ANTHONY JOSHUA will continue to be involved in huge fights – and huge fights only – if he defeats Wladimir Klitschko on April 29, according to his promoter Eddie Hearn.
The IBF world heavyweight champion had taken some criticism for his recent level of opposition, particularly the overmatched Eric Molina, who was swatted aside in three rounds at the weekend.
However unbeaten Joshua is moving in to a legitimate blockbuster fight – the outcome of which is no foregone conclusion – and Hearn is aware of the marked step up in class ‘AJ’ is making.
“This is a big fight for him, a massive test,” he told Boxing News.
“It’s well beyond anything he’s done – I’m not saying he’s not the favourite or anything – but how can you compare anything he’s done previously to this? It’s a massive risk. A lot of people are saying it’s too early, some are saying it’s the perfect time and that’s what makes it so exciting.
“It could be a mismatch, Joshua could lose every round and get dominated. Or he could go out there and destroy Klitschko, we don’t know.”
Though he has not even had 20 professional fights yet, Joshua is already British boxing’s biggest star and broadcast deals with the likes of Showtime are quickly turning him into an international commercial juggernaut as well.
Should he beat Klitschko – which he is favoured to do – his profile will become stratospheric and fights with the likes of WBO world champion Joseph Parker, WBC boss Deontay Wilder and former champion David Haye will be demanded by the public.
“There’s no backwards steps [after this fight],” Hearn continued.
“You look at the guys out there, Parker has just won the title, Wilder I think is a great fight, even Haye as well or [Tony] Bellew.
“You can’t go and earn what he’ll earn in this fight and then go and fight a voluntary or mandatory nobody’s ever heard of for three million quid, it’s just not going to happen. How many fights is he going to have? 30, 35? It would be tough for him to have 35.”
Although the Klitschko announcement came immediately after Joshua had beaten Molina, the Londoner’s schedule will quiet down over the Christmas period.
He will have the rest of December and most of January off as he prepares for the most important training camp of his career to date.
At a press conference earlier today Joshua and Klitschko were respectful of one another, having struck up a friendship a few years ago when Wladimir used Joshua for some sparring.
After some ugly instances in recent weeks, with David Haye punching Tony Bellew and Dereck Chisora hurling a table at Dillian Whyte, it was refreshing to see two genuine superstars conduct themselves professionally.
Hearn said: “You’ve got the biggest star in boxing, certainly the biggest star in British boxing, against a legend for the unified heavyweight championship. What do you want? Tables thrown around, chairs thrown around? We don’t need it, tickets will sell out rapidly.
“Hearing Klitschko like that today, it shows you how motivated he is. He’s fired up for this fight. You’re just not going to get that from Anthony – listen, if someone puts it on him, you’ll get it, but he’s just finished a fight on Saturday.
“I like hype as much as anyone but when you get a fight of this size between two role models, isn’t it great for the sport?”