Joshua vs Klitschko: the view from NYC

Martin Chesnutt
02/05/2017 7:35pm

Anthony Joshua's win against Wladimir Klitschko was the most entertaining heavyweight title fight in a long time but - due to a surprising lack of New York interest - I almost missed it.

The fight took place on the second of my three-night stay in NYC, and with the number of bars and television screens in Manhattan, I assumed finding a venue showing the boxing would be easy.

This was not the case.

Ahead of my trip, an American boxing fan had told me that fight night in Times Square's iconic boxing bar, Jimmy's Corner, was too crowded, so I didn't raise the option of them showing the fight while in for a quick drink on Friday.

According to the Sky Sports website, the main event ring walk was set for 9.45pm local time, with the big fight due to begin at 10pm. Normally I'd expect big boxing shows to run behind time, but with American broadcasting money and scheduling involved, I anticipated the event running like clockwork.

Forty-five minutes prior to the fight, the first of four bars, all with multiple televisions and some calling themselves a 'sports bar', said they were not showing the fight, most of them unaware that it was even taking place.

Disbelief was now turning to panic, so a call was put into Jimmy's. Unbelievably, they also were not showing the fight. I wondered how much the commercial licensing fee was? When New York City isn't showing a world heavyweight title fight, there is a problem.

Thankfully Jimmy's mentioned another bar, Jack Dempsey's on 33rd Street, as an option. A quick phone call to our final hope confirmed that, fortunately, they were delivering the goods.

We entered the loud and heaving environment as the Ukrainian national anthem played.

Soon many of the British contingent were singing God Save the Queen, with one grouch at the bar giving a television the middle finger and saying: "Fuck the Queen." Ah, Nationalism!

As for the fight, I'll just say: wow!

It more than delivered, and when it ended, everybody in the bar felt they'd seen something special. During the fight, my hands were shaking, and the company I was with, not followers of the sport, were open mouthed with amazement throughout the bout.

The following day, we popped into Gleason's Gym, with gym owner, Bruce Silverglade, and women's IBO heavyweight champion, Sonya Lamonakis, both concurring that Joshua vs Klitschko was one of the best heavyweight title fights in some time.

When I picked up the Sunday edition of the New York Times, I was amazed that no mention of the fight was given, not even a paragraph acknowledging that it had taken place. The Monday edition also found other ways to fill their space.

American boxing journalists were in London for the fight, and U.S. boxing fans showed enthusiasm, so why the lack of interest in the city that was once the Mecca of boxing?

Would an American participant have made a difference, or are the New York Rangers, also playing at the same time, more popular than I'd anticipated?

So when you're next in New York, definitely visit Jimmy's Corner, a locale which, for boxing fans, feels as much a museum as a place to get a beer, but also keep Jack Dempsey's in mind - the only bar in Manhattan that apparently showed the Joshua vs Klitschko world heavyweight title fight.