So last weekend we finally got the "Clash on the Dunes", or as I've chosen to dub it "The diarrhoea in Diriyah". The show will be long remembered for the feel good moment of Anthony Joshua having his hand raised as the winner, but in reality the card was a turgid mess of unprofessionalism, terrible work from DAZN and Sky, and we suspect few will remember much from the show, other than 1 standout support bout, and Joshua regaining his titles.
After previous articles about the cost, £25 for a PPV with only 2 competitive bouts is frankly a joke, and the amount of fighters with failed drugs tests on the show, 1 is too many and 4 is taking the piss, we went into the show with a bad taste in our mouths. It's a shame several of the fighters on the card couldn't keep food out of theirs, had they done so the card may have been interesting. At least some what interesting.
Before getting on to some of the over weight and out of shape fighters in the Heavyweight bouts lets take a moment to focus on the smaller men.
On paper Zuhayr Al Qahtani vs Omar Dusary was a good looking bout, and whilst it wasn't an amazing bout it was a bout that ticked all the boxes. It was well matched, it was interesting enough and did it's job. Absolutely no complaints with this bout.
The 4 rounder between Majid Al Naqbi and Ilia Beruashvili is one we don't have many complaints about, though Ian John Lewis really doesn't strike us as being a capable referee at all. The refereeing of Lewis was question more for 2 other bouts he was involved in, Ivan Hopey Price's win over Swedi Mohamed, where John jumped in way too early, and a Heavyweight bout we'll talk about in a few moments.
We couldn't really see any reason to have Diego Pacheco vs Selemani Saidi as a swing bout between the two most interesting fights on the card. It slowed down the show, which was at a high point for a neutral fan, to see a top prospect blow out someone who shouldn't have been in the ring with him. Had Pacheco been on earlier in the night we wouldn't have minded too much, but the placement on the card was all odd, and a poor choice.
So, on to the Heavyweight action.
Mahammadrasul Majidov genuinely impressed us with his win over Tom Little. Certain Sky pundits may not agree but the reality is that Majidov took a round to figure his man out, then moved through the gears and did what he was supposed to. At 33 Majidov does need to be moved quickly, but given that David Price was 35 when he stopped Little this isn't a bad bout for this stage in Majidov's career. As long as he steps up next time out.
Sadly Ian John Lewis completely lost the plot and lost control when he refereed the Heavyweight clash between Filip Hrgovic and Eric Molina. Hrgovic, a fantastic prospect, deserves better tests than a 37 year old "Drummer Boy" who has has 2 wins in 3 fucking years! Molina, coming in almost 10lbs heavier than he was in his 2015 clash with Doentay Wilder and 16lbs heavier than he was in a career best win over Tomasz Adamek didn't look like he wanted to be there. It almost seemed like he was owed a favour by someone and was on the show as a favour. Terrible effort from Molina, awful refereeing and a terrible way to "progress" Hrgovic's career.
I don't want to hear excuses from fans telling me that Dillian Whyte and Mariusz Wach were matched at short notice as that is not an excuse for the farce we got. Whyte, who had only been cleared of a doping charge a day earlier, came in 12lbs heavier than he was just 5 months ago. He wasn't just a career heaviest but was almost 25lbs heavier than he had been for his second bout with Dereck Chisora a year earlier. To his credit Wach had come to the ring like a fighter. He wasn't in the shape of his career, but he at least resembled an athlete. Wach's will a saving factor in a bout that had Sergio Mora almost orgasaming on DAZN with some of the worst commentary I've ever heard.
Whilst on the subject of Mora, I'm really not sure if he's paid as a commentator or a cheerleader, but on the evidence of this show he really was a cheerleader. If he's going to continue this role, we really should have him dressed in a tutu and with pom poms. It would be a stark improvement from the absolute garbage he was spewing out during this show. Garbage that included the suggestion that Dillian Whyte Vs Joseph Parker would be a good fight, as if they hadn't already fought.
Whilst Whyte took the win over Wach he did little to suggest he was a professional athlete. In fact we're not sure what was on offer in Diriyah but Whyte's shape wasn't the only that could be described as "round", something we'll get on to in a few moments.
Alexander Povetkin and Michael Hunter...MAN WHAT A FIGHT! This was something worthy of attention, and delivered. It was hotly contested, with regular momentum shifts, both fighters adjusting through out the bout and putting on a fantastic, even fight. At 40 Povetkin showed stamina limitations in the later stages, and looked like he struggled massively in the final few rounds. He was also out-sped in the early stages as Hunter started in a fashion that suggested he wanted to blow out the Russian. Povetkin steadied the ship and fought back in the middle rounds before fading. With this ending in a draw, as controversial as that might have been, if left the door open to a rematch in 2020. If we see this one again next year we'll be happy!
Now on to the main event. If we can call it that. Whilst Whyte came in at a career heaviest, and had breasts bigger than some pornstars, he looked svelte compared to world champion Andy Ruiz, who was attempting to score his second win over Anthony Joshua. Ruiz had managed to put on 15lbs since shocking the world in June, when he stopped Joshua in their first fight. He has never been a fighter who looked in shape, so to add extra weight to his already chubby frame was a worry. That extra weight gave him absolutely no advantages and made it even harder to cut the distance between himself and Jsohua.
As for Joshua he really did seem to be inspired by Wladimir Klitschko, using his size and reach well, maintaining the distance with excellent foot work and put on a really controlled display over 12 rounds to take a clear win. Unlike Klitschko fights however there never seemed to be the moment where Joshua went for the finish. Whilst Klitschko fights were often dull, you always knew he could finish a fight when he let that thunderbolt right hand go. There was nothing similar here, with Joshua fighting in a style that really made the bout dramaless. Yes there was good reason for it, but it doesn't change the fact that the bout was...tedious to watch.
Given the pre-show issues, and the the forgettable action on the show, this is not one that will live on long in the memory. Hopefully Whyte and Ruiz will begin to take the sport seriously, Hrgovic and Majidov will step up, Ian John Lewis will stop getting big opportunities, Sergio Mora will learn to do a backflip, a cartwheel and scream a little louder, and this was just a 1-off game plan from Joshua.
Sadly however we suspect Ruiz will continue to eat his way out of contention, Whyte will be as unpredictable as ever, maybe even making former rival Dereck Chisora seem consistent, Joshua will work on this winning plan, and Sergio Mora will remain a nightmare to listen too, in fact neither DAZN or Sky commentary covered themselves in any positive light.
One other take away was that the commentary on WOWOW was excellent, and if you get a chance to watch the Japanese broadcast, I would seriously suggest you give it a go. The commentary there was sublime, with pauses, well placed silences and excitement that met the action. Commentary is an art form and the men behind the mics at WOWOW were masters.
One other thing to question is why exactly did they play "Sweet Caroline" here? As a genuine Neil Diamond fan, I wish I was joking there, it seemed like a stupid inclusion here. It's a song that can only be full appreciated with copious amounts of alcohol in the system, and with Saudi Arabia being a dry country the song went down like a wet fart on Christmas day.
Thankfully I'll never need to mention this show again!
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces