By: Hans ThemistodeWhat were you doing at 22 years old? Most likely you were in school or working at some job that made you feel like your life was in purgatory as you tried to figure things out. For Shakur Stevenson, at the age of 22 he just won his first world title when he easily outpointed Joet Gonzalez this past Saturday night. The talent of the former Olympic silver medalist has always been apparent, but now, he has put everything together. Comparisons in boxing, or any sport for that matter, is a common occurrence. Both the fans and media alike aren't content with just watching an outstanding athlete dominate. They must place a comparison on them. Kobe Bryant was always compared to Michael Jordan. Lebron James has continued to hear about the Magic Johnson comparisons. Tom Brady and Joe Montana are seemingly joined at the hip as well. Comparisons aren't a bad thing. To the contrary, it can lead to a ton of pressure. Well, that is only if the person allows it. Comparing one former great player to a current one is one of the biggest forms of flattery that can be shown. Shakur Stevenson is a newly minted world champion in just his 13th professional fight. It really doesn't make any sense just how phenomenal he is at such a young age. The way in which he dominated Joet Gonzalez, who is by all means a solid fighter in his own right, was downright impressive. One person who has been around longer than seemingly everyone is Stevenson’s manager, Bob Arum. The one of kind promoter has seen his fair share of great fighters. Comparing them to their past counterparts is something that Arum has done on countless occasions. It comes as no surprise to see Arum compare his young star to another fighter he once had under his stable. Yet, the one he was referring to, did raise a few eyebrows.“I thought it was a really magnificent performance,” said Arum. “In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a left-handed Floyd Mayweather.”That’s quite a mouthful, isn't it? To juxtapose Stevenson and Mayweather this early in his career says a lot about the talent of Stevenson already. Let’s not forget that Mayweather did win multiple titles in five different weight classes to go along with ending his career with a perfect record through 50 fights. If Stevenson can even come close to that than he is destined for the hall of fame. Arum wasn't the only notable name who was impressed with Stevenson. Multiple division champion and current pound for pound stalwart Terence Crawford emphasized the growth he has seen in Stevenson from when he first started to where he is now.“He’s grew tremendously,” Crawford said. “He’s getting stronger. He’s getting wiser. He’s getting more sharper. He’s getting more comfortable in the ring. When I first sparred Shakur, he was just a little kid. You know? And now, we sparring, he’s learning so much in the ring by just sparring me, you know, he’s trying things on me that I do on him on me now. And I look at it and I say, ‘OK, well, he’s not just sparring me now. He’s picking up little bits and pieces of things that I do inside the ring.”From the moment Stevenson came onto the scene there was no doubting his greatness, but he has made his mark far quicker than anyone could have imagined. If he continues his rapid rise to the top he might, again might, live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him.The post Shakur Stevenson: A Left Handed Floyd Mayweather? appeared first on BoxingInsider.com.

