Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight clash with Wladimir Klitschko is expected to attract 90,000 fans, which would be a post-war record. But it’s not just the UK that’s heavily invested in Joshua – Americans are starting to get excited too.
The Watford-born fighter held his first press conference on US soil on Tuesday and the US media has been purring ever since.
“I watched Muhammad Ali come through and this kid has all the appeal that he had in boxing terms,” veteran broadcaster Eddie Goldman told The Telegraph.
“Joshua could be the second coming of Muhammad Ali. And that’s no exaggeration. He really could be the next Muhammad Ali. He was an Olympic champion, he is 18-0, all by knockout and he has all the talent in the world.”
AJ knows how to sell himself and his promoter Eddie Hearn has been trying to get him in front of US audiences for a while, but a fight in New York or Las Vegas will have to wait until after the Wembley bout against Klitschko.
But having heard Joshua speak in the Madison Square Garden entrance hall, it’s not difficult to see why the 27-year-old has so much appeal.
“Boxing is the embodiment of who I am,” he said. “But beyond that this is a journey of the self, and my obsession to get the most from this short life. In boxing, it is about the obsession of getting the most from yourself, wanting to dominate the world like a hungry, young lion.
“It’s a great feeling to come to the Mecca for boxing, but for me it’s about dominating opponents, not countries or continents. I want to fight here in the USA, just like I want to fight in Africa, but right now my mind is focused on beating Wladimir Klitschko in London on April 29. And this sport is so much about the mind, and my mind is on Klitschko, one of the great heavyweights.”
The April 29 fight will be shown for free in the US on either HBO or Showtime and was described by the head of Showtime as “the biggest fight for the US TV market in heavyweight terms since Lennox Lewis v Mike Tyson and Lewis against Vitali Klitschko.”
Klitschko will be 41 by the time the fight rolls around, but said he’s “obsessed” with the prospect of becoming world champion for a third time – and both men feel this is the perfect time for them to fight.
“I know I’m going to be facing the best Wladimir,” Joshua said.
Klitschko added: “In three years he’ll be too good and I’ll be too old. It’s a signature fight for boxing.”
Roll on April 29.