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SBD Global/May 2, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Anthony Joshua Drawing Comparisons To Muhammad Ali

Anthony Joshua's "similarities to Muhammad Ali will help to propel him to become Britain’s highest-paid sports star," marketing experts said, according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. Joshua, 27, "thrilled 90,000 fans at Wembley stadium" after beating Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round to add the World Boxing Association and Int'l Boxing Organization world heavyweight titles to his Int'l Boxing Federation crown. A picture of Joshua standing over his fallen rival has "remarkable echoes of a photograph" taken in '65 of Ali standing over Sonny Liston. Side-by-side pictures of Joshua and Ali in similar poses "went viral" on Sunday, attracting millions of hits on social media. Nigel Currie, a British sports marketing expert, said, "There are shades of Muhammad Ali about Anthony Joshua and that is exactly what heavyweight boxing needs. ... His personality, the fact that he is such an eloquent talker and his physical similarity to Muhammad Ali can only help make him an even bigger star." Joshua earned £12M ($15.5M) from his victory on Saturday but "still lives with his mother, Yeta, in a former council flat." Currie added, "Boxing is one of the sports where the top stars do earn mega millions, and Joshua is now in that bracket" (LONDON TIMES, 5/1). The NEW ZEALAND HERALD reported Joshua has been tipped to become "bigger" than David Beckham. Promoter Barry Hearn said of Joshua, "He's already a wealthy man. He could easily be the first billionaire in boxing. He's still young. At 27, he has at least 10 years ahead of him in the ring and if he keeps winning the money will keep coming. His commercial potential outside the ring is huge, way beyond Beckham and the world's top footballers." However, PR and marketing expert Mark Borkowski warned the heavyweight champ has a "long way to go before becoming a billionaire." Borkowski: "One fight doesn't make a billionaire boxer. You have got to make it in America and you have to be taken seriously by fans there. He'd have to have a series of fights in Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden in New York -- the whole shooting match" (NZ HERALD, 5/1).

RUNNING IT BACK: REUTERS' Aditi Prakash reported Joshua is "eager for a rematch with Klitschko." A clause in their contract allows the beaten fighter to ask for a rematch but Klitschko said that he would "take some time before making a decision." Joshua: "I think he will want to fight again, because a fighter is the last one to know when to stop. But I think the team around him, his (soon to be) wife, because they normally wear the trousers, and his brother might advise him differently" (REUTERS, 5/1).

FURY NEXT? In London, Kevin Mitchell reported Joshua said, "At the end of the fight they cheered Wladimir but, yes it would be nice to fight a real villain. ... I think that we can definitely find someone to dance with again. ... I think even guys without a belt would be good. Tyson Fury obviously hasn’t got a belt." As for who Joshua would like to fight if "all other factors were equal," Joshua is in "no doubt: it would be either Fury or Dillian Whyte," whom he stopped in his "most thrilling contest before the Klitschko show." Fury is "definitely top of the list." Joshua: "Yeah, that's a fight that would bring massive attention from the top to the bottom" (GUARDIAN, 5/1). The PA reported Fury insisted that he is "still the main man in heavyweight boxing." Fury: "Styles do make fights but I am sure I can beat A.J. with one arm tied behind my back. I don't even need a warm-up if he wants this. I have been out of the ring as long as Klitschko but the difference is, I am not 41, I am 28" (PA, 5/1). USA TODAY's Martin Rogers wrote if Joshua keeps winning, his fights will be boxing's "must-see events." That is "precisely what boxing needs, a go-to guy for action and drama, a genuine celebrity with the ability to back up the hype and the hunger to produce a big finish every time he enters the ring" (USA TODAY, 4/29). ESPN.com's Nick Parkinson wrote while Joshua's profile "will only get bigger," his appeal is "not simply down to his knockout power." Joshua's charisma "helps him transcend boxing and appeal to mainstream audiences" (ESPN.com, 4/30).

CROSSING THE POND: REUTERS' Ian Chadband wrote Joshua's handlers "outlined ambitious plans to turn him into a global phenomenon." Just as Ali won the the "Rumble in the Jungle" with George Foreman in Zaire and the "Thrilla in Manila" against Joe Frazier, Hearn has plans for Joshua to "light up new venues in China, the Middle East and Africa." Hearn said, "The plan, rather than just keep going in the U.K., is to explore and break new markets and boundaries" (REUTERS, 4/30). CBS SPORTS' Brian Campbell wrote Joshua's victory "might be what the heavyweight division has desperately needed for years." Both boxers on Saturday "kept coming in a slugfest that didn't take long to remind why boxing is so dependent upon the health of its marquee division to retain relevancy and interest," particularly in the U.S. Saturday's showdown did what every boxing match of its size has "seemingly failed to do in recent years after a long build-up of hype." It "delivered." In fact, it "exceeded expectations" (CBS SPORTS, 5/1).
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