The feedback from Jared Anderson’s tepid 10-round decision over Ryad Merhy was not positive.

Although the American heavyweight contender remained undefeated, the lack of action was a turn-off, and the match was widely condemned.

It did, however, serve a purpose, according to Top Rank president Todd duBoef.

My take-home from that is [that] it’s always good for a prospect to get rounds,” duBoef explained. “I don’t want to say he’s a prospect now, but he’s a guy that’s finding his way each fight as he’s growing in a heavyweight division that is really competitive. 

“[It’s] always good to see the rounds. We love that for the development side. Disappointed that we had opposition that didn’t fire and give him [Anderson] the opportunity to really open up and was moving the way he was moving. 

“So, I think, a little disappointed in what the content was into the network and what showed up in the ring but, ideally, I’d like to have seen the other guy [Merhy] throw more, engage more, have him break him down in a more offensive way. 

“I think you need two guys to fight and we didn’t have one in the opposition.”

Anderson has had issues out of the ring, and in the build-up to the Merhy bout several sportswriters indicated Top Rank needed to keep Anderson busy, away from distractions, and duBoef admitted activity was important for his fighter’s development. Much of the heavyweight division has packed its bags and departed for the big nights in Saudi Arabia, is Anderson going to be the next to go?

“Listen, we have conversations with every venue, every show, we’re gonna figure out if he’s on a Saudi show, we’ll weigh [up] those things, we’ll weigh up when they’ll be. We just want to keep him active, and that’s the most important thing,” duBoef added. “Young guys that are coming into their own, they’re knocking on the doors of titles, keeping a map – don’t let dormancy set, don’t be fighting every 18 months or 12 months. Frequency is always the best, keep them sharp, keep them relevant – people know who they are – so we just want to keep him active and keep him out there.” 

 

Top Rank has lined up showcase events for Anderson, Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez, and while Merhy was negative against Anderson, Stevenson and Lopez were criticized for their bouts against Edwin De Los Santos and Jamaine Ortiz respectively.

The Top Rank braintrust is one of the most respected in the sport, but three main events have failed to fire, how can they guard against that moving forwards?

I don’t know, we talk about it,” duBoef said. “You kind of say, ‘How do you get guys to go?’ 

“Like, how do you get them to put it all out there? We’ve been trying for guys to devalue the loss, you know? Like, ‘It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, we’re still with you’. In the old days, the networks with HBO or Showtime would say, ‘We’re done with you’ and that’s it [if defeated], and that’s how it would go and they all thought that they’d lost, [and] their careers were over. I think the devaluing the loss is one thing – you look at MMA, you see they do a really good job with these fight bonuses or win bonuses. Is there something there? 

“Should we look at this win bonus-model? The way to get these guys engaged, fight, and feel like there’s a prize, right? I mean, it is called prize-fighting. Do we have to bring the prize back to the fighter? So, I don’t know. 

“It’s so hard to get guys… because our intent is to put on incredible, compelling talent, with two game guys who are gonna give it their all. Look at [Robson] Conceicao who ended up fighting [Emanuel] Navarrete to a draw. I mean, he has nine lives! We didn’t throw him away, but look at the performance [stopping Jose Ivan Guardado Ortiz], and it steals the show that night [on the Anderson-Merhy bill] in a terrific fight with him and Navarrete. Efe [Ajagba] and Guido [Vianello], that was a fantastic heavyweight match.”

Ajagba vs. Vianello, which went on before Anderson-Merhy, was a crowd-pleaser, and one could contend the stock of both fighters rose as a consequence. 

 

“Yes,” agreed duBoef. “They both win. In a majority [decision], or what was it, a split decision, so it was good but at least they gave something to all of us and to the fans, and to future fans that want to be engaged with the sport.” 

 

Tris Dixon covered his first amateur boxing fight in 1996. The former editor of Boxing News, he has written for a number of international publications and newspapers, including GQ and Men’s Health, and is a Board member for the Ringside Charitable Trust and The Ring of Brotherhood. He is a former boxing broadcaster for TNT Sports and hosts the popular Boxing Life Stories podcast. Dixon is a British Boxing Hall of Famer, an International Boxing Hall of Fame elector, is on The Ring ratings panel and the author of five boxing books, including Damage: The Untold Story of Brain Trauma in Boxing, Warrior: A Champion’s Search For His Identity and The Road to Nowhere: A Journey Through Boxings’ Wastelands. 

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