Joshua’s promoter asks people on streets of NY if they know Wilder
By Jeff Aranow: In an experiment to test how popular heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is to the average American, Eddie Hearn, the promoter for IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, asked a couple of pedestrians on the street of New York if they’d ever heard of Wilder. Not surprisingly, the pedestrians said they don’t know who Wilder is.
Hearn took that information and seemed to gloat about it, saying that you couldn’t do the same thing in the UK by asking the average person the street if they’d ever heard of Anthony Joshua without them saying ‘yes’ 9 out of 10 times.
Hearn wanted to test Wilder’s name recognition with the average American, because he seems to feel that the Joshua vs. Wilder fight isn’t ready to take place yet. Hearn wants the average American to know who Joshua and Wilder are, so that the fight will be bigger in the U.S.
“The problem in America is the fighters don’t have a profile,” said Hearn to IFL TV. “If you walked down the street in England and said, ‘Do you know who Anthony Joshua is?’ How many times out of 10 would people say, ‘Yes?’ 10 out of 10, maybe 9 out of 10?” said Hearn.
What Hearn doesn’t quite understand is the U.S is much bigger than UK in size. Indeed, the U.S is 40 times bigger than the UK. There are a lot more people in the U.S and many of them are more focused on making a living than on following the sport of boxing. England has a population of just 53 million people. Just one state in the U.S, California, has a population almost the same size as England. As such, making it big in the U.S is a lot harder than making it big in a small country like England. The UK has a population of 63 million people. In comparison, the U.S has a population of 309 million. There’s a lot more people in the U.S with different interests.
Another thing that Hearn doesn’t understand is boxing isn’t as popular in the U.S as it once was back when Muhammad Ali was still fighting in the 60s and 70s. For a long period of time, boxing stopped being shown on regular television in the U.S. The networks stopped showing fights for a while. That definitely hurt the sport of boxing in the U.S. Even now, boxing is mostly on the premium channels like HBO and Showtime, and those channels cost extra to watch.
At that point, Hearn then walked up to a stranger on the street in New York, and said, “Hey mate, do you know who Deontay Wilder is?”
Stranger #1: “No, who’s that?”
“We can do this all day,” said Hearn in suggesting that he can walk up to New Yorkers on the street all day and ask them the same question and none of them will know who Deontay Wilder is.
Hearn then walked up to another stranger on the street, and said, “Do you know who Deontay Wilder is?”
Stranger #2: “An NFL player?”
“So, here we are out on the street in New York, and this is the problem,” said Hearn in talking about Wilder not being known by the people on the street. “You have to have the man on the street. You have to hit the main people. If I was promoting the world heavyweight champion from America, who could talk like Deontay Wilder, who could fight like Deontay Wilder, every time someone walks past the question and the answer would be different. How do we make this fight?” said Hearn in talking about the Joshua vs. Wilder fight. “We need to come back here [to the U.S]. The moment we come back here [to New York] and say, ‘Do you know who Deontay Wilder is?’ [The people would say] ‘He’s the heavyweight world champion.’ By the way, Anthony Joshua’s profile needs a lot of work here still, but at least in Britain, he couldn’t [not be unrecognized by the public]. You ask that to anyone, the answer would be [yes, I know who Anthony Joshua is.’ We have to make the [Joshua-Wilder] fight in 2018. Whoever is next, I don’t know,” said Hearn.
Hearn is kidding himself if thinks he would do a better job at trying to crack America if he were Wilder’s promoter. It would be the same thing. Hearn doesn’t understand how big the country is. He could throw his entire fortune in trying to market Wilder and Joshua in the U.S to make them big names, he’d likely get nowhere. In the U.S, NFL football and NBA basketball already attract the majority of the interest. Major League Baseball has a following as well, although you can argue the sport is losing fans rapidly. In the UK, football, as in soccer, is really people. People use Sky to watch that sport.
Joshua is heavily marketed on Sky, which gives those fans a huge dose of hearing about him. In the U.S, it’s not like that. There isn’t a main channel that pushes Deontay Wilder the way that Joshua is being pushed by Sky. There’s no way for the average American fan to be made aware of Wilder in the States like the average fan is made to learn about Joshua in the UK. It’s a different situation in the U.S. If Americans loved soccer like they do in the UK, and if there was just one channel that showed most of those games, the Americans would see tons of commercials filled with footage of Deontay Wilder, and they’d become fans the same way the British people have been educated about Joshua.
If Hearn is looking for a reason not to make the Joshua vs. Wilder fight, he’s now got an excuse. He can tell Wilder and his people that he can’t make the fight with Joshua because he’s not popular enough in the U.S. That probably won’t fly with Joshua though. Joshua is the one that wants Wilder’s WBC belt. He’s not going to be happy if Hearn comes back to him and tells him, ‘Sorry, AJ, I can’t make the fight with Wilder because he’s not a big name in the U.S. We’ll just stick with fighting guys like Carlos Takam, Eric Molina and Dillian Whyte in the UK, alright?’ Joshua isn’t going to go for that. He’s going to tell Hearn to get the fight made with Wilder.