Weights: Joshua 236.5, Bakhtov 226; Selby 125.6, Brunker 125.4
By Scott Gilfoid: World Boxing Council (WBC) International featherweight champion Lee Selby (19-1, 7 KOs) successfully weighed in on Friday for his IBF featherweight title eliminator fight on Saturday night against #15 WBO fringe contender Joel Brunker (27-0, 15 KOs) at the O2 Arena in London, UK.
Selby, 27, weighed in at 126.6 pounds. Brunker weighed in at 125.4 pounds. Selby’s promoter Eddie Hearn is calling this a 50-50 fight, which I personally feel is totally laughable. This fight is about as much a 50-50 fight as the Anthony Joshua vs. Denis Bakhtov fight.
It’s basically a fight stacked heavily in Selby’s favor. Brunker looks very, very average in his fights, and he’s not faced anyone that you can remotely call a good fighter.
The winner of the Selby-Brunker fight will become the mandatory challenger to IBF champion Evgeny Gradovich. It’s interesting that Selby is being positioned against Gradovich rather than WBO champion Vasyl Lomachenko, WBA champions Nicholas Walters and Nonito Donaire or WBC champion Jhonny Gonzalez.
It looks like Hearn is positioning Selby in the path of least resistance rather than testing him against the very best fighters in the featherweight division. It’s a smart move by Hearn because Selby would likely be knocked out by all the aforementioned champions. Gradovich is definitely the weak link among the champions, but even he is probably too good for Selby.
Heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua (8-0, 8 KOs) weighed in at 236.5 pounds for his fight against the much shorter 5’11 ½” Russian Denis Bakhtov (38-9, 25 KOs) in their 10 round bout. The 34-year-old Bakhtov weighed in at 226 pounds. Hearns sees this as a big step up for the 6’6” Joshua, but let’s be real about this, it’s not.
Bakhtov was knocked out in just 5 rounds by Manuel Charr last year, so we’re not talking about any real step up for Joshua from his last fight against Konstantin Airich. This is a straight up mismatch.
While Bakhtov has gone the distance in most of his losses the fact remains he’s lost to the top guys he’s fought, and he’s not really fought anyone good. He’s been beaten by Andrzej Wawrzyk, Alexander Ustinov, Vyacheslav Glazkov, Juan Carlos Gomez, Saul Montana and Sinan Samil Sam.
Joshua looks like he weighs a lot more than the 236.5 pounds, but that’s because he’s really top heavy due to all the weight training he does. He’s put a lot of muscles on his upper body at the expense of his legs, and it’s made him really slow. If you compare Joshua to a fast heavyweight with brutal power like Deontay Wilder, it’s like night and day when it comes to hand speed and ability to move around the ring. Deontay is much faster and a lot of more fluid with the way he moves compared to the lumbering arm-punching Joshua in my view. I think Joshua needs to stop lifting weights and focus on quickness and flexibility because he’s too slow and rigid, and he’s going to struggle once he faces a good heavyweight.