Chris Algieri's School of Thought: Anderson could prove the new-age heavyweight who has it all

I’m a huge fan of Jared Anderson – I’m really bullish about his prospects of being a star in the heavyweight division.

He could be in the NFL – he’s that kind of athlete. Boxing’s lost a lot of those types of athletic talents to other sports, because there’s a lot more money in, for example, basketball or football, and there’s also a more defined route into both.

Anderson, at heart, is, regardless, a fighter. Top Rank are the best in the world at developing prospects, but this weekend’s fight with Charles Martin, at the Huntington Center in Toledo, is a big step up for him. Martin’s another very good athlete who could easily have been involved in another sport. He can also punch, and is a southpaw, so there are various step-up factors to this fight. 

The last time America was as excited about one of its heavyweights in the way it is with Anderson was when Deontay Wilder was on his way up. Wilder’s actually lived up to the hype time and time again – he’s been an excellent fighter and legitimate world champion.

“Fast” Eddie Chambers was, for a period, an American heavyweight who was attracting attention. He had fast hands but he wasn’t a big puncher, and didn’t have the same athleticism Anderson’s showing. He was a good fighter – a solid contender – but didn’t have that extra talent to cross over.

Seth Mitchell was a big, tough fighter, but while he was athletic for his size, Anderson’s athletic for a fighter of any size. Martin won the IBF title, but never looked born to be a boxer. 

Anderson is. His movement, endurance, explosiveness, power and speed – combined with the fact he has that dog in him and wants to produce spectacular performances – is something we’ve rarely seen.

Tyson Fury’s used him as a sparring partner, and he told me Anderson’s defence, awareness and reactions are unreal. That really brought him to my attention – I hadn’t seen that defence. I’d seen him fight and him get hit cleanly, which worried me, but having the type of defence he was described as having can be the difference between being a good fighter and a champion – between being among almost everyone else and reaching the upper echelons of the sport.

After a period when American fight fans had less of an interest in the heavyweight division, Wilder and Fury, and their epic trilogy, have helped to revive it. Wilder’s style of fighting, attitude and larger-than-life personality got everyone excited; Fury, who has the gift of the gab and is a performer, is also loved in the US.

Chris Algieri's School of Thought: Anderson could prove the new-age heavyweight who has it all
Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Recent footage of Anderson with Roy Jones Jr showed Anderson being open and emotional about the pressure he’s under. He’s the next saviour of the American heavyweights, and at 23 that’s a lot on his shoulders. 

When you’re a heavyweight there’s money surrounding you, because of your potential. If you then make money in a big fight everyone around you is also going to make money, so hangers-on and growing entourages are attracted, which in turn increases that pressure. 

When I fought I relished the spotlight – my best performances came when I was under the most scrutiny. I struggled at a lower level because I didn’t have the pressure I needed; I liked the eyes on me and wanted the attention and wanted to feel that in the pit of my stomach. Anderson showing that side of him in that footage doesn’t matter – it’s how he performs when it counts that does. It also showed that he takes what he does seriously, and understands the gravity of his position and what he could be on the cusp of. 

If what I’ve been told about his defence, reactions and athleticism proves true we could be looking at a heavyweight – maybe even a new-age heavyweight – like very few of us have seen. He looks capable of doing it all.

Martin’s a tough fight – the match-up concerns me a little on Anderson’s behalf – but if Anderson wins he moves from being a prospect to becoming a contender. The most important thing might even be how quickly he is moved. There’s no need for him to rush – sometimes today we’re seeing young fighters being stepped up quickly because all of their fights are televised – and it might be better for him to progress more steadily.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was once that prospect under that type of scrutiny, and today he’s the face of boxing. His reported move to Premier Boxing Champions, and into a fight with Jermall Charlo, is really exciting.

That fight might have been more interesting two years ago, but it’s still a big fight against a big name. Charlo’s a capable, dangerous and fantastic champion, and one who brings a specific skill set that Canelo’s going to have to figure out.

Through him being with PBC the fights after that can include the one I and the fans want – Canelo-David Benavidez. There’s also Demetrius Andrade, Errol Spence – who we’re expecting to move up in weight – and the dangerous David Morrell. There’s a lot of great fights involving him that can be made.

His profile means that if he’s moved to a new promoter and network from Matchroom and DAZN, that new promoter and network are in the driving seat. It’s a huge signing – the next year or two will be led by PBC, who also already have the Charlos, Spence, Stephen Fulton and Gervonta Davis. Fighters who have already been involved in, or are about to be involved in, fights that really matter.