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Anthony Joshua

There's a fine line between Floyd Mayweather and Sugar Ray Leonard made

By Jamil Parker   - @intuboxing

The meteoric rise of Anthony Joshua, in such a short time, can only be rivalled by early Mike Tyson. In the U.K he is a superstar and an absolute cash cow. In America, however, he is viewed in a different light or not even viewed at all.

Despite having crossover appeal in Great Britain he is still relatively unknown by the casual U.S fan. This is directly due to his unwillingness to travel to Las Vegas for big fights. Marketing wise he checks every box…good looking, quality resume and well-spoken but something is missing.

The A-side of boxing is an overused phrase that allows the bigger draw to use his monetary leverage to secure every advantage in an upcoming fight.

Joshua is most certainly the A-side of the heavyweight division. Posting 4 straight sell-outs and at least 70,000 fans in attendance. Along with putting butts in the seats. He has 3 pay-per-views that have surpassed over one million buys. 

There have been many A-side fighters throughout the history of the sport. All have used their influence for their benefit, but some more than others. Two notables are Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather Jr. who is viewed on 2 opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Leonard is looked at as the cerebral assassin that picks the perfect time to face top-notch opposition. Whether he needs to stand toe to toe or to box on the outside, he was very comfortable at doing either. He is most notably known for beating Hearns, Hagler and Duran all during their prime.

Mayweather is viewed as a lion who only attacks injured or sick prey, guaranteeing an easy kill. He has been criticized for fighting once great but out of prime fighters. While avoiding them when they are at their best. I personally don't agree with this narrative, but many casual fans and Floyd critics have adopted it.

This reflects the age-old adage that perception is reality. No matter how many quality victories Floyd gets, his detractors will still point to the 5-year Pacquiao negotiations. Fighting Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosely in their 30's along with fights against Andre Berto and Connor McGregor. In my opinion, Mayweather is the best of his era, but it shows how delicate an image is in boxing. It takes years to build and is one rumour away from ruining it.

Anthony Joshua is on the precipitous of entering the Floyd realm of criticism. The question is does he deserve it? In 23 fights he has obtained 3 out of the 4 major belts and has many quality names on his hit list. However, he has been reluctant to face the other BIG name in the division, Deontay Wilder.

Negotiations with Wilder has been an absolute train wreck…in typical May vs Pac fashion. A bunch of rumours sprinkled with he said she said and a dash of hypocrisy on both sides. During this time Joshua has contradicted himself on several occasions. From asking for 50 million guaranteed only to turn it down. To say that he wanted Wilder next then saying he will only take the fight when he is able to win even if the fight happens 2019, 2020.

The boxing fan is very fickle, one moment they view you as Thor ruling over Asgard. The next as Loki cowering at the end of Avengers. What they need to realize is, to the fighter, it’s business first. Joshua wants to maximize his earning potential before taking such a huge risk. What Joshua needs to realize is, that while doing this, he opens himself to the narrative that he is ducking Deontay Wilder.

At this moment in time, Anthony Joshua has the boxing world at his feet. What he does in this next year will have ripple effects in the heavyweight divisions future. All that is certain is that everyone will be watching.