Showtime Paves Way For Anthony Joshua’s American Invasion
Rising star – and IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua is about to be a regular on American television. Indeed, the British knockout artist, who boasts an impressive 16-0 record (all 16 wins by KO), has signed a multi-bout deal with Showtime television. Joshua’s premiere will be in June when he faces 17-0 Dominic Breazeale (all but two wins by KO) from London in a title fight. Although not a major bout, it will serve to showcase the domineering Brit before a larger audience. Showtime announced the deal earlier this week, to some fanfare.
A gold medal winner in the 2012 Olympics, Joshua has been on the radar of serious American fight fans for a while now. Thanks to his impressive resume and ring finishes, Showtime now clearly feels it’s time to try to bring out a new heavyweight star in the form of the Hertfordshire native. Indeed, American fans haven’t followed a heavyweight with genuine interest in close to a generation. Sure enough, America hasn’t been keen on the heavyweight division since the Tyson-Holyfied-Lewis era. Longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko, though dominant, proved to be a bit dull for North American tastes. A new heavyweight era, however, seems to be dawning.
For Klitschko was bested by Joshua’s countryman, Tyson Fury, last year, which led to a breakup of the title scene in the big man’s division. What’s more, the rise of fighters like Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz and Joshua himself has generated heat within the heavyweight ranks. Although all of these new breed heavies have some question marks hovering over their individual abilities, Joshua has started being regarded by analysts as the best of the bunch. And now Showtime clearly wants in on the Anthony Joshua business. It may well prove to be the right move at the right time.
Showtime, after all, appeared to be all but out of the boxing business not so long ago. It’s returned to being a significant force in boxing in recent months, however, and the signing of Joshua may be a sign as to just how seriously invested Showtime now is in the sweet science. Meanwhile, HBO, under rumors of serious budget cuts, has been showing less than thrilling matchups recently. What’s more, it appears to be relying more heavily on pay per view cards, as is evidenced by the recent announcement of the upcoming Bud Crawford – Viktor Postol junior welterweight matchup on pay per view.
Showtime appears ready to fill at least some of the void. For Joshua can only be seen as a long term investment for the network. He also may prove to be a very lucrative investment if he has a showdown with fellow Showtime heavyweight titlist Wilder. Indeed, that match at first blush has the makings of one that might generate considerable interest among fans. Both fighters are thunderous punchers with bodybuilder physiques and unique backstories. Add in Wilder’s charismatic personality and there’s the makings of fairly big deal. Would the fight determine who the best heavyweight in the world, was, though?
The answer, sadly, is no. As good as it will be for American fans to have easier access to Joshua fights, the fact remains that a deal with Showtime might lessen the chances of Joshua facing the likes of Ortiz or the winner of the impending Fury-Klitschko rematch any time soon. Yet the operative word here is “might.” Boxing politics have certainly damaged the sport, but it may be reasonable to suspect that even boxing’s stubborn fiefdoms will eventually realize there’s more money to be found in unity than there is in Balkanization.
Let’s hope the powers that be come to their senses sooner rather than later now that things have become interesting in the heavyweight division for what is essentially the first time in years.