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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

U.S. Boxing TV Ratings for Saturday, May 20, 2017 


Here are the raw ratings for Saturday's boxing shows on U.S. TV.

The HBO telecast of Crawford-Diaz averaged 961,000. The Showtime telecast of Russell-Escandon averaged 481,000. The PBC on FS1 telecast of Benavidez-Medina (my fight of the night), on at the same time as HBO's boxing, averaged 364,000.


Top 150 Original Cable Telecasts: Saturday May 20, 2017 P18-49 P2+

Rank Program Net Start Mins Rating (000s)

9 WCB: 5/20/17 CRAWFORD/DIA HBO PRIME 11:01 PM 39 0.37 961

13 WCB: 5/20/17 CRAWFORD/DIA HBO PRIME 11:40 PM 13 0.31 767

14 WCB: 5/20/17 CRAWFORD/DIA HBO PRIME 10:31 PM 30 0.31 760

83 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 8:51 PM 29 0.13 481

93 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 7:56 PM 43 0.11 354

94 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 8:39 PM 12 0.11 377

108 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 7:45 PM 11 0.10 284

110 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 9:20 PM 15 0.09 319

115 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 6:53 PM 52 0.09 267

133 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 6:14 PM 15 0.07 228

141 PREMIER BOXING CHAMPION L: DAVID BENAVIDEZ/ROGELIO MEDINA FOX SPORTS 1 10:00 PM 127 0.07 364

146 SHO CH BOX: 2017 SHOWTIME PRIME 6:29 PM 24 0.07 206

http://www.showbuzzdaily.com/articles/showbuzzdailys-top-150-saturday-cable-originals-network-finals-5-20-2017.html

(Photo of David Benavidez and Rogelio Medina, credit Edgar Ramos / Premier Boxing Champions.)

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Monday, May 22, 2017

No Holds Barred: Kell Brook, Errol Spence Jr., Benavidez-Medina Fight of the Night 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook and unbeaten challenger Errol Spence Jr., who fight this Saturday, May 27. We also comment on this past Saturday's full day of fights, and why the David Benavidez-Rogelio "Porky" Medina fight deserved the honor of being known as the televised fight of the night.

Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) and Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) face each other in the main event of a card at the Bramall Lane football stadium in Sheffield, U.K., which will be shown live in the U.K. on Sky Sports Box Office and live in the U.S. on Showtime. The winner will likely be regarded as the top fighter in the talent-rich welterweight division.

We spoke with both Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr. on a recent media conference call, in which they both promised victory.

This past Saturday, May 20, there were several important fights around the world. Gervonta Davis, Gary Russell Jr., and the masterful Terence Crawford all had dominating performances to retain their respective belts. There was also a disgraceful robbery, in which Rances Barthelemy was given a gift and undeserved decision win over Kiryl Relikh, and a riot in and outside the ring following Jose Uzcategui's disqualification loss against Andre Dirrell after he hit him after the bell sounded in the eighth round and Dirrell could not continue.

The high point of the night took place in the main event of a PBC card on FS1 which many may have passed up hoping that for a change HBO, which had its telecast on at the same time, would present something noteworthy.

The PBC on FS1 card was headlined by what turned out to be an eight-round, non-stop battle between budding star, the 20-year-old David Benadivez, and veteran Rogelio "Porky" Medina, who many remember last year gave IBF super middleweight champ James DeGale all he could handle. For Benavidez, this was his toughest opponent yet, and in what was billed as a 168-pound title eliminator, he established himself as both a legitimate contender and a must-see fighter.

We discussed why the Benavidez-Medina fight was fight of the night, the need for this fight to be replayed both on TV and online, the need for PBC to set up its own online video service showing full fights, how HBO and his promoters have completely botched the marketing and promotion of Terence Crawford, and much more.

(Photo of Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr., credit Lawrence Lustig, Matchroom Boxing. Photo of David Benavidez and Rogelio Medina, credit Edgar Ramos / Premier Boxing Champions.)

