Anthony Joshua is ready to showcase his boxing brilliance on a global stage after his stunning success over Wladimir Klitschko, according to his promoter Eddie Hearn. The Bird’s Nest Stadium in Bejing, New York’s Madison Square Garden, and venues in Nigeria and the Middle East are now on the burgeoning champion’s wish list as he plots his next move following Saturday’s triumph over Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
Joshua, the International Boxing Federation, International Boxing Organisation and World Boxing Association heavyweight champion, will fight again in October or November, and his promotional team have not ruled out a rematch with Klitschko. But the biggest nights lie further afield as they prepare an assault on the two remaining titles and a conveyor belt of challengers. With Joshua having set his stall out for the biggest fight nights possible, Hearn believes the US would provide a major market, with another possible opponent being Deontay Wilder, the American who is World Boxing Council champion. A fight between two unbeaten heavyweights, both world champions, would resonate at Madison Square Garden, where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier went toe-to-toe as unbeaten champions in 1971.
“It will soon be time to go global,” said Hearn. “Even if we do fight Klitschko again it doesn’t have to be in the UK. It could be but again that might be a fight that suits Madison Square Garden. The reaction from America was massive from this. I think Josh will box next in October or November.
“We are not really in a tearing rush. American broadcasters would love to see the rematch [with Klitschko]. You would have big numbers, big TV deals, big gate, big sponsorship so while Klitschko doesn’t need the money, you now have the chance to fight Joshua again and get more money.
“The main thing is to cement the position with the belts, tie up various longer term deals with the broadcasters and see which of those deals and governments want to pay money to see Anthony box there – countries such as Nigeria, China, the Middle East. [Hearn’s company] Matchroom has already staged snooker tournaments there and has relationships in the right places.”
Tyson Fury, another potential opponent, restated his claim for a shot at Joshua on Monday from Marbella, where he is attempting to regain fitness after a spell away from the sport due to mental health and addiction problems. “Styles do make fights but I am sure I can beat A J with one arm tied behind my back,” Fury told Sky Sports. “I don’t even need a warm-up if he wants this. I have been out of the ring as long as Klitschko but the difference is, I am not 41, I am 28.”
A Joshua-Fury fight would thrill British audiences, but Hearn suggested the American market could provide bigger paydays for Joshua. “If A J boxed on pay per view in America as well as here then you can start talking about £30, £40, £50 million a fight,” he said. “That is a lot more than 10 or 15 million. And Joshua could have 20 fights left.” Hearn believes the Wilder fight will probably take place a year from now, and is serious in his intention of bringing over 100,000 fans to a fight at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, the site of the 2008 Olympics.
At the same time, Hearn has emphasised that boxing politics “will not get in the way of A J’s fights or career”, which means the team will be prepared to jettison a belt along the way in favour of an opponent with the bigger name, rather than a mandatory challenger.
That is Kubrat Pulev, and given that the Bulgarian does not resonate with a British audience, that contest could viably be staged anywhere abroad, or even at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Joshua revealed on Monday that he maintained an appreciation for the history of the division, but played down comparisons of his fight with Klitschko with the two Ali-Frazier contests, The Fight of the Century at Madison Square Garden, and the Thrilla In Manila for drama, and excitement. “I don’t want that, man,” he said. “It is big, though. The kit I chose for this fight was white in honour of Ali and Frazier and these guys – the greats. The key thing right now is that we’re connecting with different people. We’ve got blue-chip sponsors, working-class people, teenagers, kids, street kids, the hipsters. So many different people are watching.”
But does Joshua feel the need to go global? “There are two sides to it,” he said. “I’m not in a rush to go anywhere but [I’m] champion of the world. I don’t want to be known as a fighter who just stays at home. I haven’t had any fights where I’ve had to rely on the judges. But I think when you’re fighting at home, as a professional and you’re going 12 rounds and judges are swaying to the home fighter, I think people get fed up with you fighting at home.
“But it has to be right for my career. If it’s working in the UK at the minute, let’s not rush to change it, in my opinion.”