxing gossip queens.

On the other hand can we blame the UK boxing pundits for having pride in their fighters? A lot of UK fighters are overrated, but that's British culture.  Arrogance is their thing and by nature they're going to show pride and overhype their own. Fortunately, it works well. The big media outlets in the UK actually have a dedicated team that covers the sport and they do a damn good job of propping up UK boxing products. Can you imagine if Americans did the same? 

– Na'-il Rahman

Hello Sr. Rahman.

I’ve pointed this out before, but, prior to July 29, Beterbiev and Bivol co-existed as world champions in the same division for a longer period of time than Spence and Crawford did. Spence-Crawford happened, Beterbiev-Bivol still hasn’t. There’s been nowhere near the crying, complaining, and moralizing about Beterbiev-Bivol as there was with Spence-Crawford.

Some people make the case that Spence-Crawford got more attention because welterweight is more of a glamour division than light heavyweight. That explains some of it, but not the fact that the establishment (and, let’s be honest, white) media remains reverential to both Beterbiev and Bivol, almost apologetic when bringing up the idea of a unification, while they value-judged and lambasted the hell out of Spence and Crawford (but especially Spence) for the unification not happening. 

Of course there’s a double standard when it comes to the way African American fighters are portrayed and, ultimately, judged in the media. White fighters can be inactive without being called lazy, thieving, or conniving. White fighters can maneuver around certain bouts without being labeled “cowards” or “ducks.” A white fighter who can box is called a master stylist. A black fighter who can box is called a runner and boring. Etc...

This double standard will be a forever thing, until the media covering the sport is more representative of those actually competing in the sport and watching the sport. 

As for the UK media, like I wrote before, I don’t blame them for being supportive of their own (although they could at least try to beef up their perspective and grasp on reality). The problem is that the fawning and sometimes gullible/naive UK media is wildly over represented on the world stage (and they keep the gigs among themselves), so they end up establishing a lot of narratives that have little-to-no basis in reality. This wastes a lot of time and often gums up an already gummed-up world stage matchmaking process.

Beterbiev vs. Bivol (Prediction)

Hey Paul.

Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol. This is the only fight to make at 175 and the rumors better be true that we’re getting it next. How can you bet against Beterbiev at this point? He’s a wrecking ball and I’d wager that he’ll be too much for Bivol, who’s also great, but just not as overwhelmingly great. My call is Beterbiev TKO 10. What do you say? Who are you taking and how?

– Sam P.

Hey Sam.

As good and as dominant as Beterbiev has been, I’m very tempted to go with Bivol right now. Beterbiev needs someone who can be walked down and disassembled. Bivol has the jab, the hand speed, and the footwork to keep himself from being walked down. He’s also not a risk-taker and will be just fine picking at Beterbiev from a distance en route to a points victory. Beterbiev’s age may come into play when/if he has to chase down and force a fight on Bivol. At this moment, if forced to make a pick, I’d go with Bivol via decision. 

Joshua vs. Ngannou

Paul.

Are we going to see another shocker when Ngannou faces Anthony Joshua in March? Will Ngannou show up boxing again, like he did against Tyson Fury? If he does, where does he go next? I guess it would be a fight with the winner of Usyk-Fury. That’s what they’re saying anyway. What we know about Ngannou is that he’s tough as nails, strong as a bull, packs one-punch power, and is mentally strong. What we know about Joshua is that he’s phenomenally talented and athletic, but not so tough mentally. That lack of toughness makes him vulnerable in my opinion. Break it down for me, Paul. What kind of shot do you give Francis Ngannou against Joshua?

– Dean from Boston

Hey Dean.

The only thing shocking Ngannou did against Fury was not be humiliated. He managed to score a flash knockdown of Fury, but he lost that fight decisively, despite the judges’ silly split decision scorecards and the non-stop crowing from MMA media. So, I’m definitely not one of those “Ngannou shocked the world” kind of guys.

Kudos to him, though, for making himself into a boxing attraction by simply being sturdy. He did surprise a lot of people (myself included) by not looking ridiculously awful. From here on out, though, there’s no element of surprise. His opponents know that he can’t just be played with and, more importantly, they know how publicly humiliating it will be to look anything less than dominant against him. Joshua is vulnerable as fuck, but even he can get his shit together for a fight where he’ll only have to throw a stiff jab and eventually follow one of those up with a big right hand. 

Ngannou will have a better chance against Joshua than he did against Fury, but that’s entirely due to Joshua’s increased likelihood of self-sabotage. I’m 95% at Joshua either cruising to a safe decision win behind a cautious jab or stopping Ngannou late. 

American Boxing, Being Killed By The Saudis?

Hey Magno.

We’re more than two weeks into the new year and all we hear about are the major events being staged in Saudi Arabia. Not a peep about any major fights in the US. PBC hasn’t even posted a schedule and they’re supposed to kick off in March. So, is this what having the life strangled out of American boxing looks like?

– The Fight Fan

Hey Fight Fan.

No need to panic, lol. You’re hearing about Saudi major events because they just had a press conference to announce two high-profile cards. This time of year has traditionally been a slow time for the American fight scene. 

As things stand right now, Saudi cards aren’t having the slightest affect on anything happening in the US. The Saudis have mostly focused on 175 and above and there just aren’t all that many names in those weight classes that are bankable entities in the US, anyway. It’s not like American fight fans are losing out on seeing Anthony Joshua (who doesn’t fight in the US) or Tyson Fury (who, perhaps, CAN’T fight in the US). Beterbiev fights out of Canada. Bivol is a boxing nomad. Nobody cares about the cruiserweights. Usyk has only fought once in the US since 2017. If anything, the UK fight scene is the one being strangled by the Saudi activity, with all of their biggest and best being peddled off to the “kingdom” by Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, who’ve proven that their only interest in boxing is a selfish one (duh). It’s quick, easy money and the promoters are jumping at it, as promoters tend to do. 

American fight fans would have cause for concern if bankable American fighters start being drawn to Saudi Arabia. But I don’t think that’s too likely. Because, despite all the attention the Saudis get for their money and influence, there’s still more money to be had in the US market, with fights that appeal to the American fight fan. 

Got a question (or hate mail) for Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack? The best of the best gets included in the weekly mailbag segment right here at FightHype. Send your stuff here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com.

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