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The 2017 Frank Gotch World Catch Wrestling Tournament. On Saturday, July 15, 2017, catch wrestlers from all around the world will compete in Humboldt, Iowa, the hometown of the legendary world champion wrestler Frank Gotch. Organized by the Catch Wrestling Alliance (CWA) and co-sponsored by City of Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, Sprout Living (official protein powder of the CWA), and Ultima Replenisher (official electrolyte drink of the CWA), the event will take place at Humboldt High School. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

USA Combat Wrestling, the official U.S. governing body for combat wrestling and U.S. delegate of the International Combat Wrestling Federation (FICW), which was founded by the legendary wrestler Noriaki Kiguchi of Japan. For more information, go to CombatWrestling.us.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Photos from Malcolm X 92nd Birthday Celebration 


Here are some of my so-so photos from the Malcolm X 92nd birthday celebration at Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, May 19, 2017, New York. Hopefully more people will have more and better ones.

All-women's jazz group!

Rep. Yvette Clarke.

Robert Jackson.

African drums.



Journalist Les Payne, who is writing a real biography of Malcolm X.

Robert Jackson, Malaak Shabazz, Yvette Clarke.

Malaak Shabazz, Les Payne.

Eddie and Malaak Shabazz.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

From Aug. 2016 - No Holds Barred: Renzo Gracie and Malaak Shabazz on MMA, Malcolm X, and Grappling 


From Aug. 2016 in honor of the 92nd anniversary of the birth of Malcolm X on May 19 -

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA legend Renzo Gracie, and human right activist Malaak Shabazz, who is the youngest daughter of Malcolm X.

We spoke with them Wednesday at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York. We spoke with them before the announcement Saturday that Renzo Gracie would face Matt Hughes in a superfight at the upcoming ADCC World Championship on September 22-24, 2017, in the Espoo Metro Areena, Helsinki, Finland.

We began discussing with Renzo MMA in Asia, including his classic Pride fight with Sakuraba in 2000, as well as the more recent growth of Rizin and ONE Championship. He noted that these are all "amazing Asian events." We also talked about Tuesday's MMA Symposium at Columbia University.

A few minutes into the discussion, Malaak joined us. She discussed her recent trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and what she saw in the favelas.

She also has known Renzo for a long time, and vowed to return to training.

"Even though I had a leg injury, I am still a grappler," she said.

We discussed her father's support for training in martial arts, and how she and her five sisters had to have training in martial arts and piano.

Malcolm X's advocacy of martial arts training saw it as a component part of the freedom struggle for human rights.

As Renzo pointed out, "You can't demand freedom without knowing how to fight. And he knew that. He was a fighter before anything else."

We also discussed how what Malcolm X advocated was training in both striking and grappling, in other words, in what is today called mixed martial arts.

We also discussed how urban kids, both boys and girls, want and need more martial arts programs; the need for people in the combat sports to study sports management programs in college; plans for hosting more events; and much, much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

Thanks, Eddie Goldman
EddieGoldman.com

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Monday, May 15, 2017

No Holds Barred: Gervonta Davis, Liam Walsh, Boxing TV Notes 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with unbeaten fighters Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh, who face each other Saturday, May 20, and discussed the current situation regarding boxing on TV in the U.S.

Making the first defense of his IBF 130-pound belt, the 22-year-old Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) hits the road to face 31-year-old British challenger Liam Walsh (21-0, 14 KOs) at London's Copper Box Arena, the site of the 2012 Olympic boxing. This fight will be shown live in the U.K. on BT Sport on BoxNation, and live in the U.S. on Showtime.

We spoke with both Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh on their recent media conference call, in which both fighters confidently but respectfully predicted victory.

May 20 is a busy day for boxing, as BoxNation, Showtime, HBO, and the PBC on FS1 will also have more televised fights.

