The Boxing Esq. Podcast, Ep. 39: boxing writer Brin-Jonathan Butler reviews 2019
The Ring is proud to present “The Boxing Esq. Podcast with Kurt Emhoff”. Emhoff, an attorney based in New York City, is a top boxing manager who has represented over 10 world champions in his 20-plus years in the sport.
His guest on this podcast is Brin-Jonathan Butler, a critically acclaimed author and one of the preeminent boxing journalists. They recapped the year in boxing for 2019. They spoke about Andy Ruiz and the heavyweights; Canelo’s likely Fighter of The Year worthy campaign; the WBSS and the de facto tournaments at Welterweight and Lightweight and much more.
Below are a few excerpts from the interview:
On what were the biggest stories of 2019:
“I think it’s the cliche that where boxing went was where the heavyweights went. I mean you had the Andy Ruiz shocking, shocking victory that we both were at here at MSG over Anthony Joshua that I don’t think very many people saw coming. And you had some closure. It was book-ended with the result in Saudi Arabia (Joshua W12). I think Deontay Wilder has been very intriguing in the sense of putting on some pretty iconic knockouts, but leading up to that, losing most rounds, if not all rounds to competition that, uh, you know, he’s providing a lot of red meat to both his supporters and to his critics. And then where does Tyson fury fit in? Where (do) his ticket sales fit into boxing right now in terms of Arum publicly stating that promoters are having a lot of trouble selling tickets. DAZN resorting to Saudi Arabia with all of the kind of backlash that he faced from that. So boxing, it’s an interesting place while it’s still flush with cash, but I think people are beginning to look at what is boxing going to be potentially if these waters from dry a little bit.”
His view of the heavyweight landscape:
“When I think about the heavyweight landscape, what intrigues me about it is it was presented by promoters – it was packaged as a modern golden era. And increasingly it’s seeming even less perhaps than the era that the nineties represented in the heavyweight division. Which was promising. You had a lot of very interesting prospects. I mean, a lot of people from that era, you and I especially remember the Night of the Heavyweights that HBO put on. A young David Tua knocks out John Ruiz in one round. So, it never happened again for John Ruiz. I wish some more people could have done it because it would have opened up some fights we wanted to see. But, we were introduced to a lot of very promising guys. I remember in the nineties, Michael Grant showing up and he had sort of the same nucleus that Tyson did and he’s a destroyer and he’s even more large than a modern heavyweight.
And what’s he gonna do? And then we put him in there with Lennox Lewis and he’s flattened. I think something like that is seeming a lot more possible with the heavyweights in terms of Wilder. While nobody’s questioning this guy’s one of the greatest finishers that the heavyweight division has ever seen, or at least has some of the greatest power that we’ve ever seen. But at, what does he, 32 now, maybe 33, maybe 34. But not a spring chicken and a record that’s not exactly crammed full of Hall of Famers. And, when you put them in there with stiff competition, if anybody’s able to avoid being knocked out, they could win pretty decidedly. You know, decisions against him. As I think Fury was. I think a lot of people saw it that way. I thought he won. He had a pretty clear decision in there despite two very impressive knockdowns that while they’re scored.
Joshua in this rematch, I think what was really interesting with Ruiz is he did get vindication, but he also vindicated, I think his critics, because I think they saw somebody who showed a lot of fragility, a lot of caution, was losing exchanges that he was engaging in. And it’s very odd to see a guy of that size with that ability running on his back foot the whole time against not just the dad bod, but a morbidly obese, even more so than the first go-round – 283 pounds. And, Joshua looked fragile. And I don’t know that we’re going to get the Joshua back who fought Klitschko. So if that guy’s gone, if the shine is a little bit off Wilder, as a result of two fights with Ortiz and one fight against Tyson Fury. And Tyson Fury seems quite inconsistent in who’s showing up despite full credit for what he did against Wilder – similarly against Klitschko. But you never know what your (getting), it’s a crapshoot every time he comes into the ring. Maybe these guys are not going to produce any real iconic fights. And even if they do, I think that people were talking about this building into massive pay-per-views. It seems a little ludicrous at this point that you hear it from both camps with and Fury,”
On the year that Canelo had:
“I think for better or worse, and I mean, there are some issues with this comparison. A lot of people look at what he did to Kovalev and compared it to Andre Ward. They said, yeah, okay. Andre Ward got Kovalev when he was undefeated and he really was a pound for pound sort of terror, but Canelo was a much more convincing victory, knockout. I mean it wasn’t using the testicles of Kovalev as a speed bag. He didn’t look in danger in the way that Ward was early on in the first fight getting dropped. I just thought it was commanding. It was a dominant performance with a blistering, iconic possible knockout of the year to take out Kovalev. I mean, it was devastating. So I think he’s making a very strong argument, not just resting on his laurels with who he’s fought – this incredible resume throughout his career.
Incredible amount of activity for such a young guy. I mean, not 30 yet. Still, there’s so many fights. I mean fighting sort of like the old school guys did and he is improving still it seems. Or if he’s not improving, he’s shrewd enough in who his opponent is that he gives that impression. I mean there’s something electric about what he did against Kovalev and I agree taking a tough, tough opponent in Danny Jacobs. So I think you have to give him a lot of credit for not just what he’s doing, but who he’s choosing, how he’s managing his career. And you know, Andre Ward in fighting Kovalev when he was still perhaps more dangerous. I dunno. I thought Kovalev still look very dangerous. I think some people after the fights, it’s easy to say he was a shell of himself, but I mean, Kovalev killed a man with this punches.”
On what happens when the current spending spree by the networks ends:
“I think what we’re seeing is, and we’re going to see a lot more of it, is the income inequality that’s going to become a dominant theme in boxing. It’s going to get a lot worse when the money, this influx of weird money that’s in there right now, silly money, once it’s gone and these guys are forced to take tough fights in order to earn paychecks remotely commensurate with what they’re getting now. It’s going to be a weird landscape, I think soon.”