Anthony Joshua ‘could emulate Muhammad Ali’ and become sporting icon

Promoters believe Anthony Joshua could go on to be as popular as his hero Muhammad Ali, as they hatch plans to make him one of sport’s biggest stars. The British boxer’s sensational win over Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley has already propelled him to national hero status in the eyes of many fans. But his management team believe he can become a global phenomenon having now secured the IBF and WBA heavyweight titles. Promoter Eddie Hearn is banking on Joshua recapturing the sport’s halcyon days of the 1970s, when the sport regularly made the headlines thanks to Ali’s 'Rumble In The Jungle’ with George Foreman and the 'Thrilla in Manilla’ against Joe Frazier. Hearn said: “In terms of worldwide stardom, I said 'you win this fight and you become the biggest star in British sport and the biggest star in world boxing’.”

The plan, rather than just keep going in the UK, is to explore and break new markets and boundaries like the Middle East, China.

Promoter Eddie Hearn

Hearn said the win had completed “phase two of the four phases in AJ’s career”, as he also revealed the British pay-per-view had been more than the record 1.15 million for Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather in 2015. But 27-year-old Joshua had to dig deep for his epic victory. He and Klitschko traded knock-downs in the fifth and sixth round, with Joshua appearing just a few punches from defeat. But the Watford-born boxer regained his composure to stop his opponent in a blistering 11th round.

I could see [Joshua] fighting in the Bird’s Nest Stadium [Beijing] and Africa. I want to go worldwide with him. Ali was one of AJ’s inspirations. He knows everything he did.

Eddie Hearn