We discussed the ongoing decline of HBO's boxing program, the growth of Showtime's boxing program including its schedule of international fights such as Davis-Walsh, what might happen television-wise if there is a Joshua-Klitschko rematch, and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The 2017 Frank Gotch World Catch Wrestling Tournament. On Saturday, July 15, 2017, catch wrestlers from all around the world will compete in Humboldt, Iowa, the hometown of the legendary world champion wrestler Frank Gotch. Organized by the Catch Wrestling Alliance (CWA) and co-sponsored by City of Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, Sprout Living (official protein powder of the CWA), and Ultima Replenisher (official electrolyte drink of the CWA), the event will take place at Humboldt High School. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

USA Combat Wrestling, the official U.S. governing body for combat wrestling and U.S. delegate of the International Combat Wrestling Federation (FICW), which was founded by the legendary wrestler Noriaki Kiguchi of Japan. For more information, go to CombatWrestling.us.

Thanks, Eddie Goldman
EddieGoldman.com

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Friday, May 12, 2017

No Holds Barred: Charles Farrell on Fixing Fights 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with our colleague, correspondent, and award-winning boxing writer, Charles Farrell.

We spoke with him in New York Wednesday at a book party for a new book in which he is one of the featured writers, The Bittersweet Science.

His contribution is an essay called "Why I Fixed Fights", and that is the topic we discussed.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The 2017 Frank Gotch World Catch Wrestling Tournament. On Saturday, July 15, 2017, catch wrestlers from all around the world will compete in Humboldt, Iowa, the hometown of the legendary world champion wrestler Frank Gotch. Organized by the Catch Wrestling Alliance (CWA) and co-sponsored by City of Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, Sprout Living (official protein powder of the CWA), and Ultima Replenisher (official electrolyte drink of the CWA), the event will take place at Humboldt High School. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

USA Combat Wrestling, the official U.S. governing body for combat wrestling and U.S. delegate of the International Combat Wrestling Federation (FICW), which was founded by the legendary wrestler Noriaki Kiguchi of Japan. For more information, go to CombatWrestling.us.

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Sunday, May 07, 2017

No Holds Barred: Stinkers of the Ring 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman discusses Saturday's stinkers involving Joseph Parker vs. Raz Cojanu and Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Also discussed is the continuing tragedy involving Prichard Colon, who remains in a coma following a televised fight on October 17, 2015, and whose family has filed a $50 million lawsuit stemming from his treatment during and after that fight. We also examine, in light of boxing's ongoing history of purposeful mismatches and tragedies, why many people still follow it.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

USA Combat Wrestling, the official U.S. governing body for combat wrestling and U.S. delegate of the International Combat Wrestling Federation (FICW), which was founded by the legendary wrestler Noriaki Kiguchi of Japan. For more information, go to CombatWrestling.us.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Can Anthony Joshua, Citizen of the World, Become the Next Muhammad Ali? 


by Eddie Goldman

Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua does not want to be mentioned alongside the likes of Muhammad Ali.

"Can I ever see a time that it will be Ali, Foreman, Holmes, Joshua? Nah," the 27-year-old heavyweight champ reportedly said.

"There are too many opinions now. They didn't give Klitschko the respect he deserves, you know what I mean. I just try and keep some distance from it and stay in my own lane," he went on.

"As long as I'm happy, that's what matters. I'm not perfect but what I do, I do good. I'll keep improving on it and if that's good enough to get me through in boxing, then I'll be satisfied. I know I can get better."

Despite his most modest self-assessment, there are many of us who argue that he is precisely suited to become potentially as big as was The Greatest.

Back on January of this year, in what now seems like a different and earlier era in boxing, you just didn't hear comparisons of Anthony Joshua and Muhammad Ali. At the January 31 Joshua-Klitschko news conference in New York hyping their April 29 bout, when I told Gareth Davies of the UK's Telegraph that Joshua had the potential to become as popular as Ali, this view ended up exploding onto headlines in the British and Irish media.

Now, after Joshua's momentous and historic 11th round TKO victory over Klitschko this past Saturday before 90,000 fans in London's Wembley Stadium, such comparisons are flooding the general sports and sports business media.

