The Boxing Esq. Podcast, Ep. 40: Boxing writer Brin-Jonathan Butler looks forward to 2020
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 got their crystal balls out and looked ahead to the new year 2020. They spoke about what next year may hold in store for all of the divisions from heavyweight through bantamweight and much more.
Below are a few excerpts from the interview:
On what 2020 will look like for the Heavyweights – Wilder vs. Fury II (and possibly III):
“Especially given Wilder’s explosive punching power (and) what that could do to Fury – given that Fury coming back to sort of have the first fight that he put on was a miracle. People were talking about it as one of the great comebacks of the 21st century. It might’ve been kind of a one-off, that he’s capable of that kind of performance. If (Wilder) “Michael Spinks’s” him, then it would be like, uh, okay. What we’re desperate to see the rubber match? No, I don’t think so. So it’s very odd to hear that (there’s a third fight planned) before we know.
I mean the first fight was very interesting. I think it presented us with some of the best of Wilder, some of the worst of Wilder. It was not a slugfest and Fury looked relatively dominant and sort of controlling the action. Giving Wilder a world of problems. All those people who say Wilder is so limited, the footwork is abysmal.
Watching Wilder spar was one of the most arresting, surreal experiences of my life covering boxing. He demonstrated footwork that I have not seen that dexterity since being in a nursing home, watching somebody recovering from a stroke, pushing a walker. There are moments where Wilder, you’re watching him where he makes George Foreman at his most lethargic look like Cassius clay. It’s just, what is happening?!
Wilder did not look good in either of (the Ortiz) fights, for most of those fights. But as is the case, how did those fights finish is the sort of lasting image that becomes what our big takeaway is. And I think you can play it that way, but it could also be perhaps more instructive to look at what led us there, which is he’s being outboxed, outworked by a 900-year-old Cuban basically a totem pole.”
On Anthony Joshua:
“I just wonder are people gonna start coming at Joshua the way Ruiz did. Has it created a blueprint where everybody recognized, including Joshua, that the chin is weak and that your best chance is to come at him guns blazing? To get in exchanges with him because you can outwork him and you can discourage and you can break his will and he’s cautious now. He’s aware of some weaknesses and fragility and when you’re fighting to survive, you’re a very different fighter than when you’re fighting a win. Let alone close the show. He was a close the show kind of fighter. He had that kind of confidence. I don’t know that he’s ever going to get it back. Once you take it, like I think Kevin Rooney said, Mike Tyson’s first professional trainer, that once a fighter who’s gone into the ring who is afraid gains confidence and fights bravely, they don’t go back.
They don’t lose that bravery. And you saw with Buster Douglas, when Buster Douglas gets knocked down, he’d already turned into a brave fighter after that first round and he slams his fist into the canvas. Like, fuck, you know, like, I screwed up, but I’m going to get this guy kind of thing. In my view, when I watched it, as I see Tyson look at that and go, well, I’m not a brave guy right now. He’s turning me into a cowardly fighter. I’m looking for a way out of this. I thought I just won it and I don’t want to be here anymore. And when I look at Joshua, I’m seeing somebody, I don’t know that he wants to be there anymore. He’s got enough money. He’s done enough things where he can have a very happy life outside of boxing. I think he is looking at his own fragility.”
On Andy Ruiz:
“I’d like to say that he could make some kind of big profound turnaround, but in most cases, people do what’s easiest and what they want to do. And his body is very much a big billboard of what kind of life he wants to live, which is pleasure. You know? And so I’d be amazed if this is some stark paradigm shift for him. But I like what he represented in the first fight. It’s just, I wonder how much this injures his pride that now the other aspect of his legacy is that this really undermines the first achievement and he very quickly is just a punchline.
I think he enjoys himself a lot. But in terms of success and efficacy and taking on what’s necessary, fear is a good motivator. Contentment, not so much.”
On what 2020 will look like for the Cruiserweights:
“I think Dorticos is really fun to watch. And that’s the only fight (Breidis vs. Dorticos in the WBSS final). I mean it’s always been a tough division to really be compelling even for hardcore fans.”