FOR as long as a world champion is winning, they can expect to be surrounded by a gaggle of men who think nothing of wearing tracksuits emblazoned with the boxer’s name, who laugh at every one of the boxer’s jokes, and who follow the boxer from room to room because of some irrational fear of missing out.
Lose, however, and this circle of sycophants will quickly dwindle. The main attraction will be deemed not quite so appealing, his kit not quite so cool, and his whereabouts no longer a cause for concern.
In the case of Anthony Joshua, a 30-man support network/entourage/sounding board has been widely criticised following his shocking defeat to Andy Ruiz Jnr on June 1. It remains to be seen how many will stick around but Tyson Fury, Joshua’s main British rival, believes Joshua’s next move, before he even thinks about fighting Ruiz again, should be a mass culling of those whose jobs are hard to define.
“He needs to get shot of every arse-kisser around him,” Fury told the Telegraph.
“Because in this game, there’s no space for ‘yes’ men. There’s no pats on the back, bagmen.
“Like his dad said, he needs to get a bit smarter and listen to people who care, not to people who are around him for a free ride. I think the invincibility factor is gone. People know now if they clip him, he’s gone.”
Regarding the entourage, Fury certainly has a point. After all, Joshua, though once a three-belt world champion, is still seemingly at the early stages of his pro career – or, at best, the midpoint – yet finds himself surrounded by the kind of supporting cast more commonly found wiping the brow and backside of a Hall-of-Fame-bound, multi-division world champion.
It stands to reason, of course, given the ungodly amounts of money Joshua generates every time he fights, but there’s a danger all the same that a determined and hungry prizefighter is softened by the dispositions of those with whom he or she chooses to spend their time. It happens.
IBF mandatory challenger Kid Galahad isn’t planning on outpointing Josh Warrington or cruising to victory when the pair meet at the First Direct Arena in Leeds this Saturday (June 15).
Instead, though known as a fleet-footed boxer, Galahad wants to make an impression on Warrington, leave no doubt, and make the fight so one-sided no rematch is necessary. Above all else, he wants to gain the IBF featherweight champion’s respect.
“This is destiny for me. I’ve trained 16 years of my life to get to this point and will not be denied,” the Sheffield man told Sky Sports.
“He’s never boxed anyone like me before, especially from a mental aspect. He has no respect for me at the minute, but after the fight, he definitely will. I’m not going in there to nick the title; I’m going in there to rip it away from him.
“I went over to Boston to fight Toka Kahn Clary and got booed in his hometown. It is what it is. Inside that ring, you’re just focused. You don’t care about what’s going on outside. Nothing will make me lose focus.”
There is definitely a sense Galahad, 26-0 (15), possesses all the requisite qualities to make him a potential banana skin opponent for Warrington. Loose and languid, boasting that Wincobank awkwardness, he is undefeated in 26 fights and hasn’t lost many rounds, let alone fights, along the way. He has also called for opportunities against the likes of Warrington, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg for some time now, believing he possesses the skills to wreck the ambitions of more popular fighters.
That being said, Warrington did manage to get the better of Galahad twice in the amateur ranks and will no doubt be fuelled by confidence heading into this weekend’s clash.
“I was 18 years old when we fought in the amateurs. It’s completely different,” said Galahad. “With three rounds of two minutes, anyone can beat anybody.
“The professional format is very different. It’s like chess over 12 rounds. We will see what happens when we get in there.
“I don’t think he will underestimate me but, if he does, it’s going to be a very bad beating.”