Yes, visions of this fight may still be sharp in many people's minds and the emotions it evoked may still be powerful just days after it made its way into boxing, sports, and cultural history. But that does not mean that these comparisons, and the projection that Joshua could become the next Ali, are simply infatuations which will fade in less giddy times.

Nicely juxtaposed photos of Joshua standing over a downed Klitschko alongside Ali standing over a downed Sonny Liston in similar poses have been plastered all over the British media.

No less than the business publication SportsBusiness Daily, whose audience is far different from that of the British tabloids which promise secret shots of naked celebrities, ran a piece called Anthony Joshua Drawing Comparisons To Muhammad Ali.

Sure, Joshua is only 19-0 with 19 knockouts, with a growing queue of undefeated fighters vying to fight him, including Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Joseph Parker, and Luis Ortiz. But do you know what Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, did in his 19th fight? After being knocked down in the fourth round, he stopped Henry Cooper in the fifth -- before 35,000 people in Wembley Stadium. The more noteworthy, and still controversial, fights with then-heavyweight champion Sonny Liston were fights numbers 20 and 21 in Ali's career.

Of course, besides his years of heroics in the ring, Ali was both adored and hated for what he did outside the ring. (At a media event in 2002 to publicize a one-off Ali magazine, before a crowd of New York boxing and media types I asked Ali which he was proudest of, his accomplishments in the ring or outside the ring. To the amazement of almost everyone except me, he said, in what was left of his voice, "outside the ring.")

Ali's conviction for his refusal to be drafted into the US Army on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector on religious grounds, later overturned by the US Supreme Court, and his stern denunciation of American aggression in Vietnam as racist, led him, then with a record of 29-0, to be stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from boxing by the devils who control it. Almost all the mainstream writers of this supposed classic era of sportswriting condemned him and even refused to call him by his chosen name, Muhammad Ali, with the most notable exception in the mainstream media being Howard Cosell.

He also proudly and loudly trumpeted the Black separatist line of the Nation of Islam he believed at that time, and even broke ties with his mentor Malcolm X, whom many believe was assassinated in a plot concocted with the cooperation and/or participation of Nation of Islam leadership. Ali did later admit regret for his break with Malcolm and apologize to Malcolm's family, and the most moving speaker at Ali's 2016 funeral was the eldest daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, Attallah Shabazz.

While Ali's political views clearly moderated after he broke with the Nation of Islam and became a more traditional Sunni Muslim, and culturally he was more or less mainstreamed, he remains an icon for those struggling against war, oppression, exploitation, and discrimination around the world.

What do we know of Anthony Joshua's political beliefs? Not much, publicly at least. What he thinks of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, or Trump, Le Pen, Macron, Putin, Assad, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong-un, or the 2015 elections in Nigeria, has not been publicized. Where he stands on Brexit, refugees, and LGBT rights is also not publicly known.

But we do know that he is trying to be, whether he calls it that or not, a humanist.

Shortly after defeating American Charles Martin in April 2016 to win the IBF heavyweight belt, his first major world title, Joshua was interviewed by Nigerian journalist Oma Akatugba at the 2016 Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin. In that video, which has recently gone viral, Joshua, with a laugh, said "the secret of the success" was that he eats the popular Nigerian dishes of eba, pounded yam, and egusi soup.

But more seriously he addressed the issue of his nationality. His mother, Yeta Odusanya (with whom he still lives), is from Nigeria, and his father, Robert, is of Nigerian and Irish descent. He was born in Watford in the UK, but spent part of his youth in Nigeria.

Asked whether he considers his nationality Nigerian or British and "Where does your heart lie?" his response was this:

"We're citizens of the world. All this political stuff where this is British, this is Nigerian, this is -- we're citizens of the world. That's the most important thing. But my heart is with Nigeria, my heart is with Britain. I'm a Nigerian man by blood, yes."

