News | Mar 13 2017

Could Anthony Joshua be more popular in America than Deontay Wilder?

HBO and Showtime are vying to broadcast Anthony Joshua's mega-fight with Wladimir Klitschko, writes John Dennen
Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko NYC Press Conference  |  Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing/K2/KMG Management

THE Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko showdown qualifies as a mega-fight. It is a meaningful heavyweight contest contest and will sell a record-equalling 90,000 seats at Wembley Stadium in London on April 29, as well as unifying the IBF and WBA world titles.

A sign of its significance is the major US television networks, Showtime and HBO, vying to screen it. “It’s a bit awkward because we’re with Showtime, they’re with HBO, it’s just trying to find an amicable solution. We’re nearly there,” Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn told Boxing News. “Our loyalties are with Showtime with the Anthony Joshua brand and Klitschko’s loyalties are with HBO. You kind of want to give everybody a fair crack of the whip to find a solution.”

The American broadcaster is expected to be decided soon. There’s no guarantee but it’s possible that Klitschko and Joshua could fight twice. “If it’s great fight and it makes sense, we’ll look to do it again. But we’re looking at hopefully winning and moving on hopefully into unifications,” Hearn continued.

That makes WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder a highly appealing opponent for Joshua after Klitschko. “That’s the number one target, although I thought his numbers were really disappointing on Fox. He went on free to air,” Hearn said. “Deontay Wilder should be a 12 month project that you work on to increase the profile. He’s a very likeable, athletic, American heavyweight world champion. It’s not hard. But you need a vehicle behind him. It’s hard work but it’s easy work. It’s man power and just throwing everything at it. Look at Joshua’s brand, it’s sensational, down to us [Matchroom], down to Freddie [Cunningham, Joshua’s manager] and the boys, Sky of course, down to Joshua. We’re pushing and pushing and pushing. It’s been four years to get to this stage and everything’s been impeccable.”

Wilder has moved around different television broadcasters and is yet to have a signature win. In contrast Hearn points out, “Joshua’s fighting Klitschko in his 19th fight, a unification fight. Wilder’s had 38 fights, something like that… He can punch, he can definitely punch. Him and Joshua would be a great fight.

Pondering whether Joshua, who took a press tour to America earlier this year, will become more popular in the USA than Wilder, added, “Soon he will be. And it might be after the Klitschko fight.”

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