The global reach of Anthony Joshua’s world-title showdown against Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night has achieved “unprecedented levels”, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
The Ukrainian’s management team has revealed that the 41-year-old former world No 1 “has never been in a fight with so much interest” in his 68-contest career.
Aside from the fact that 90,000 spectators filing into Wembley stadium breaks the post-war attendance record for a boxing match, for only the third time in history rival American television networks HBO and Showtime have both bought into the world title bout.
The two broadcasters worked simultaneously on two other major fights: Lennox Lewis’s era-defining moment against Mike Tyson, in 2002, and the largest grossing match-up in history in 2015, when Manny Pacquiao took on Floyd Mayweather in a fight which brought in around $700 million.
The Joshua-Klitschko fight, which will air in more than 140 countries, but not on subscription in the US, is expected to generate up to £60 million, with well over 1 million pay-per-view buys expected on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK. Both boxers will earn more than £10 million, more if the buy-rate numbers increase.
Bernd Boente, Klitschko’s manager, revealed to The Daily Telegraph that the size of the contest surpasses anything the former world champion has experienced. “In the David Haye fight we had close to 16 million viewers on German television. It’s generated a lot of interest in Germany,” he said.
“This is one of the few heavyweight fights in the last decade that creates a worldwide interest. The international sales are bigger than ever, for any fight the Klitschkos have done.”
Hearn, the promoter, said: “You can’t be in a key market and not see an Anthony Joshua billboard. Someone sent me one today from Dubai. Another one was sent to me in Los Angeles and in Germany. He’s everywhere. And we’re only scratching the surface.
“Joshua wants to keep going for 10 years, and if so, that journey will evolve through fighting in different markets. It’s the only way you can do it. You can’t keep going in England for 10 years. You’ll run out of opponents. So I think the challenge will be to break down barriers and new markets, whether it’s Africa, the Far East, Middle East, America.”
Although Joshua recently poo-pooed fighting in the United States, and particularly in Las Vegas, intimating that he wanted “to take a fight to Africa like Muhammad Ali and George Foreman did”, Lewis urged the 27 year-old to venture Stateside because it would “make him an even bigger star” and “complete a circle which fighters must make on their journey as champions”.
Hearn added: “I think anything can happen in this fight, but I do think victory for Anthony Joshua probably makes him the biggest star in world boxing, and the biggest star in British sport. It will take boxing to a whole new level.
“I think we’re on the verge of something very, very special. But we also know the dangers and we know this is a 50/50 fight. Wladimir has the experience and many dangerous attributes that could cause Anthony problems.
“If the fight is a great one, it will grow even bigger internationally the second time around in a rematch. This is the biggest fight we have ever seen in Britain, and it is resonating around the world.”
Sky Sports Box Office will show Joshua v Klitschko exclusively live. Order at: skysports.com/joshua