The Lesson in Wembley

By Marc Livitz on September 21, 2018
The Lesson in Wembley
Povetkin’s lone defeat was to former heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.

What’s at stake for the undefeated Anthony Joshua? Every major belt in the heavyweight division, save for the WBC and Ring Magazine titles…

Somewhere around the time that college football begins to heat up in North America on Saturday afternoon, boxing fans whose total number cannot yet be estimated will begin streaming the world heavyweight championship clash between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin on various devices. England’s national stadium, Wembley will welcome an expected crowd of 80,000 fans as Watford, Hertfordshire native Joshua (21-0, 20 KO’s) faces the opponent whom he’s respectfully tagged as the second biggest challenge of five-year professional career in Povetkin (34-1, 24 KO’s).

The staff at the legendary venue has already gone out of its way to inform fight fans that they should plan on arriving early due to security measures. Additionally, they’ve been notified that the stadium’s retractable roof doesn’t provide cover for every seat in the house and that they should dress accordingly as well as leave umbrellas at home.

The United Kingdom’s premier promotional outfit, Matchroom Boxing has partnered with streaming service DAZN to stream the bout live in the United States, beginning at 1PM EST. What’s at stake for the undefeated Anthony Joshua? Every major belt in the heavyweight division, save for the WBC and Ring Magazine titles.

Povetkin possesses none of them and his lone defeat was to former heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko in 2013. Matchroom’s managing director, Eddie Hearn, believes in Joshua’s marketability, which is more than evident by the fact that his prized client has fought almost exclusively in a stadium environment for the last few years. Tickets at Wembley Stadium seem to be reasonably priced, as they range from $52 all the way up to $900.

Granted, if the boxing world gets the fight for which it’s clamoring, namely a showdown between Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KO’s), then the tickets for the proposed matchup slated for April 13, 2019 at Wembley Stadium won’t likely be as economically priced. Regardless, the point is to show that venues larger than basketball arenas, such as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas should be kept in mind for future high profile bouts. In fact, it’s more than likely long past overdue.

Last weekend’s middleweight championship rematch between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was postponed from May 5 of this year to last Saturday, September 15 due to Canelo’s abnormal results on a pair of random drug tests. Nothing was going to stand in the way of the renewed rivalry, which many called the proverbial “round thirteen.” In a time not so long ago, yet longer than many of us would care to admit, championship contests were fought all over the world.

The first two bouts between boxing cornerstones “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran each took place in stadium, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (June 20, 1980) and the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana (November 25, 1980). The Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida hosted the epic clash between two legendary talents whom we’ve sadly lost to time, Alexis “El Flaco Explosivo” Arguello and Aaron “Hawk” Pryor on November 12, 1982.

Of course, over the years we’ve had various talents such as Manny Pacquiao showcase their abilities in a stadium, yet venues such as the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Event Center or the aforementioned T-Mobile Arena usually get the lion’s share of championship contests these days. The point to be made in Saturday’s showdown between Joshua and Povetkin may be the fact that the most popular fighters don’t always have to fight in Las Vegas and most importantly, fans don’t have to be shanked at the ticket booth.

Last Saturday’s bout in Sin City was as it usually was, which is nothing other than capitalism at its very finest. Yes, we all understand that Las Vegas is great at hosting events and that the fun never stops and the drinks are never subjected to a last call. We’re also fully aware that the average fight fan cannot afford fight tickets which start at $500 (which was the case for Canelo/GGG II last weekend) alongside outrageous hotel rates and inflated airfare. The house always wins.

Golden Boy Promotions supposedly “listened” to offers to host the initial matchup between Canelo and Golovkin, which took place in September of 2017. Dallas Cowboys owner and billionaire Jerry Jones was ready to offer the massive AT&T Stadium as a venue. Canelo fought there once before, in September of 2016 against Liam Smith (KO 9). He also visited Minute Maid Park in Houston in May of 2015. That was a third round pummeling of James Kirkland. It didn’t matter. The money was in the desert and so that’s where they went.

A third matchup with Golovkin held somewhere like Arlington, Texas or perhaps Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles could meet Gennady Golovkin’s wishes to not fight in Vegas again. Tickets may not begin as low as pocket change rates, yet they’d be less expensive than $500 apiece.

Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned with Saturday’s heavyweight bout in London. Will anyone listen, most notably the higher ups of the boxing world? A good time in Las Vegas to some is a mountain of debt to many more. Can the formula be fixed or must we continue to drink it?

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  1. Koolz 04:09pm, 09/22/2018

    I can’t stand…oh well watch the fight.

  2. La Grande Orange 06:41am, 09/22/2018

    Argentine champions,  Victor Galindez and Carlos Monzon had traveling schedules that would be the envy of every member of the 1970’s jet set crowd. Galindez defended his title in places like Rome, New Orleans, Johannesburg, Oslo, Copehagen, Anaheim/Los Angeles, Buenos Aires,  and NYC. Meanwhile, Monzon was logging in some impressive mileage as well, hitting Paris, Copenhagen, NYC, Monaco, Buenos Aires, etc. Nice schedules.

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