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Joshua vs. Whyte: Will Hearn let this fight take place?

Anthony JoshuaBy Scott Gilfoid: With heavyweight Dillian Whyte’s impressive 1st round knockout win over Irineu Costa Junior (17-5, 15 KOs) last Saturday night in Hull, UK, you have to wonder whether Eddie Hearn, the promoter for unbeaten #2 WBC heavyweight Anthony Joshua (13-0, 13 KOs), will be having second thoughts about matching his prize against the unbeaten Whyte (15-0, 12 KOs) later this year like he’d originally planned.

I’m wondering if Hearn is thinking that it might not be a good idea to throw the unproven Joshua to the wolves this early. In reading Hearn’s body language and the way he was speaking to the media after Whyte’s wipe-out of Costa Junior, I saw a lot of fear, and a lot of uncertainty in Hearn’s speech, as if he’s wondering whether he’s making the right decision in letting Joshua face the knockout artist Whyte. Hearn looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He had that thousand yard stare that you see in people sometime when they know they blew it.

I saw the same thing from Hearn when he backtracked on the idea of letting unbeaten super middleweight Callum Smith fight Rocky Fielding after Fielding absolutely destroyed Brian Vera recently. Before the fight, Hearn thought it was a great idea, but after their respective fights against other opposition, Hearn suddenly was whistling a different tune. Callum Smith had looked terrible against the light hitting Christopher Rebrasse, while Fielding looked like a seasoned pro in obliterating Vera.

Here’s what Hearn had to say after witnessing Whyte’s destruction of Costa Junior last Saturday:

“Yes, they’re both going to fight on September 12th [in separate fights]. Joshua has Gary Cornish. The deal is done. With Joshua winning on September 12th, will fight Dillian Whyte later in the year for sure,” Hearn said.

The look on Hearn’s face as he said this was the look of someone eating a bowl of distasteful gruel. Hearn spit out the words, but his facial expression didn’t match the positive sounding words.

If Hearn isn’t thinking that he’s making a huge mistake in letting Joshua fight Whyte later this year, then he needs to think about it, because this is a fight that Joshua could very well lose and lose badly. Joshua was already whipped by Whyte six years ago in the amateurs in a fight where Joshua was dropped twice in just four rounds. Can you imagine what Whyte would do to Joshua in a 12 round fight? Nothing has changed since them. Joshua has put on 30 pounds of useless muscle and appears slower, while Whyte has packed on 20 pounds and looks just as fast and even more powerful than he was when he beat Joshua in the past. Of the two, I think Whyte is by far the more improved fighter of the two.

Whyte looked great in knocking Costa Junior down twice in the 1st round with left hooks to the head. Referee Michael Alexander stopped the fight at 2:41 of the round.
“As heavyweight prospects, a lot of us focus on power but Banks has made sure I don’t overlook the basics,” Whyte told Sky Sports 1. “He wants me to relax, use my jab and the knockout will come. Once I hit him high on my temple, that was it.”

Whyte is talking about his new trainer Johnathon Banks, who has been working on ironing out the flaws in Whyte’s game since he took over the job. Banks learned everything he knows from Detroit legend Emanuel Steward, the trainer who molded Wladimir Klitschko into a world champion. Banks now trains Wladimir and has kept him winning ever since Steward passed away.
“I can’t wait,” Whyte said about wanting to fight Joshua. “I’ve got a great coach. I’m confident. I can’t wait for that fight.”

The enthusiasm that Whyte has and the confidence suggest that he really believes he’s going to beat Joshua for a second time. It’s hard to doubt Whyte because he’s got the punching power in his left hook that is going to make it very hard for Joshua to stay upright once he starts nailing him with those shots. It may even be easier for Whyte to beat Joshua a second time because Joshua is a lot slower now than he was six years ago.

All the bulky muscles that Joshua has packed onto his upper body have clearly slowed him down. While some of Joshua’s loyal boxing fans are in denial about him having lost hand speed and agility since putting on 30 pounds of muscle for no reason, all you have to do is take a look at video of his time in the Olympics in 2012 and compare it to how he’s fighting now, and you can clearly see that Joshua has gotten slower, less mobility, and not quick on his feet. He’s just a flat-footed fighter now who pushes his punches rather than throwing them with snap. That’s not good when you’re going into a fight against a talent like Whyte, because he hasn’t slowed down and he hasn’t bulked up like he was entering a body building contest. Whyte is a boxer and that’s his focus.

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