Johnny Nelson breaks down AJ-Wallin, Wilder-Parker, Dubois-Miller and Bivol-Arthur
Boxer-turned-pundit, Johnny Nelson MBE, spoke to BBN's Editor, Tim Rickson, on behalf of Grosvenor Sport, to give a detailed analysis of the bumper 'Day of Reckoning' card going down this weekend in Saudi Arabia.
The 56-year-old record-breaking cruiserweight world champion spoke in-depth about the main fights on the bumper card in Riyadh, and predicted that one would end in an upset.
Here's what he had to say:
First of all, congratulations on the MBE, how was that day for you?
"Thank you, it was an amazing day, it's something you can't buy, borrow or pretend to have. I think it's an amazing accolade and it was lovely being able to take my daughters there and it's good to carry on with Brendan Ingle’s legacy, if not through him, through myself."
So, this weekend obviously loads of fights on the card. If I first start off with Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin, how do you see that fight going?
"I think AJ knocks Wallin out.
"I think a lot of people are making a lot about Wallin being a southpaw and AJ's mental state. I think AJ has got the spiky chip on his shoulder, that edge back about him again and we saw that in the press conference.
"He's out there in Saudi now and Miller is getting in his face disrespecting him publicly, and he needs to be taken out of his comfort zone and put in that position, to get this spiky edge back. Be the fighter that got in there with Dillian Whyte, have that mentality.
"Skill wise, he’s developed, but he needs a mentality. He's got to be spiteful. He's got to have a chip on his shoulder. He's got to fight like that. And I think the condition that he’s in now in Saudi with everybody around him, it's either going to make him or break him. I think it's going to be the best thing for him because he's taken out of his comfort zone. Now we has to fight for his supper, it's not a given. He's not surrounded by people that are going to be nice to him because he’s AJ because there's a lot of egos out there at the moment, in the same building, in the same camp, in the same cage.
"So I think he knocks out Wallin and gets the job done."
AJ having two wins over Wallin already and their history from the amateurs, does that have any bearing on the fight at all?
"No, amateurs and professional mean nothing, all it does is give you that familiarity.
"So, these are big names and so when they meet as professionals, it's a big deal to everybody else, seeing them on a professional stage, but they know each other from sparring, they know what they can do and what they can't do.
"I’ve been knocked out by guys that have been in the amateurs. So, as far as I'm concerned, the amateurs, it just gives them that familiarity."
Do you think his last two opponents – Franklin and Helenius – are going to provide adequate preparation to take him into a potential showdown with Wilder next year?
"He’s got no choice.
"I said at the beginning of the year, AJ doesn't want to get in with Wilder next because, mentally, he's got to believe in his ability. His confidence has got to match his ability, he's not fighting like a guy whose confidence is matching his ability. He needs to get that confidence back in his ability. He needs to go through what he’s got to do.
"So, it's about building blocks and AJ is a two-time heavyweight champ of the world. Therefore, there's no more ‘I'm still learning’, the only learning he’s got to do is learn about himself, and so now he's in the hotseat, beginning with Wilder. The jobs being done, if he's not going to do it now, he's never going to do it."
Talking about Wilder, he's got Joseph Parker next – how do you see that fight going?
"I think Joseph Parker is technically a better fighter.
"Wilder is the biggest puncher in the world, we've seen him knock out guys that are better boxers than him. If Wilder is the fighter he was, because he's not been in action, so we're going on what we know, then Wilder gets rid of Parker, he knocks him out.
"I think Joseph Parker, even though you have the boxing ability, I think he's too small, his arms aren't long enough to keep Wilder off him."
So you don't think Tyson Fury can give him that blueprint on how to win?
"No, I think looking at physical attributes, if you've got someone that’s got longer arms and punching power and is taller and ranging, they were always Wilder’s advantage over fighters. He couldn't do that with Tyson Fury because Tyson was bigger and longer. So therefore, he came up against somebody that you needed boxing ability to navigate yourself around and he didn't have that. So, it proved to me that he has a boxing punch ability, but not the boxing ability.
"So Joseph Parker has got to be cute enough, smart enough to try and get in and get out, try and outbox him, do him that way. We've seen that happen before where fighters have tried to do this with Wilder, and Wilder’s caught them, even if he’s been behind on points.
"So, as I said, if Wilder was the fighter he was, let's just say two years or whatever it was, prior to getting manhandled by Tyson Fury, I think he knocks out Parker."
Another match on the card featuring a British heavyweight, is Daniel Dubois vs Jarrell Miller – how do you see that one?
"Jarrell Miller is the world champion trash talker, and he's done his job. Everybody's talking about Jarrell Miller, the press conference there, look at all those faces that were in the press conference. Who are you talking about when it was all over? Miller.
"In training camp in Saudi Arabia, who's the one hitting the headlines? Jarell Miller. So, he's the one best trash talkers out there. But you got to remember, Miller, who has he actually boxed in top tier world level? Nobody, because he's failed a drug test or whatever he's done. But he's talked everybody into believing that ‘I'm a bad man’. He's got everyone to believe in it. So now he's getting in with Daniel Dubois.
"Daniel Dubois, at top level, has proven that he gets turned over. We saw that against Usyk, Joe Joyce, we've seen him get turned over.
"So Daniel Dubois, he’s limited but he’s got punch power. Now if he goes in there with the right tactics, then the questions are to be asked of Miller. What is Miller about? What can he do? How can he deal with Daniel Dubois? Not Daniel Dubois, because Miller's just bulls***ted his way through. We've not seen anything at this level from Miller, so now this is Miller’s chance to introduce himself to the world to say, this is who I am, and this is what I can do.
"I've said it before, Daniel Dubois, he’s great at remembering when he's in a fight, remembering what he has to do in the fight, throw the shot combination, move, but he's not great at thinking in a fight. Thinking on his feet and changing game planning during a fight. This is why if you've got character, if you've got variety about you, if you bring that to a fight with Daniel Dubois, you’re going to beat him. And so, by the sounds of it, Miller has got it, but talk is cheap."
Lyndon Arthur vs Dmitry Bivol, is this going to be a one-sided fight or do you think Arthur has a chance?
"I like Lyndon Arthur, I think it's an amazing opportunity and I'm quite sure his people have said to him, look, if you don't win, you've gained an amazing experience.
"Therefore, that means they don't think he's going to win, I don't think many people think he's going to win. Lyndon is a good fighter, he's not proved himself as a world class fighter, so I think he’ll do himself proud. He will show the levels. If he goes the distance, he's done well, he's proven he can stay in there with the best in the world. Is there any more growth for him? We don't know.
"If he gets stopped, it's the fashion of how that stoppage happens."
Lastly, which fight on the show do you most envisage an upset?
"How the cards built, you've got Jai Opetaia fighting Ellis Zorro, you've got side A set to beat side B, so they can put on an amazing show in March.
"So these fights, I can't see anyone on side A losing.
"If there's a banana skin of the whole night, who would it be on? I'd say Daniel Dubois and Jarrell Miller, because Miller's talking so people are thinking Miller, so that could be the banana skin."
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