Joshua the internationalist is already a worldwide attraction for boxing and sports fans viewing his fights in many parts of the planet. The Joshua-Klitschko fight was reportedly screened in 140 countries.

According to numerous media reports, promoter Eddie Hearn has already claimed that this fight has shattered the UK record for pay-per-view buys, with numbers still coming in. In Germany, where it was aired it on the RTL network and not pay-per-view, the fight had an average viewership of 10.43 million people. In Poland, where it aired on Polsat Sport, the average viewership was 920,000. It also aired in Russia on Match TV, with no figures available at this time.

In the US, which is becoming more and more a backwater of boxing, the premium cable networks Showtime, which has a deal with Joshua, and HBO, which has a deal with Klitschko, wrangled for months over how to share the TV rights for this fight. They only announced their arrangement less than two weeks before the fight itself, with Showtime airing it live, meaning in the afternoon in the US, and HBO showing a replay that night. Even with all the delays which no doubt handcuffed the proper marketing of this fight in the US, both telecasts drew impressive numbers.

The live Showtime telecast averaged 659,000, and peaked at 763,000, amazing numbers for a fight outside the US that started at about 5 PM EDT/ 2 PM PDT.

One might think that viewership would be hurt for the HBO replay because the results, recaps, analyses, and even YouTube videos could be easily found by anyone who has ever seen the letters "http". Nevertheless, the replay averaged 738,000 viewers on HBO and peaked at 890,000 - making it higher than any of HBO's live boxing shows this year.

Just imagine the number of viewers in the US if the TV suits had put it live on the free CBS broadcast network instead of on premium cable on Showtime. On CBS at the time of the fight was a live broadcast of golf (lol), whose organizers booked the time months in advance, unlike the boxing promoters whose anarchic system requires a separate deal for every fight. This golf showing got 1.5 million viewers, surely far fewer than a well-publicized live broadcast of this fight would have received.

Now Anthony Joshua is in demand all over the world. He reportedly turned down an offer to do a blitz of appearances on American TV talk shows this week, preferring to stay in the UK with his family and friends, and also prepare for some public appearances there.

The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he will soon invite Anthony Joshua to Nigeria.

Anthony Joshua is indeed a citizen of the world, as was Muhammad Ali, and his reign as the universally regarded top heavyweight in the world is just starting. But unlike Ali, his ascendance to an iconic status like him will not be as dependent on him being recognized as such as widely in America. "America First" hysteria may work for Trump voters, but not in world boxing.

Back at that January 31 news conference, I asked Joshua how he was handling all the hoopla around him and talk about him being the future of boxing. He replied by summing up his situation, matter-of-factly:

"I think it's just going to come with the territory, provided I keep on winning. If I'm getting banged down in my next five fights, we don't hear this talk anymore. So I think, right now I'm winning. This is what we'll continue to hear. Boxing is all based on winning. Boxing is based on winning. It's not as if, 'Oh, he lost three fights. That's good, and ....' Nah. It's based on winning. If I'm winning, we'll talk about unification. We'll talk about Vegas. If I'm not winning, the next man comes up and takes that position."

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

One Love: The Message of Anthony Joshua 


by Eddie Goldman

It may have been logistically impossible for those who attended Donald Trump's rally Saturday evening at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to have watched the live TV showing of the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight from London. But in the unlikely event that they did see it live, or saw the televised replay later that night, they would have heard diametrically opposed messages.

Trump gave a speech which CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who had been a top presidential adviser under Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, said on CNN was "a deeply disturbing speech" and "the most divisive speech I have ever heard from a sitting American president." In the speech, Trump returned to his campaign's ultra-nationalist, anti-scientific, anti-immigrant, and anti-media themes. Presented on his 100th day in office, Trump has thus far had zero major legislative achievements and has the lowest approval ratings of any new president at this stage of his term since World War II. And his faithful cheered him like a rock star.

Trump even lied about the attendance at this meeting, claiming the building couldn't fit all the people who wanted to enter inside, even though there were visibly entire rows and sections of empty seats, easily seen in photographs of the event.

