Kellerman expects Joshua to become big star in U.S
By Jeff Aranow: In a sign that we could be seeing British heavyweight Anthony Joshua soon signing a contract with HBO to have his fights televised in the U.S., Max Kellerman is saying that he sees the 28-year-old IBF/WBA heavyweight champion as the biggest star in boxing today and he believes it’s going to be something when he becomes a star in the States.
Joshua is currently signed to Showtime in the U.S, but that contract is about to expire with his next fight against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker in March or April. Showtime could re-sign Joshua. That’s a possibility. But with the way that Kellerman is praising Joshua, a champion that fights on HBO’s rival network Showtime, it suggests that we could see him soon on HBO with a contract with them. Either way, it’s going to be difficult for Joshua to become a star in the U.S, given that he doesn’t in that country, and he’s not facing opposition that the American fans are excited about.
Joshua-Parker is a decent fight, but it’s not one that will attract a lot of attention from the casual boxing fans in the U.S. There’s only 2 fighters in the heavyweight division that Joshua can face that would interest the U.S fans and that’s WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and former undisputed champion Tyson Fury. It’s possible that neither of those fights will happen due to the difficulties involved in negotiating those matches.
“He’s the biggest star in boxing, and one of the biggest stars in sports worldwide,” said Kellerman to HBO’s Fight Game about Joshua. ”When he hits in this country, which is only a matter of time, it’s going to be really something to see. This guy is not only the goods. He has the goods, and maybe even the greats, which is even better,” said Kellerman.
You can argue that Joshua will never be a big star in the U.S. If he never fights Fury or Wilder, two fighters that he absolutely needs to face for him to have a chance of becoming a star in the United States, then he won’t become a star over there. The U.S boxing fans aren’t going to get excited watching Joshua beat Eric Molina, Carlos Takam, Dominic Breazeale, Jarrell Miller and Alexander Povetkin.
It doesn’t matter if HBO signs Joshua. He’s not going to become a big star fighting those heavyweights, especially if the fights take place in the UK. HBO would have to either televise Joshua’s fights by take delay or air them during the early afternoon on Saturday’s in the U.S. That’s not a traditional time for the American fans to watch boxing events.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been reluctant to bring him over to the U.S to build his brand in that country, because he brings in so much money fighting in front of large crowds in the UK. Joshua would be losing money by fighting in the U.S rather than in stadium fights in the UK. It would be an investment in Joshua’s future by him fighting in the U.S instead of staying over in the UK.
Joshua and Hearn would have to be willing to lose out on all the money they could make in the United Kingdom in large stadiums. I don’t think Joshua and Hearn are ever going to make that move. For that reason, it’s doubtful that Joshua will become a big star in the U.S fighting on HBO.
Joshua’s fights being televised in the early afternoon in the U.S or non-live in the evening hours in the U.S isn’t going to help him become a star in that country, especially if his promoter Hearn isn’t able to deliver the fights with Fury and Wilder. When Lennox Lewis became a star in the U.S, he had some big names for him to fight like the following heavyweights:
• Shannon Briggs
• Evander Holyfield
• David Tua
• Hasim Rahman
• Mike Tyson
• Vitali Klitschko
• Andrew Golota
• Oliver McCall
• Tommy Morrison
• Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock
• Michael Grant
• Tony Tucker
Lennox Lewis devoted the last 11 years of his pro career in fighting in the U.S on HBO. Lewis became a star in the U.S because he fought there repeatedly for 11 years. Joshua has never fought there, and it’s unclear whether he ever will. If Joshua is only going to fight Wilder in the U.S in a one-time thing, he’s not going to be transformed into a star. Likewise, HBO piping Joshua’s fights into the U.S for early afternoon or non-live on tape delay in the evening isn’t going to do the job in making him a star in the U.S. There’s never been a foreign fighter that has become a star in the U.S in boxing by having all of their fights shown on tape delay. That’s not realistic. For that reason, HBO might want to lean on Hearn and Joshua to get him to fight in the U.S if they’re going to put him under contract at some point to have his fights televised in that country. It’s not a good deal for HBO to show fights in the early afternoon on Saturday on tape delay.
Here are the guys that Joshua has a chance of fighting in the remainder of his career:
• Deontay Wilder – high chance the fight never happens due to issues involving purse split
• Tyson Fury – See above
• Joseph Parker – not a big enough name to increase Joshua’s popularity. Unknown in U.S
• Dillian Whyte – unknown in U.S
• Jarrell Miller – No fan base in U.S
• Alexander Povetkin – Unknown in U.S
• Daniel Dubois – Unknown in U.S
• Joe Joyce – unknown in U.S
What will hurt Joshua the most in him trying to become a star in the U.S is the lack of talented heavyweights in the division right now. This era is really hurting as far as recognizable good heavyweights. There’s only Deontay Wilder, Fury and Joshua. That’s it. The division is empty. Alexander Povetkin is nearing 40, and he’s not well-known with casual boxing fans in the U.S. Luis Ortiz is nearing 40 as well, and he’s in the same boat as Povetkin as not being well-known with the American fans. American heavyweights Jarrell Miller and Dominic Breazeale have no following, and lack the popularity to do anything for Joshua in fighting them.
Joshua is the biggest star in the UK. I don’t think Kellerman is correct about Joshua being the biggest star in boxing as a whole. Joshua isn’t known in the U.S by the casual fans, and he’s not a star in Canada, Mexico, China or other parts of the world. Joshua is a star in the UK. The population of the UK isn’t big. For Joshua to be the biggest star in boxing, he’ll need to have a large country like the U.S. following him, and paying to see his fights. Joshua isn’t a PPV fighter in the U.S the Lennox Lewis was for a time in his career.
“He’s big, he’s personable, and he’s charming,” said Kellerman about Joshua. ”He’s got it. He knows why people pay their money [to see him fight]. He’s interested in being great, and he’s [the No.1] heavyweight.”
Joshua is a good heavyweight, but he has a lot of flaws. Wladimir Klitschko almost beat him on April 29 in their fight at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The 41-year-old Wladimir almost beat Joshua and he was coming off of a 2-year layoff. Wladimir fought the worst possible fight a heavyweight could fight, and he still almost beat Joshua. Being big, personable and charming isn’t enough for Joshua to become a star in the U.S if he no one to fight, and he’s losing every once in a while.
”By the way, he’s not going to be undefeated forever either,” said Kellerman about Joshua.
”He’s vulnerable. The way that he’s vulnerable will also be interesting. He’s going to be an enormous star for what I think will be quite some time,” said Kellerman.
It goes without saying that Joshua won’t be unbeaten forever. He lacks the stamina and the punch resistance for him to go undefeated forever.
Unless Joshua is willing to devote a number of years of his career fighting in the U.S, it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever become the star in that country that Kellerman thinks he’ll be. HBO can pipe Joshua’s fights from England over to the U.S all they want, but unless he’s willing to fight in that country, he’s facing an uphill battle to try and and become a big star. It would be a mistake to take that approach of Joshua only fighting in the UK. Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has built a following in the U.S by fighting in that country almost exclusively for the last 5 years. Joshua is almost 30, and he’s still yet to fight in the U.S.