EXTRA! EXTRA! The big, dopey heavyweights are back!
Man do I love me a good, jiggly-titted heavyweight slap-fest. Dudes who look like your middle school gym teacher, or your dad’s friend Rick, just throwing slow-motion bombs without a care in the world beyond wrapping things up before Arby’s closes. The kind where guys hike their trunks up above their solar plexus because they remembered far too late in the day that they chose a vocation that requires them to be shirtless and there’s no amount of creative lighting that can mask a lifetime’s worth of Frito-related mishaps. I love it so much.
Heavyweight boxing is like sex and pizza; the sloppier it is, the better, and if it’s done right your guts should be sore in the morning.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy skill and ring IQ and blah blah blah, but two fat guys with stretch marks and a glove box so full of maxed-out Old Country Buffet loyalty cards that it barely closes will always have my heart.
The heavyweight division, as it currently stands, is very clearly divided into three tiers. Tier 1 is Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua*. Tier 2 is guys who someday might beat Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua. Tier 3 is everybody else.
*You’re gonna be tempted to message me and go “[maximum dumb guy voice]…but what about Deontay Wilder?!!!” and the answer is obviously that they don’t let you fight when you’re strapped to a gurney inside a rubber room with a bunch of puzzled therapists staring down at their empty clipboards. Until he can pass a psych eval he’s a non-factor
Of those three tiers, which one do you think Otto Wallin and Dominic Breazeale fall into? I’ll save you the suspense; it’s the big, gooey middle and that feels rather appropriate.
When Wallin (22-1, 14 KO) and Breazeale (20-3, 18 KO) squared off Saturday night on a Showtime-televised card from The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, it was more or less for gatekeeper bragging rights and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is boxing so of course there was some title or another in the balance but no sane person is questioning whether either of these two has what it takes to join the elite of the division. They absolutely do not.
But here’s the thing; most fighters don’t. To pound out a living, with limited skill, in the toughest sport on earth is very much an accomplishment in and of itself. To entertain a crowd and get paid handsomely to do so, beats the hell out of punching a clock down at the construction site.
Over 12 lumbering and oftentimes ugly rounds, Wallin thumped out a decisive victory over Breazeale by scores of 117-111, 118-110, and 116-112. The fight was upbeat, sloppy, and loud. Every connection of leather and chub echoed through the mostly-empty arena like a kidney stone passed into the grand canyon. Breazeale’s footwork resembles that of a man duct-taped to a Segway and Wallin was able to push him off a cliff more than a few times. It was just as messy and violent as you’d want it to be and that’s just fine with me.
There’s a perception in boxing that if you’re not the best you’ve somehow failed. Despite being reductively flawed logic, it’s also just kinda dumb. Dominic Breazeale, Otto Wallin, and the countless other mid-tier fighters who we snidely label “journeymen,” get their paychecks signed by doing something they love. The food on their tables is paid for with black eyes and bloody toilets. That’s not nothing.
Guys like Wallin and Breazeale won’t ever be household names or make it to the hall of fame. They’ll likely never win a major title or see a seven-figure payday. But they’ll make a living lacing up, chucking gloves, and making their comically oversized boobs jiggle.
And weirdos like you and me will be there to watch.
After all, isn’t that kind of the point?