British boxer Anthony Joshua "suffers from an American identity crisis that could derail the expansion of his financial empire in the United States, where he is banking on becoming boxing’s version of David Beckham," according to Vincent Mallozzi of the N.Y. TIMES. Joshua's rep Freddie Cunningham, is "well aware of the importance" of Joshua's fight against Andy Ruiz Jr. Saturday night at MSG -- set to air exclusively on DAZN. Cunningham said, “This is simply a must-win situation. In order to please both the American audience and potential commercial partners here in the United States, Anthony must not just win this fight, but he must win it in style.” Mallozzi notes Joshua has "combined good looks with great entrepreneurial instincts to become a marketing machine whose image is used to sell clothing, jewelry, automobiles and other products throughout England." He has "entered into business deals with such companies as Hugo Boss, Under Armour and Jaguar Land Rover," though his business partnerships remain with "mostly European 'commercial partners.'" Joshua is "wildly popular in London," but his recent arrival at a Hugo Boss store in Midtown Manhattan was "met with the kind of notice that could be appreciated only by a cat burglar" (NYTIMES.com, 5/29). Joshua said, "I could have stayed in London fighting in front of 50,000, 60,000 people, but I wanted these challenges" ("First Take," ESPN, 5/28).
PROVING GROUND: YAHOO SPORTS' Wallace Matthews noted the "real reason the fight is being held" at MSG is to "gauge the viability of Anthony Joshua as an international attraction." Joshua has "yet to prove he can draw outside the U.K." That is a "major sticking point to the fight boxing fans really want to see, a showdown with Deontay Wilder." Joshua wants to "demonstrate his ability to sell tickets on this side of the Atlantic -- and to attract subscribers to DAZN." Joshua's promoter, Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn, said that "some 7,000 Brits are expected to travel to New York for the fight." With the exception of about 800 tickets, Hearn said that the "remainder of the approximately 20,000 seats" are sold. However, as of Tuesday, the MSG website had "more than 2,000 tickets available at prices ranging from $131 to $3,500." That "does not include the number of tickets that might be in the possession of secondary-market sellers" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/28). ESPN’s Max Kellerman told Joshua he can pack 50,000-60,000 fans into an arena in England “no matter who you fight” and “you generate enormous money no matter who you fight.” Joshua: “I could have stayed in London fighting in front of 50,000, 60,000 people, but I wanted these challenges” (“First Take,” ESPN, 5/28).