Anthony Joshua doing his part to ‘bring excitement’to boxing
With a 20-0 record and 20 knockouts, England’s Anthony Joshua has given boxing’s heavyweight division the jolt it needed from its extended slumber through the Klitschko brothers era.
Joshua’s vibrancy expands beyond his ring feats, however.
Joshua, by meeting World Boxing Organization champion Joseph Parker of New Zealand on Saturday in Cardiff, Wales, vows he’s aggressively pursuing an agenda to clean out the division.
Now, the International Boxing Federation/World Boxing Assn. champion nears a third heavyweight belt, with unification of the heavyweight titles at hand.
“I feel like this is what we have to do,” Joshua told reporters this week. “If champions don’t face off, then we won’t bring excitement to boxing, and I feel like we heavyweights are the flag bearers for the sport.”
Joshua, 28, and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, have expressed willingness beyond Parker (24-0, 18 KOs). Their next goal is a fight against World Boxing Council champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs).
“There’s no doubt in my mind that fight will happen,” Joshua said. “And there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll beat Wilder, as well. This is where we’re heading … .”
Whether that occurs at London’s Wembley Stadium — where Joshua closed Wladimir Klitschko’s career in April with an 11th-round technical knockout in the fight of the year — or New York or Las Vegas, the event would attract even casual sports fans.
“I can’t worry about [Wilder]. Saturday night is big enough. Saturday night is massive,” Joshua said following a Wednesday workout. “Let’s say we look into a crystal ball and I’m victorious, then we can start talking about future plans.
“Boxing is bigger than ever right now. This is the golden era, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Because UFC president Dana White has shown interest in his champion, Hearn — connected to Joshua for at least two more fights — might have extra urgency to steer his fighter toward the biggest bout as quickly as possible.
White, who has said he’s forming a boxing promotion company, Zuffa Boxing, that is backed by UFC ownership group WME/IMG, is drawn to Joshua.
“I think he’s the most marketable guy in boxing today,” White told the Los Angeles Times in a text message. “He’s exactly what heavyweight boxing needs.”
After the London Daily-Telegraph estimated Joshua could become boxing’s $500 million man by aligning with White, Joshua, in a conference call last week, expressed loyalty to Hearn, adding, “If it’s good business, it makes sense. … If it makes sense, we’re all in.”
The taller Joshua wants to showcase his knockout power and improved boxing against the granite-chinned, fast-punching Parker, who’s banking on energy and stamina built by high-tech training methods and old-school hill running at his Las Vegas training camp.“I win by knockout, 100 percent,” Joshua said.
“It’s good news that [Parker] wants a war. In boxing, all you need is a good chin and a right hand, but I’ve been working on finesse, technique, counter-punching.
“I hope [he] falls into my booby traps because I’m going to set him up with power shots, as well. Yeah, I’ll be up for a war.
“I’m out there defending my throne.”
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire
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