Across the Atlantic, in a world normally as or more sordid than politics, a boxing match was taking place, and this one legitimately had filled up 90,000 seats in London's Wembley Stadium. It also, according to promoter Eddie Hearn, broke the UK pay-per-view record of 1.15 million for the 2015 Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. We are awaiting what are expected to be record or near-record numbers from the German telecast on RTL, as well as the live US telecast on Showtime and replay on HBO later that night. And we know a lot of folks watched it online, legit or not.

On Twitter, its hashtag, #JoshuaKlitschko, was trending number two in the US even before the fight started, and trended (or some spelling variation of it) first in the world and the US for some time after it ended.

This battle, of course, featured the UK's superstar, 27-year-old Anthony Joshua, in the toughest test in his brief career, defeating the former champion of the heavyweight division, 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine, who also spends time living in Germany and California.

As you likely know, this was an epic fight which saw both fighters knocked down and hurt. The climax and culmination had, in the 11th round, Joshua score two massive knockdowns on Klitschko, followed by a fierce barrage while a battered Klitschko was up against the ropes, causing American referee David Fields correctly to halt the fight.

The TKO victory for Joshua was not only a successful defense of his IBF belt and gave him the WBA belt, but it showed that Joshua could come back from adversity and after being seriously in trouble, to overcome a vastly more experienced fighter like Klitschko.

This was without question one of the greatest heavyweight fights in history. It is a bona fide fight of the year candidate. And it included a round of the year candidate in the fifth, where Joshua dropped and hurt Klitschko early on, only to be hurt himself and almost dropped as the round progressed. In fact, Joshua clearly was winning the fight when he scored his fifth-round knockdown, but it was in that round that the momentum changed and Klitschko rallied for a significant portion of the rest of the fight, until he met his doom in round 11.

There has already been lots and lots of poignant analyses of the ups and downs of this fight. I recommend checking out what Frank Lotierzo and, when it comes out probably this week, Charles Farrell have to say about it. It would be pointless for me to try to duplicate, even if I actually could, what they said and wrote.

More important than the breakdown of these 11 rounds, and even that Joshua is now obviously the top heavyweight in the world and probably the most popular fighter in the world today, are the cultural and even political significance of Anthony Joshua's rise to such prominence.

While much of the West descends into the flames of xenophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria, from Trump to Le Pen to Brexit and on and on, while Putin and the Mullahs of Iran prop up the genocidal Assad regime in carrying out its countless war crimes and killing and displacing of millions of people, while the various Islamic terrorists such as Daesh/ISIS and others remain active forces, here comes a boxer, the British-born son of Nigerian immigrants, who has captivated the hearts of so many diverse people from all around the world.

In his postfight comments, of course, Joshua discussed the fight itself, whom he may want to fight next, and so on. He continued his entirely respectful and almost reverential approach to Klitschko, as did Klitschko towards Joshua.

George Orwell may have written in 1945 in his essay The Sporting Spirit that "sport is an unfailing cause of ill-will." He may have been right much of the time, and especially in boxing, but not in Wembley Stadium this past Saturday night.

Using several social media platforms, Anthony Joshua posted a short video while still in the ring shortly after the fight. Along with his mates, he said he hoped his fans enjoyed the fight, and added, echoing Bob Marley, "And onto the next one. I'm saying, we don't rest. Let's keep it going, people. One love. Peace."

One love. Peace. From the heavyweight champion of the world after a brutal boxing match with the former champion who topped that division for over a decade.

At the postfight press conference, Joshua explained again, as he has done on other occasions, his views on life and boxing:

"I'm a champion outside of the ring, first and foremost. With or without the belts or boxing, I'm a good man, I'm a family man, and I love life, so that's what's important.

"The fighting is fun, I say it to you again. I don't box just for the belts. I don't box for money. I just enjoy it, the discipline."

Again, these are the words of the heavyweight champion in one of the most dangerous if not THE most dangerous and bloody sports in the world.

