For a heavyweight in the year 2024, the age of 24 is way too young to be in any kind of rush. Heavyweights have historically blossomed later and lasted longer than smaller fighters, and modern advances in science and nutrition have helped athletes in almost all sports extend their peaks.

If we were instead talking about a bantamweight and it was sometime between the first and second World Wars, sure, 24 is ancient. But for a heavyweight in the 21st century, you can be a legit prospect at 34, never mind 24.

So there’s no reason to rush with Jared “Big Baby” Anderson.

Except … there are perhaps two very good reasons to rush with Jared “Big Baby” Anderson.

The first is that, according to him, he’s already closer to the end of his pro career than the beginning. He’s been suggesting since early on that he wanted to retire young, and last year he got specific and started promising to be out by age 27.

Is that a hard stop, or will he prove flexible? Impossible to say. But his promoter, Top Rank, would be wise to proceed as though Nov. 16, 2027 — Anderson’s 28th birthday — is at least a possible expiration date.

The second reason is the recent emergence of outside-the-ring problems. Anderson has been arrested twice in the last five months. First it was for driving under the influence and improper handling of a firearm in Oregon. Then it was for leading police on high-speed car chases in Michigan.

The latter got him charged with a third-degree felony, and it sets up a busy next few days for the undefeated Toledo, Ohio pugilist. After he headlines an ESPN fight card from Corpus Christi, Texas, against Ryad Merhy on Saturday, Anderson is due back in Michigan on Monday for his next court date.

The clock is ticking at a rate unbefitting most 24-year-old heavyweights.

Anderson’s promoter, Bob Arum, seems to recognize it.

“We’re going to move him — starting now — relatively quickly,” Arum told BoxingScene’s Manouk Akopyan earlier in the week. Arum outlined ambitions to put Big Baby in against big-name contenders like Deontay Wilder or Joseph Parker in 2025 and have him challenge for a title in 2026.

Whether that’s because Arum believes Anderson will be ready for the very best in a year or two, or because external factors are hurrying up the young heavyweight’s timetable, is unclear. It could be both, of course.

Top Rank matchmaker Carl Moretti is downplaying the influence of the external factors.

“Like any other fighter we have, we react to what he does in the ring and let that dictate,” Moretti said. “We know that he’ll fight this fight Saturday, and assuming all goes well, the second half of the year, he’ll fight two more times at least. And what we see in the ring will determine who he’s ready for next.”

Interestingly, Moretti says he sees Anderson’s recent outside-the-ring trouble less as a cause for concern and more as an effect of a 7½-month layoff due to a hand injury since he improved to 16-0 (15 KOs) by beating Andrii Rudenko last August.

“The part about the trouble outside the ring, I think every young fighter has to deal with it, and part of it might have been the inactivity where he wasn't fighting,” Moretti said. “He wasn’t in camp, and when fighters aren’t in camp they become bored, and when they’re bored, it leads to something like this. It’s not an excuse; certainly you can’t excuse what happened. He understands that. But I think that the inactivity because of the injury and the time off might have led to it, or certainly was a contributing factor.”

Mike Tyson, the poster boy for young heavyweights getting into trouble outside the ring, has spoken repeatedly about how dangerous downtime was for him. He fought 15 times in 1985 and 13 times in 1986, but just twice in 1989, leading to his loss to Buster Douglas.

Anderson certainly isn’t approaching Tyson-esque levels of problematic behavior. Rather, the fighter from the past springing to mind for me is Fernando Vargas, who could be hot-headed, had himself a few incidents in his early 20s including an assault charge that eventually led to house arrest, and was fast-tracked perhaps in part for reasons beyond his precociousness as a boxer. He won his first title five days after turning 21, fought Winky Wright before turning 22, and fought Ike Quartey and Felix Trinidad before turning 23 — the latter perceived by some as a case of taking the toughest fight for the biggest money now just in case there was no later.

Moretti, it so happens, was the matchmaker for Vargas’ promoter, Main Events, at the time. I asked him if it was off base to draw parallels between Anderson and Vargas and their respective matchmaking strategies.

“I don’t think you’re way off base,” Moretti said. “But each case is obviously different. Fernando was in a weight class where there were big fights available, and pay-per-view was a different model back then, the Quartey win catapulted him into a Trinidad fight. People thought that was moving fast, but I look at that like, some guys that come out of the amateurs need and want to be moved faster than others. Fernando was one of them. The out-of-the-ring stuff … I don’t think we ever said, ‘Well, we better do something or he’s going go to jail.’”

Moretti also worked with famously hard-living Arturo Gatti, about whom he said, “he was one of those guys where the safest place for them, believe it or not, was in the ring.” He also singled out Francisco “Panchito” Bojado as “somebody that I worked closely with that really fell off the deep end. And it all happened super quick. Get on the train, everybody was on, the train was going 100 miles an hour, and then it just stopped and everybody got off the train.”

With Bojado there were questions, as soon as he suffered a defeat, about his commitment to boxing and the sense that he was burning out astonishingly young. It’s another case that isn’t a perfect comparison to Anderson, but that has at least vague overlaps. Moretti admitted of Anderson, his passion for the sport, and his retirement talk, “I know he’s not a boxing junkie, per se.”

But the “Big Baby” situation is also unique in that, even if Top Rank thought he was ready for his title shot immediately if and when he dispatches Merhy, the opportunity isn’t going to be there. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are facing each other for all the marbles May 18. A rematch could follow. A Fury-Anthony Joshua fight becomes the richest fight in the sport if both keep winning. Plus Fury and Anderson are friends and that may not be a fight that interests the champ.

And as Moretti points out, Saudi Arabia’s involvement injecting barrels of money into boxing makes it tough to line up recognizable opponents for Anderson: “There are heavyweight contenders that you’d love to match with Jared that provide the next step, but who are not interested because they’re just waiting for a call from Saudi to fight somebody else over there.”

Perhaps the timing will work out just right for Top Rank, and the logjam at the top will clear at the moment Anderson is ready for his shot. The catch, however, is that even if everything goes perfectly, and Anderson stays out of trouble and keeps winning and becomes heavyweight champ in, say, 2026, his stated retirement plan leaves him only enough time to make two or three defenses.

Top Rank has no choice but to take some chances and move Anderson as rapidly as they can.

Hey, Bob Arum is 92 years old. He presumably wouldn’t mind fast-tracking his most promising heavyweight anyway.

But Anderson has created a most unusual situation, with his skirting of the law and his apparent lack of love for boxing: Crazy as this sounds, it’s not clear, between the 24-year-old boxer and the 92-year-old promoter, which one is going to be in this sport longer.

Eric Raskin is a veteran boxing journalist with more than 25 years of experience covering the sport for such outlets as BoxingScene, ESPN, Grantland, Playboy, Ringside Seat, and The Ring (where he served as managing editor for seven years). He also co-hosted The HBO Boxing Podcast, Showtime Boxing with Raskin & Mulvaney, and Ring Theory and currently co-hosts The Interim Champion Boxing Podcast with Raskin & Mulvaney. He has won three first-place writing awards from the BWAA, for his work with The Ring, Grantland, and HBO. Outside boxing, he is the senior editor of CasinoReports and the author of 2014’s The Moneymaker Effect. He can be reached on X or LinkedIn, or via email at