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By: Kirk JacksonOver the course of time, historic empires experience a meteoric rise through careful craft and many, as is the scope of life, eventually fall. Historically, the Roman Empire, the Qing dynasty, Byzantine Empire and Ghana Empire are just a few that come to mind.From a fictional standpoint, The Galactic Empire of Star Wars fame, is arguably the most well-known dominion.https://youtu.be/-bzWSJG93P8In boxing, greats such as “Sugar” Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather have all enjoyed experiences as the most polarizing constellation, amongst the solar system.This current era was supposed to be Anthony “AJ” Joshua’s (22-1, 21 KO’s) reign.Joshua was the pugilistic version of the British Empire. Like the British Empire, he fulfilled his own version of sovereignty; through championship unification and by capturing three of the four world titles in the heavyweight division.But like Luke Skywalker, flying the X-wing down the Death Star’s channel, manufacturing the shot that destroyed the Death Star, Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz (33-1, 22 KO’s) playing spoiler, contrived the left hook that led to a series of knock downs for Joshua.Ruiz would ultimately pummel Joshua into submission, earning victory in spectacular fashion and leaving the Joshua Empire in shambles.Staying with the Star Wars theme, Ruiz epitomizes A New Hope – as it relates to the current dynamic of the heavyweight division.While we have other champions, other great fighters such as WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (43-0-1, 42 KO’s) and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s) battling it out amongst each other in recent times, Joshua remained isolated from those challenges in his own realm.While capturing three world titles may be deemed as impressive regardless of circumstance, it appeared there wasn’t a willingness from his side to face Wilder, or even Fury for that matter. Which is not to suggest those bouts would not manifest from fantasy to reality and there still is a chance of these bouts occurring eventually.However Wilder believes the dreams of unification will not happen if Joshua regains his titles over Ruiz.“I’m looking forward to him defeating AJ (Anthony Joshua) and winning a second time. He has all the momentum and courage. He knows what to do and I think he’s going to be victorious,” said Wilder to reporters.“It would be great for boxing if he wins because then we can finally have a unification bout. One champion, one face, one name. ‘That’s not the case if AJ wins, he’s already stated that he has no interest in fighting me no more. In the heavyweight division it’s all about unifying the division. When you have two fighters who are in agreement about that then you have no choice but to go for that fighter and you want that fighter to win. There should just be one champion in this division…so go Ruiz!”Backed by the current WBC heavyweight champion, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about Ruiz. Even his former promoters speaks of the highest esteem regarding the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican ancestry.“We let Andy go because of the financial demands he was making,” said former promoter Bob Arum to Boxing Scene.“We thought they were too high for us. We have never had anything but the utmost respect for Andy. He’s a terrific kid. He’s great. We enjoyed working with him. But these things happen. We didn’t renew with him and he went elsewhere and hit the lottery. Great for him. He deserves whatever he gets because he’s a nice person. When we parted with Andy, we made the right move. It happens.”It’s possible Ruiz is introducing his own version of the Age of Discovery – ushering new life into the division and bringing about the possibility of unification bouts against Wilder and or Fury.Since defeating Joshua this past summer, Ruiz has enjoyed his newfound wealth and acclaim to fame. A combination of buying lavish gifts for his family, performing charitable acts and living like a rock star, Ruiz realizes his distinction as heavyweight champion, affords these types of opportunities and does not want to relinquish the throne.“Of course, I don’t want these beautiful belts to go away,” Ruiz said in the final press conference leading up to the rematch.“Remember, I’ve been doing this since I was 6 years old. It’s finally paying off and no way I’m going to let these belts go. I’m going to die trying, and do anything that’s possible to get that victory. It’s been a long journey, a long roller coaster in my life, and no way I’m going to let these go Dec. 7. Let the best man win.”Entering the rematch this weekend, we have the champion with retention on his mind. Also, the mindset of the former champion, now turned challenger, with the mentality of retaliation and retribution.Joshua shares certain parallels with the Galactic Empire of Star Wars. While Joshua’s promotor, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, isn’t Emperor Palpatine and Joshua is not some treacherous force of evil, there is a collection of fans and media alike who dislike the former champion.Sometimes a dominant force is not liked or accepted for whatever reason. The New England Patriots have many detractors, as with the New York Yankees. Different variables for each respective entity, but it doesn’t matter if you’re well liked. Kings and Queens rule regardless.Referring back to Star Wars, the Empire regained control in the sequel and it remains to be seen if Joshua can do the same. He may tap into darker forces to create the result he wants.If you’re a high profile champion such as Anthony Joshua losing like he did n this social media era is extremely rough but if he over comes this backlash and win clean he’s gonna be hard 2beat in the future ps I’m a fan of both fighters I jus wanna see a great fight #RuizJoshua2— JulianJrockWilliams (@Jrockboxing) December 4, 2019 As mentioned earlier, subsequently in spite the events of A New Hope, the Empire still maintained control of the galaxy. Joshua is still the premier star heading into the rematch and regarded as the favorite. He is considered by most United Kingdom-based media outlets as the biggest star in the division.In spite of the upset loss to Ruiz, all it takes is victory in the rematch and things can return to how they once were for Joshua.Any aura of invincibility is certainly erased, but new levels of greatness may be on display by showcasing he can combat through adversity and show he never lost love or passion for the sport.“I’ve been in boxing a while now and when I came into boxing, I didn’t come to take part, I came to take over, with full force, fully committed,” said Joshua in a press conference. “The focus has already been there but I never had a chance to reflect.”“European Championships, World Championships, Olympics, British title, world title, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I am not here to put on a show, I am just here to win. I’ve been around the block in this game in a short space of time. So I have to understand that I am definitely experienced, I know what I am doing.”https://youtu.be/Ggn4-W8v2gg“I still enjoy it 100%, because I am getting better all the time. You have someone like Vasyl Lomachenko, who is great but then you have some who get better with every fight, like Canelo Álvarez, and that is what I am. You are going to see me get better every step of the way. One loss can’t strip your skin off overnight, when you put your solid foundations in, one chip in the brick can’t destroy the whole building.”If earlier claims are to remain true, as far as obtaining domination of the sport, Joshua must win this weekend. Moving forward, he must also conquer America. That means an eventual showdown with the Bronze Bomber.If Joshua wants to establish complete supremacy, that may entail challenging another monarch. The Gypsy King.https://youtu.be/XiAXAHmWyi0“Me and Andy are very different, but the only thing that all of us in this room have in common is time. I have had to use my time very wisely. I didn’t lose any heart, I didn’t lose any fire in my belly. I’m just really looking forward to it. There’s no fear in my heart, no fear in my eyes, no fear in my mind.”Joshua aims to complete the ultimate tale of redemption this weekend at Diriyah Arena, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Will the Empire strike back?The post The Empire Strikes Back!? Starring Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz appeared first on BoxingInsider.com.

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By: Hans Themistode It wasn’t exactly on the level of their first encounter, but Anthony Joshua successfully won back his IBF, WBA, IBO and WBO Heavyweight titles against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia. Ruiz informed everyone that Joshua would look to out box him this time around, and he was absolutely correct. You can criticize Joshua if you want, but he got the job done. With the Heavyweight titles back around his waist, it’s time for him to look ahead and figure out who would be the best option for him. Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua, IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight championships, Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.7th December 2019.Picture By Mark Robinson.Let’s take a look at who he should jump into the ring next in 2020. Oleksandr UsykAfter clearing out the entire Cruiserweight division, Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) made his long awaited Heavyweight debut back in October earlier this year. He didn't exactly look great against fringe contender Chazz Witherspoon, but he got the job done. As it currently stands, Usyk holds a mandatory position with the WBO. In fact, Joshua was just given 180 days to make the fight with Usyk happen or he would be stripped of his WBO title. Usyk has made it very clear that he wants his shot at gold in 2020. Fight fans would be ecstatic if this bout took place next. Hopefully, they’ll get their wish. Kubrat Pulev Much like Oleksandr Usyk, Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) is currently the mandatory for Joshua, this time around, for the IBF title. These two were scheduled to face each other in the past but the bout fell apart with Pulev suffering an injury. Since his lone defeat back in 2014 to Wladimir Klitschko, Pulev has gone on to win eight straight fights. He has done his part in fighting his way back up the ladder. It might not be the contest that fight fans want to see, but Pulev has earned his position and deserves a crack at the title. Andy Ruiz AgainAfter such a lackluster contest in their second matchup, there isn’t exactly a large number of people who are looking to see these two do it again. Yet, it has to happen, so why not sooner rather than later? Ruiz took home the stoppage win in the first bout, while Joshua boxed circles around Ruiz in the rematch. A tiebreaker between the two seems only fair. Fans might be ready to move on from this rivalry, but that can't happen until a third fight takes place. It might as well be next.The post What’s Next For Anthony Joshua? appeared first on BoxingInsider.com.

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