By Jake Tiernan: Darren Barker thinks it’s a horrible idea to use Dereck Chisora as Anthony Joshua’s tune-up opponent for his fight next Saturday, August 12th, on DAZN PPV at the O2 Arena in London.
Darren says his preference for Joshua to fight next is these two heavyweights: Filip Hrgovic or Andy Ruiz Jr. In other words, Barker is willing to risk Eddie Hearn’s golden goose being cooked.
The problem with Barker’s choices is that Joshua could have an excellent chance of losing to Hrgovic & Ruiz, as those guys are formidable and definitely not the type of opposition that you face on short notice.
If Joshua was still on top of his game, fighting at the level he was in 2016, taking on Hrgovic or Ruiz on one week’s notice wouldn’t be an issue, but he’s not that guy anymore.
At 33, Joshua is a mentally & physically deteriorated shell of the fighter he was seven years ago. You can’t throw a decent heavyweight in the ring with Joshua on short notice and expect him to win because that’s asking too much of him.
Mentally, Joshua is fragile right now, having lost two out of his last three contests, and he needs a complete overhaul.
Joshua has to be babied like an old car with 300,000 miles on the odometer. For fighters with that much ring wear, you have to take it easy on them, match them carefully, and give them lots of preparation for their opponents.
Chisora in the spotlight
Barker feels that Chisora (33-13, 23 KOs) should have bowed out into the sunset after his recent fights against Kubrat Pulev & Tyson Fury. Instead, he’s reportedly training to jump in as the replacement opponent for Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) to fight next weekend.
David Haye spilled the beans, saying that Chisora has put together the same training team he had for his fight with Oleksandr Usyk in 2020, hoping to get ready in light speed to face Joshua on August 12th.
“We understood the fight with Dillian Whyte was a fight that AJ should win and probably win to set up that big fight against Deontay Wilder, and it’s looking like January now, but it was a fight with a little bit of needle, a little bit of bad blood but a little bit more respect,” said Darren Barker to iFL TV about Anthony Joshua’s August 12th fight.
“If you’re going to have a tune-up fight, Dillian Whyte, for me, ticked the boxes. I’m just gutted that it hasn’t happened.”
Let’s face it, Whyte would have been a terrible opponent for Joshua to fight to get him ready for Deontay Wilder. ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte is shot to bits, punch resistance, hand speed, and reflexes gone, and his fighting style is nothing like Wilder’s.
“I think the obvious one is Filip Hrgovic, but is that too dangerous?” Barker said about his preference to have highly ranked unbeaten contender Hrgovic as Joshua’s tune-up opponent for August 12th.
“Yes, this is boxing, and you want to compete against the best. The reason I say it’s too much of a risk is because of that big fight looming with Wilder, a fight that everyone wants to see, a fight that will generate so much money. So in that sense.”
Joshua-Chisora: Will it sell?
There’s no way on earth that Eddie Hearn would use Filip Hrgovic as Joshua’s tune-up opponent on one week’s notice. That would be utterly irresponsible for him to do that. That’s a way for Eddie’s flagship fighter, wrecked by Hrgovic.
Will boxing fans be interested in purchasing Joshua vs. Chisora on PPV? It’s doubtful that they would, but you never know, though. As the saying goes, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute.’
“AJ-Chisora? Absolutely not. No, I have no interest in that,” said Barker when asked if he’d be interested in seeing 39-year-old Dereck Chisora used as Joshua’s opponent for the August 12th card.
“Andy Ruiz,” said Barker when asked who else besides Hrgovic he’d like to see Joshua fight next. “It’s risky, and you’ve got to remember as well that one of the reasons I say ‘no’ to Derek Chisora is because I thought we’d seen the last of Dereck Chisora.
“He’s been such a great servant to the sport, and I thought it would have been a nice way for him to sort of bow out and sail off into the sunset. You have to remember that AJ and Del were mates, so I don’t know how that works in a fight. I’m not too sure. Here we go again,” said Barker.