Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson might be the next great heavyweight the sport has seen. At least, that is what most fight fans want to believe as he is as promising of a young fighter as we have seen in some time.
In fourteen pro fights, Anderson has stopped every opponent. He has the backing of Top Rank Inc. behind him, and one of the best managers in all of boxing, J Prince guiding his career.
This leads to the x-factor. Talent is only part of the equation. How does a fighter respond to life? Anderson is as talented as anyone in his age range currently, but how will the transition from co-main event fighter to a main event fighter impact his life moving forward?
Anderson, who headlines his first ESPN card in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, though Anderson now is a resident of Houston, Texas, will fight former world champion, Charles Martin, who took the fight on late notice, at the Huntington Center, replacing Anderson’s original opponent of Zhan Kossobutskiy, who had visa issues.
What will the transition of Anderson from an undercard fighter to a main-event fighter look like? As many are tuning in this Saturday, on the Fourth of July weekend to see the birth of the next great American heavyweight.
When looking at the great heavyweights in history often a similar plight is reached. You have a decorated amateur, who wins at the Olympics and emerges as a pro. This story was best told by Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman, then reinvented by Mike Tyson.
For British fight fans, it is the evolution of Lennox Lewis’ journey that played on tropes from Frank Bruno’s run, all the way to the present day of Anthony Joshua, a beloved cultural figure, who occupies a “Sugar” Ray Leonard-type space in the British sporting world ethos.
Anderson is the rare prospect, who has been anointed. He has been labeled great based on the eye test. Not unlike Shakur Stevenson, and Errol Spence Jr., were before him, and not unlike how Keyshawn Davis is being labeled currently.
The expectation for Anderson is nothing short of being a torch barrier for the sport of boxing into the next decade. Though Shakur Stevenson might be the pound-for-pound number-one fighter in the next three years or so, Anderson has a real chance of being the most commercially viable boxer in the sport in the next five years.
ProBox TV News talked to Brad Goodman, the hall-of-fame matchmaker at Top Rank Inc., who sang the praises of Anderson.
“Jared Anderson is another guy, he wants to fight everybody,” said Brad Goodman to ProBox TV News. “We have to hold him down, and calm him down a little bit, but I always said from day one, that if Jared is the guy we all think he can be, and we believe he can - he is going to be the biggest thing in boxing.”
“If he can win a title I think [Jared Anderson] is going to be so huge…It’s the personality, he’s very marketable, has a great smile, let’s see how the attendance is [on July 1st] in Toledo, Ohio when he fights. From what I heard [the ticket sales] are doing tremendous over there.”
A larger-than-life persona. A big man, who behaves like a little kid at times. Wearing funny outfits to the ring, such as dressing up as The Grinch for his holiday season fight against Jerry Forrest, or acting out being incarnated during his walk-out to speak out about prison reform. Anderson is reaching people who don’t tune into boxing; and is having performances that make people want to tune back, i.e. knockouts or viral moments.
Anderson no longer is anonymous. He is no longer the guy who is rumored to have sparred with Tyson Fury well in the gym. Anderson now is a potential multi-million dollar business - and now we as observers are watching how this moment evolves Anderson.
Power and money often reveal the most about someone’s character and intentions. This should be a good entry point into what Anderson’s main event fights will be - and what he wants to become. With all young fighters we now have to ask a simple question; does Anderson want to be rich or does he want to be a legend?
It seems this a big question to ask with all in modern athletics; what are the motivations of the athlete?
Martin is a ‘Buster’ Douglas-like figure in the sport of boxing without the major upset win. Martin is a former world champion, but his path to the title was strange.
Tyson Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko, and the IBF promptly stripped Fury of the title not long after. Something that Fury seemingly still is annoyed with to this day.
On the undercard of Deontay Wilder vs Artur Szpilka, we saw the IBF heavyweight vacant title between then-undefeated Charles Martin facing Vyacheslav Glazkov. It might be the most uneventful heavyweight world title fight in the history of the sport.
Not much happened all two rounds of the fight, as two judges split on the scoring with one favoring Glazkov and another favoring Martin, with one having it a draw - but the scores were meaningless as Glazkov’s leg gave out which we later learned was a torn ACL, and Referee Albert Earl Brown ruled it a knockdown for Charles Martin. Hence Martin became a world champion based on that decision.
Martin would then go overseas and get stopped by Anthony Joshua in two rounds - as that would be Joshua’s first world title win in 2016.
Despite Martin only having three losses in his career, and his deep amateur pedigree, Martin has never gone on a sustained run. A loss to Adam Kownacki in 2018 speaks to this, and despite being in a fun fight with Luis Ortiz bizarrely on pay-per-view in 2022, Martin would inevitably be knocked out by the aging heavyweight Ortiz as well.
Martin’s career isn’t bad by any means, but it also seems to have hit the ceiling at points. This fight on late notice is Martin’s attempt to re-write the past and prove that he is truly one of the greatest heavyweights of the era.
A tall task, but such is boxing. Martin has faced the best - and this is, on paper, the best fighter, Anderson has faced to date. Martin is looking to answer some questions about the trajectory of Anderson’s career on Saturday.