By Sean Crose
Ever heard of Anthony Joshua, the 14-0 British heavyweight who has won every one of his professional bouts by knockout? If you haven’t, maybe it’s time to get familiar with the man. For not only did Joshua destroy the hapless Gary Cornish last weekend in London, he sold out the O2 arena, which sits, oh, 20,000 people, in just six hours for his next fight, against Dillian White. That’s a complete sellout. In six hours.
Oh, Joshua technically didn’t sell out the O2 personally. White himself is undefeated with a 13-0 record of his own. Make no mistake about it, though Joshua is hot in Britain right now. Red hot. As has been mentioned elsewhere, Floyd Mayweather couldn’t fit fourteen thousand people into the MGM Grand in Vegas last weekend. Joshua filled over six thousand more seats than that in a single day.
The hits don’t stop there, though. Last year, super midlleweight champ Carl Froch rematched his feisty nemesis George Groves in front of eighty thousand people at London’s Wembley stadium. Eighty thousand. What’s more, Brit featherweight Josh Warrington recently defeated Joel Brunker in front of a thunderous home crowd in Leeds’ First District Arena. Leeds, in case you didn’t know, is in, you guessed it, England.
See where this is going?
While PBC cards play to thin crowds, networks like Sky Sports are broadcasting thunderous fan affairs across the Atlantic. Make no mistake about it, British boxing fans are PASSIONATE. Really passionate. When a featherweight bout between two men who aren’t even battling for a major title has more in-house electricity than Mayweather-Pacquiao did, it’s time to take notice.
Watching fight cards from England is like watching American network television on any given weekend in the 70s and 80s. There’s not just boxing to behold, there’s a thrilled and engrossed live audience adding spice to the banquet. The fans of these English cards are INVOLVED in the bouts. They’re INVESTED in their outcomes. People don’t look bored. People don’t look like they’re there because someone was comping tickets. These crowds are raucous. Like American boxing crowds used to be.
Like American UFC crowds are now.
Boxing may be widespread on American television at the moment, but the broadcasts, by and large, don’t have the BUZZ recent English cards do. Why not? It’s a question boxing’s American power players should start asking themselves. Some of it may, actually, have to do with the guidance of some of America’s rising ring stars.
For instance, Anthony Joshua is explosive. Froch and Groves wanted to knock each other senseless. Warrington is a local hero. America’s up and comers, with all due respect, aren’t accompanied by such hype. Adrien Broner and Shawn Porter are both from Ohio, yet when they fought this past year, it wasn’t in Ohio. Ask yourself this – would the same thing have happened with two known fighters from West Yorkshire?
The recent Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares bout delivered the goods in front of a hyped crowd at California’s StubHub Center. The same can be said for recent Gennady Golovkin bouts. These fights shouldn’t be the exception. They should be the rule.