There are far more reasons to like this guy than just his boxing skills, proven courage, good looks, and cheerful attitude. Whether by design or merely by the way he has developed as a person, he is attempting to bring people together around the world, regardless of where they come from or reside.

Soon he will begin a world tour to enrapture fans and non-fans alike on continent after continent. Sure, it is almost a sure bet that he will soon have his first fight in the US, probably against the undefeated WBC champion Deontay Wilder. That Joshua had no easy night against Klitschko and almost tasted defeat for the first time in his professional career, only to rally for his 19th knockout win in as many fights, only makes a Joshua-Wilder showdown that much easier of a sell and a virtual guaranteed record-setter once again. It is a serious possibility that since both Joshua and Wilder are contracted to Showtime, which is part of CBS, that their fight could air live in prime time on the CBS Broadcast Network. Get ready for more television records to be made.

While others stand in line for Joshua, including Klitschko for a rematch, the still-unlicensed and obese former champion Tyson Fury, the unbeaten WBO champ Joseph Parker, British opponents like Tony Bellew and even David Haye, and the two sanctioning body mandatory challengers Kubrat Pulev and Luis "King Kong" Ortiz, Eddie Hearn wants to take the Joshua show on the road, and fast and far.

"The plan, rather than just keep going in the UK, is to explore and break new markets and boundaries," Hearn told Reuters.

"Like the Middle East, China -- I could see him fighting in the Bird's Nest Stadium -- and Africa. I want to go worldwide with him. Ali was one of AJ's inspirations. He knows everything he did."

Whether or not the Bird's Nest Stadium is ready for a major world title fight, Anthony Joshua now has an open path, not only to being the most popular boxer and best heavyweight in the world, but to becoming the best known athlete in the world, and the most revered since his and countless millions of others' idol, Muhammad Ali.

Yet these years have a far different atmosphere than the 1960s, when that era's rebellious spirit was seen in so many people including Muhammad Ali. Anthony Joshua has as of yet shown no public signs of being a rebel. He has talked about becoming boxing's first billionaire. But he still lives in the modest working class and racially, nationally, and religiously mixed neighborhood of Golders Green in London, and with his mum, Yeta Odusanya, who is a social worker. He sports high-end headphones, but they are labelled with a map of Africa, an outline of the borders of his parents' home country Nigeria where he also spent some years of his youth, and the word "Wisdom". This same map and message is on a prominent tattoo on his right shoulder.

So Anthony Joshua is a man of two worlds: the modest life of a first-generation son of immigrants, and the custom-made luxury of a multi-millionaire worldwide star who just made at least £15 million (over USD $19 million) in one night's work.

Right now his message of "one love" remains undiluted. Who knows how he might change if or when he fights on the continent of his ancestors in a bout which would rightly or wrongly be compared to the iconic "Rumble In The Jungle" of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. You could even envision Foreman being involved in such a promotion.

Joshua already has connections in the Middle East. He spent some time this winter in the United Arab Emirates, where local Emirati promoters have been trying to land a major fight for a few years now. He posted online a photo of himself praying in a Muslim mosque in Dubai, even though he is not a Muslim. He knows how to make friends, and with integrity in his own beliefs.

China may be a tougher place to open up for him fighting, but remember that the 2008 Summer Olympics were in Beijing and the 2022 Winter Olympics will also be there. Again, he is just 27 and says he expects to fight for another decade.

By that time, Donald Trump will no longer be President of the United States, however sooner or later that may occur. Trump still may be able to get TV coverage of speeches in partially-filled farm show buildings in predominantly white areas, but if the opposite trend continues, by then, Anthony Joshua may be far more admired and listened to than the whole lot of presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens, and dictators throughout the world.

But what will be Joshua's message as he enthralls the world? One love? Show me the money? Or some combination of those, or something else?

We have plenty of time to find out, so enjoy the ride. Let's just hope, and even encourage him, always, to quote the words of Bob Marley's One Love, to "hear the children crying".

