Jared Anderson is exactly where he wants to be in his career.
In an era where far too many fighters are eager to race to the top, the 23-year-old heavyweight contender is content to box as often as possible and collect the paychecks that come with those assignments. With that request comes his fourth fight in barely eight months, as he faces Ukraine’s Andriy Rudenko. Their scheduled ten-round heavyweight clash tops an ESPN-televised doubleheader this Saturday from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“It feels great. I’m ready to stay active,” Anderson told BoxingScene.com. “Looking forward to getting through this fight week, getting paid again and then getting a chance to relax.”
His rate of activity has not come at the expense of his competition level. Anderson is fresh off a ten-round win over still-serviceable former IBF heavyweight titlist Charles Martin, albeit in a late-notice assignment on July 1 in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio.
The feat followed a knockout victory over a fellow unbeaten heavyweight less than three months prior, which in turn came just shy of four months from his four-and-a-half minute destruction of Jerry Forrest last December 10 in New York City.
A fourteen-fight knockout streak in as many pro bouts preceded Anderson’s long overdue homecoming headliner. It was a night of firsts for ‘The Real Big Baby’ who’d never previously headlined a show, fought at home, versus a former titleholder, had been past six rounds or gone the distance.
All of that changed in his ten-round, unanimous decision victory over Martin (29-4-1, 25KOs), who accepted the fight on less than two weeks’ notice. Kazakhstan’s Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-0, 18KOs)—who faces Efe Ajagba in Saturday’s co-feature—was unable to secure a visa in time to honor the fight, but the show still went on for Anderson.
The threat of a knockout surfaced when Anderson floored Martin early in their ESPN main event but he was instead dealt his stiffest test to date. Martin briefly stunned the unbeaten heavyweight in round five and caught his attention again in the tenth and final round as he forced the fight to go the scorecards.
It was hardly a panic party among the Anderson team. The opposite was true, as the discussion quickly turned to how soon he could get back in the ring. Top Rank already had designs on featuring him atop the very show that will take place this weekend, a decision that was fully embraced without second thought by Anderson.
“It was like maybe six days before we were right back in the mix,” Anderson stated. “It feels great to know that Top Rank believes in me like that. I’ve had that confidence in me for a long time.
“Now that we both see it that way, we can move on to the next level.”
That move can carry different meanings to various fighters.
For Anderson, it means the stage of his career where he maintains the same exceptional rate of activity. It comes at a higher level of competition, main event slots and of course main event money.
Whether it leads to a title shot by this time next year or he is simply facing other contenders while he waits his turn for the division’s top prize is not a major concern. It’s not that Anderson doesn’t want any of that for his career—everything happens for a reason and when the time is right.
Right now is the time to continue to sharpen his skills and develop his brand to where others have to come to him for a career-changing payday and not the other way around.
“For me, it’s just about keeping working. I’ve been vocal in saying this—I’m not in this for the legacy,” insisted Anderson. “I’m in this for the business. I’ve got a lot of family to feed. I don’t have any kids yet but I would love to have them one day. I’m in it for the business side, keeping my family safe and healthy, and making sure all my family can get fat (financially) if they want to. That’s really what it is for me, being the present is just about staying active.
“I’m just trying to stay as active as I can to build my generational wealth and get to that next level. That legacy stuff doesn’t really fit me right now. Maybe when I get older, I’ll want to jump back into that part of the sport and build some legacy. At the moment, I’m at the business perspective with it.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox