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A rare bit of boxing sanity opens the door for a Joshua-Klitschko rematch

Sports--joshuaBy Kevin Iole

For all of the good things that have occurred in boxing in 2017 – the massive television rating for the Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight; the 90,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium for the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight; the signing of a hotly anticipated middleweight title match between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez; and the 1 million pay-per-view buys sold for the Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bout, among others – an old nemesis has been hanging around.

The threat of mandatory title matches being enforced has threatened matches fans really wanted to see.
But in a rare bit of sanity, the International Boxing Federation relented on forcing Joshua to defend his heavyweight belt against Kubrat Pulev. This opens the door for a rematch of the incredible heavyweight title fight between Joshua and Klitschko sometime later this year.

That fight was everything that is good about boxing, and deserves to be repeated. The fighters, who stand to make millions of dollars, deserve it. So, too, do the fans, as well as promoter Eddie Hearn, who did a fantastic job putting together and staging Joshua-Klitschko I.

On the surface, mandatory title matches appear necessary and in the best interest of fans. No one wants the champion sitting on the belt and avoiding the best opposition.

But because the divisional ratings of boxing’s four major sanctioning bodies are so poor, and the organizations don’t rate another’s champions, it is often the opposite.

Pulev is one of the better heavyweights in the world, and is 25-1 with 13 knockouts. His only defeat was a fifth-round knockout loss to Klitschko in 2014.

But no one could honestly say they’d rather see Pulev fight Joshua for the belt rather than see Joshua rematch Klitschko. Pulev didn’t exactly earn his title shot, either, beating George Arias, Maurice Harris, Dereck Chisora, Samuel Peter and Kevin Johnson since losing to Klitschko.

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