I’m happy I got the opportunity to showcase my talents on ESPN at such a young age.— Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson
Jared Anderson skillfully punished his opponent for win No. 4 on ESPN, signaling the Heavyweight division may remain hot for years to come
Last night on ESPN Toledo, Ohio’s 20-year old Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson blitzed Johnnie Langston en route to a third round technical knockout. The 6-foot 4-inch former USA Boxing standout improved to 4-0 with his fourth stoppage.
The performance shouldn’t serve as a footnote as undefeated WBO Featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson cemented his case as a future pound-for-pound performer. Boxing fans likely also received a glimpse at something else future-related.
Following his efficient dismantling of 30-year old Langston (8-3, 3 KOs), Anderson also excelled in his socially distanced interview with ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. He stood with his hands on his hips, as he caught his breath, and naturally shot straight responses while wearing a “Black Lives Matter” tee shirt.
“He took some good shots. He was a tough opponent. I did what I wanted to. I did some stuff I didn’t want to do. I got caught with a good shot. It didn’t hurt me, but I definitely got caught with it,” Anderson said. “I know a different opponent could hurt me with a shot like that. We’ll go back to the drawing board and see what I did wrong.
The one-sided victory marked Anderson’s first trip beyond the first frame. The final result was the same as his three previous outings.
While the matchup wasn’t remotely near the caliber of last year’s AFC Conference Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots, Anderson’s array of skills and attributes were noteworthy. The young sensation’s trunks featured a large Patriots logo. He also wore a Tom Brady jersey at one point in the broadcast.
His choice of favorite football team speaks to the state of professional football in his home state, but the bigger statement was that the Heavyweight division might be boxing’s deepest – over the next several years.
The Heavyweight Division’s Ongoing Resurgence
From 201 pounds and up, boxing’s heaviest division is essentially the game’s best super conference. The division’s Big 3 are Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder who are 31, 30 and 34, respectively. Each has a birthday later this year, which has already been impacted significantly by COVID-19.
However, in addition the Big 3 and a credible Top 5 ranking for each of the four sanctioning bodies, compelling fighters round out the next 10 slots. Instead of college football’s super conferences having East and West divisions, Heavyweight could run with USA and International.
Along with Anderson, some interesting Stateside talents include Stephan Shaw, Jermaine Franklin, and Darmani Rock. These fighters have yet to crack the rankings, but are all poised to make some noise should the opportunity arise.
Internationally, there is Tony Yoka and several guys who have already fought their way into the Top 15 in Filip Hrgovic, Otto Wallin, and Junior Fa. There’s also Mahammadrasul Majidov who, at 33 with just two fights, will need to move quickly. And, former Cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev had yet to make his debut in the division due to lingering injuries that have sidelined him since his July 2018 clash with Oleksandr Usyk.
Anderson’s performance against Langston, in a studio setting sans a live crowd, served as the most recent snapshot of where the young man is. He’s fit at 236 pounds, his height won’t be a total liability against the division’s giants, and his offensive output will only improve.
Praising the kid (for doing his job essentially) at this juncture doesn’t mean he will cut the line and move past the likes of Michael Hunter, Charles Martin, Andy Ruiz or an Efe Ajagba. But, Anderson’s potential shows that we can reasonably expect some exhilarating matchups beyond the Heavyweight division’s title picture, or within the potential mandatory defenses. The state of the game is better when the division seems like its laden with some of the baddest men on the planet.
All photos by Hecto De La Cruz/Top Rank