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Jared Anderson: The Future Face of Boxing?

The sport of boxing has always produced stars. From Muhammad Ali, to Sugar Ray Leonard, to Mike Tyson, to Oscar De La Hoya, to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, boxing has often had one star that rose above the rest of their counterparts and became a household name around the world. At the peak of their powers, all of those men were considered the “face of boxing”. Undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has been the face of the sport recently, and there are a few candidates to take over for him in the near future. Lightweight superstar Gervonta “Tank” Davis is in the driver’s seat to take the torch as boxing’s top attraction due to his explosive knockout power, and his victory over Ryan Garcia in April that put more eyeballs on him than ever before.

The heavyweight division has long been known as the glamour division in boxing. The division is in a weird spot at the moment, with the guys at the top not being as active as we would like and with the inability to make an undisputed fight a reality. Current champions Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, along with former champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are all in their 30s and closer to the end of their careers than the beginning.

Jared Anderson, a 23-year-old rising heavyweight from Toledo, Ohio, has been a breath of fresh air in an aging and inactive heavyweight division. Most American heavyweights start boxing late and played other sports growing up. Though they have all the physical tools, their limitations become evident the higher that they step up in opposition. Jared is the exception. He’s boxed since he was a child and possesses skills that are rare for a heavyweight, and I often refer to him as a middleweight fighter in a heavyweight’s body. The way he sets himself up using his jab to the head and body, as well as the way he throws combinations are not something we are used to seeing from a 6’3″ 240+lb heavyweight. He has passed the “eye test” with flying colors thus far, and is now ready to take on higher caliber opponents on his seemingly inevitable rise to a heavyweight title fight.

To be the face of boxing, you need to have appeal inside and outside of the ring. For a young guy, Anderson seems to fully understand what it takes to become a star. He has a fan-friendly style and is an entertaining personality inside and outside of the ring. His walkouts are always interesting, and he has used them to reach out and connect with many different people from different generations and backgrounds. He is fighting in his first ESPN main event this weekend in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, which is a great opportunity for him to continue to grow his fanbase.

He was originally set to face undefeated Kazakh Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-0, 18 KOs), but Kossobutskiy was forced to withdraw from the bout due to issues obtaining a visa. He is now matched up with Charles Martin (29-3-1, 26 KOs), a long-time American heavyweight who briefly held the IBF heavyweight title back in 2016. Martin is as quality of an opponent as you can get on 11 days notice, being a former world champion and someone taller, longer, and heavier than Anderson is. I do expect Anderson to win the fight by knockout, but Martin is the first guy he’s been in with that can make him pay if he loses focus for even a split second. Against another southpaw in Jerry Forrest (26-6-2, 20 KOs), Anderson was hit by a few straight left hands early in the first round but quickly settled in and punished the well-respected veteran, stopping him in the second round. If he gets caught cold early tomorrow night, Charles Martin has the kind of firepower that could make things interesting and give Jared some adversity to overcome.

Jared Anderson has all the tools to become not only the best heavyweight in the world, but also boxing’s biggest star. In a Top Rank ESPN special done with Roy Jones Jr, the two spoke on how to deal with some of the struggles that come with having all these expectations and hype surrounding you from a young age. In an interview with FightHub TV, Anderson also mentioned how he doesn’t have as much “love” for the sport as other fighters and is looking to provide for his family and get out of the sport as soon as possible. Many see that as a negative, but anytime Jared speaks on his motivations it is always to create a better life for his family and to be able to offer them generational wealth which will motivate you more than any love for a certain sport could. Though there is a lot of pressure on him, especially coming home for his first-ever main event, I have all the confidence in the world that Jared will show greatness tomorrow and in each of his fights going forward.

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Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly