Anthony Joshua, Manny Pacquiao and Vitali Klitschko were among the boxers shocked by their late replacement opponents in boxing. As one heavyweight champion saw his payday with Mike Tyson end in a disappointing defeat,
Robert Helenius stepped in to fight AJ as a substitute to replace Dillian Whyte with less than a week’s notice in London. But there are many boxers who cause chaos by surprise.
It usually happens when an elite boxer is preparing for a boxing match, but is suddenly confronted with an opponent who has a completely different style. Motivation could be a factor. But sometimes late substitutes are much better than expected.
Joshua knew this better than anyone. Britain’s two-time heavyweight world champion will have his own personal groundhog day this week. Because he had been through such an almost certain situation before. with dreadful consequences
For his 2019 US debut, AJ was supposed to face sassy American Jarrell Miller. Only ‘Big Baby’ failed the VADA drug test, promoter Eddie Hearn regretted not dragging a bouncer in local NYC. Off the streets to fight for his honor trophy.
Instead of Andy Ruiz, the heavyweight looks more dangerous on the breakfast buffet than Joshua. Ruiz also has quick hands and good skill. As he demonstrated in recovering from a crash, he famously stopped AJ with a very upset head.
AJ dominated the competition. But one heavyweight who never got the same second chance was the ‘terrible’ Tim Witherspoon in 1986. ‘Spoon had to defend his world title once. And he’ll pay for it in life: a unified fight against ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, who last month knocked Trevor Berbick in two rounds.
Witherspoon’s opponent Tony Tubbs pulled out with a shoulder injury and was replaced by undefeated ‘Terrible Tim’ boxer James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith. But rematching is a different story. Smith lunges at Witherspoon and scores a first-round KO.
‘Bonecrusher’ earned a big payout, losing to Tyson in Las Vegas, while the gifted but erratic Witherspoon never faced ‘Iron Mike’ in the ring.
However, sympathize with Lehlo Ledwaba and the nightmare the super bantamweight champion went through in 2001. The South African is training to defend his seventh world title, but when Enrique Sanchez withdraws, he accepts the Filipino. raw in the .
Manny Pacquiao, 22, has a 32-to-2 record and has never fought outside of Asia. He was only in the US training for a few weeks. But with Ledwaba, an opponent is urgently needed. Pacquiao received a call 24 hours before he flew back to the Philippines.
What was supposed to be a showcase of Ledwaba’s skills turned out to be one for his opponent. A skinny Pacquiao terrorizes champion Ledwaba with lightning speed. Dynamic Aggression and the insidious left hand
After a unilateral knockout in the sixth round, Pacquiao earned his first victory on American soil and – although no one knew at the time – one of the greatest careers in boxing history truly took off.
“He was a late substitute for Sanchez – I watched his fight on tape and he looked ferocious!” said the brutal Ledwaba later. “His trainer. [Freddie Roach] Works well in the gym.”
Adapting quickly to a new type of opponent is why many world champions are wary of replacing them in the latter. Lennox Lewis was preparing for the 6ft 2in Kirk Johnson in 2003 when the Canadian. withdrew with a chest injury
With courage, Lewis accepted the powerful and awkward 6ft 7in Vitali Klitschko on weeks’ notice – and nearly paid the price for Vitali bludgeoning Lennox over and over again. And both had horrific scraps left before Klitschko was horribly slashed over Klitschko’s eye which ended the fight with Vitali ahead on the scorecard.
That bout renewed Vitali’s reputation after he accidentally got upset for not turning himself in. In 2000, Klitschko’s eldest brother was supposed to fight Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock, but when he backed off, Chris Byrd Under the slippery steps
Vitali won the fight with Byrd, but when Klitschko tore his rotator cuff and opted out of the fight. Causing boos from the crowd, Byrd was suddenly the victor and world champion. without having ever even fought before
Likewise, Pacquiao, named as the last substitute his career ended all alone, ‘Pacman’ was slated to fight Errol Spence in 2021 until a retinal tear gave Spence no chance.
Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas was freed – coincidentally because his own opponent was also injured. He stepped in and scored the decisive win over 42-year-old Pacquiao, who wisely retired after that.
Ugas was defeated by Spence the next bout, but sometimes a delayed standoff would cost him the victory. Welsh ‘Cinderellaman’ Steve Robinson was called up in two days. And had to lose 6 pounds in 48 hours to face John. Davison of England for the 122-pound world title in 1993.
But Robinson, who works part-time in a store not only to win He also defended his world title seven times before losing to ‘prince’ Naseem Hamed outdoors at Cardiff Arms Park.
Barry McGuigan was shockingly defeated in the Nevada Heat by Steve Cruz, Victor Ortiz whose jaw was broken by Josesito Lopez, Rocky Juarez lost the featherweight title to Humberto Soto – each of these bouts also had a replacement. short notice form to pull away the upset
Then there’s Geordie Shore’s Aaron Chalmers, who came in to fight Floyd Mayweather in this year’s exhibition after Liam Harrison withdrew only to defeat Floyd, which… OK, that certainly didn’t happen.
Obviously, there are limits to what standing in line can do. Helenius, 39, fought in Finland last week. Then there’s a long way to go to add to the misery for AJ with another shock. But late substitutions will always frighten promoters and boxers aside. Because you never know what you’ll get.
Joshua vs Helenius live and free on talkSPORT on Saturday August 12.
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