Why don’t Americans give Anthony Joshua a fair shake?

By Boxing News - 09/23/2018 - Comments

Image: Why don't Americans give Anthony Joshua a fair shake?

By Liam Butler: So, following the events of Saturday 22nd September, heavyweight king Anthony Joshua has further cemented his place as the outstanding fighter at his weight, and arguably one of the top P4P fighters in the world. Well, that’s what you would think.

For a fighter who has had 22 fights and beaten many of the outstanding fighters in his weight class, there continues to be an antipathy towards Joshua, especially from those in America who see their man, Deontay Wilder as the true king at this level, a man that has been avoided by Joshua who intently follows the orders of Eddie Hearn and his overly cautious trainer Rob McCracken.

There is no question that his career has been manufactured in a way where he has found certain fighters at opportune times, most pertinently Wladimir Klitschko and last nights victim Alexander Povetkin, but there is no question that both of these fighters were still top level, regardless of their age, when they fought Joshua. It seems to be forgotten this guy has fought some dangerous fights along the way. While Dillian Whyte to some may seem a clumsy and technically questionable fighter, this guy has tremendous heart and he himself has shown himself, in retrospect, to be one of the outstanding heavyweights of this post Klitschko era. Dominic Breazeale, a man who was almost recycled back into the heavyweight title mix if it was not for Tyson Fury’s remarkable challenge for Wilder’s WBC strap, was dispatched by Joshua in in 7 rounds quite convincingly.

Without a doubt if you compare the records of Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, you are deluded if you think Deontay, with his only significant wins coming against Bermane Stiverne (who in terms of quality you could compare to the likes of Charles Martin, another victim of Joshua’s) and Luis Ortiz, could ever claim to have had the more challenging or legacy defining fights. What I think is a big flaw in the opinions of many of those who hold this contempt for Joshua is that they are just unwilling to give him credit for anything, particularly his record. I’m not deluded. I consider Wilder’s win against Ortiz to be comparable to that of Joshua’s wins against Povetkin, and perhaps even the then 41 year old Klitschko. There is a massive movement which suggests that Joshua ‘ducked’ that fight but I’m sorry, any sane person can see that’s not the case. From a marketability perspective Ortiz, an unconfirmed 39 year old Cuban, who doesn’t speak English and has not been any significant fight himself, is in terms of selling tickets, a nightmare. This alongside his well-earned status as ‘the boogeyman’ of the Heavyweight division are clear and obvious reasons why Anthony Joshua did not want to go anywhere near that fight, and can you really blame him? I commend Deontay for stepping up and dispatching a genuine quality contender in the fashion that he did, it was simply incredible to watch. But please, don’t hold it against Anthony Joshua for not taking that fight alone, it’s abit pathetic considering the rest of his record. Another issue I believe alot of the anti-Joshua camp have is this over-enamoured hatred towards the fact that Joshua is aiming for a 60-65% share of the purse in a fight with Wilder, which it admittedly, the overarching obstacle to this fight happening so far. I’m sorry, but Anthony Joshua has the ability to sell out Wembley and even my mother is a fan, he has household name appeal and that’s undeniable, so he is well within his right to expect a higher percentage of the purse. I actually think Wilder has fantastic potential from a marketability perspective, probably as much, if not more than Joshua with the US being a far larger country. God only knows what his promotional team have allowed him get to the age of 32 in the state he is commercially, but there is still plenty of time, and he really is a character, you can’t deny his quality and tenacity. But this is my point. Don’t blame Joshua, and to an extent even leave Eddie Hearn alone because it’s not his fault that Wilder is not marketable enough to warrant a 50/50 split. I despise that it has to come down to a business perspective but that’s just the way it is.

My other big issue is with those who are just so overly negative towards Joshua’s technique and seem to almost suggest that without his knockout power he’s a relatively average boxer (even Tyson Fury said this yesterday and I love Tyson, but this is rubbish). I know we get watered down press reports of ‘Joshua’s stunning win against A B or C’ where they overlook his mistakes and proclaim him as this unbeatable, untouchable god-like champion. The guy admits himself that he isn’t the finished product and that he makes mistakes in fights and how can you not respect his honesty! Some of you act like he’s entitled and is a product of the hype of the Matchroom machine but he isn’t that bad, come on. I’d even argue that his vulnerability makes him an even more interesting fighter. Ultimately, the guy has fought 5 of the top 15 heavyweights excluding himself, and he’s beaten everyone of them. Wilder, as much as I rate him, has beaten one.

I do enjoy reading the views of guys on here but sometimes some of the stuff written smacks of jealousy towards UK fans who are blessed to have a genuine sporting superstar in Anthony Joshua. I am more than convinced by what I have seen that Deontay has that potential to be equally as revered in the US but let’s just see how the career defining fight with Tyson Fury goes and we can re-evaluate his worth in a potential Joshua dust-up.

Ultimately I just want you to think very clearly. Aside from Fury and Wilder, who is there now? There is nowhere for him to go, and we will get these fights because as much as Eddie Hearn would prefer to recycle Dillian Whyte, it’s not just what I, or any of the fan’s truly want (as much as I love Dillian Whyte, a man who should have had a world title opportunity by this point, also). But next time your thinking about Joshua not being the heavyweight champion that you want him to be, think clearly about the people he’s fought and those he has supposedly ducked or yet to fight. Truly, you are left with Ortiz, Wilder and Fury, and that’s not half bad to be honest, in 22 fights.