(Photo of Anthony Joshua by Esther Lin/Showtime)

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Joshua vs. Klitschko: Final Thoughts Before the Knockout 


by Eddie Goldman

(Photo of Anthony Joshua by Esther Lin/Showtime)

I have exercised my right to change my mind regarding giving discussion on the April 29 Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight a rest until fight time. My reasons include the apparently imminent publication of a major piece previewing this fight by the inestimable Charles Farrell. There already was an excellent breakdown of what to expect in this fight by Frank Lotierzo. I worked with both of them on the now-defunct BoxingRanks site. We are also in agreement that we expect a knockout win by Joshua early in the fight. This is the best place for a brief summary of my thoughts the day before the fight.

All signs point to Saturday being the start of worldwide superstardom for Anthony Joshua, and not just the beginning of a new era in the ever-shrinking nook of boxing. Yet Joshua's rise has not yet been visibly met by robust coverage from people you would expect to be intrigued by his appeal, including those in the so-called progressive media and in what's left of the American Black media.

Here is a man who is on the verge of becoming the universally recognized heavyweight champion of the world. He is the son of Nigerian immigrants to the U.K., has a tattoo of Africa with an outline of Nigeria's borders on his right shoulder, coupled with the word "Wisdom", is a former bricklayer, and survived several early missteps and run-ins with the law which had him have to wear an ankle bracelet for a year. While Joshua is already receiving much coverage in the English-speaking African media, one look at the composition of the media attendees at his recent press conferences in New York and London reveals a rather pale and paunchy lot.

Of course, most of the so-called progressives today are enamored of Putin and his Russian criminal oligarchs, as well as murderous regimes in Iran and Syria, and are most at home at conferences at elite universities. So someone like Anthony Joshua, who played several sports and actually fights for a living, is not on their radar. That his appeal resonates so greatly with Black, African, and immigrant peoples, as well as fight and sports fans, is irrelevant to these pencil necks.

The lack of bombastic coverage in the Black American media is instead more directly due to the general dreadful state of the media and the decline, up until recently, of the Black Liberation Movement. Media consolidation and ultra-commercialization have marginalized Black media perhaps more than at any time since the newspaper era began. Where are the breakout Black Internet media sites?

This could change with the development of the Black Lives Matter movement. Of note is that activist, community organizer, attorney, and poet Nikkita Oliver, who is running an invigorating campaign for mayor of Seattle representing the new Peoples Party of Seattle, and was active in the Black Lives Matter movement, is a recreational boxer at the Arcaro Boxing Gym. We may not be at the Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X stage yet, but things they are a-percolating.

For my part, I have had numerous editions of No Holds Barred on Anthony Joshua and interviews with him. Here are a few:

No Holds Barred: Anthony Joshua, Wladimir Klitschko, Eddie Hearn, Kristal Hart, Bob Carson

No Holds Barred: Is 2017 the Year of Anthony Joshua?

No Holds Barred: Is Anthony Joshua Boxing's Next Superstar?

If you want to know more about what is in Joshua's mind, just read some of what he said at Thursday's final prefight press conference in London. I transcribed the comments below from the video of it. They are in response to a question from writer Gareth Davies about carrying the mantle of the heavyweight championship globally and with dignity, following a quite respectful build-up to this fight. Here is what Anthony Joshua said:

For me, I think, before the belt, you carry the burden of your family's name. My son's name is Joshua, and I carry that with pride. So carrying the belt doesn't change me as a person.

But I just want to represent myself the best way, because I know behind me is a million people that walked the same path as me and have come from the same background, and I think I'm a representation of these people and I project that onto many others who then look upon us and judge us. So that's where I come from.

So the belts, if you see, like, some people want to carry their belt, and I'm not really into all that nonsense, 'cause I am who I am with or without the belt.

And I always said that, it's not just what you do inside the ring. It's a championship mentality throughout life.

That's how I see myself with or without the belts.

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