On Saturday, Anthony Joshua walked out to a rabid crowd of British fans who thirsted for his win like a parched mouth to water. Joshua stepped out in front of the 90,000 people in attendance at Wembley Arena in an all white robe, shoes and trunks.
In the words of Dej Loaf, “He wore all white when he was feeling godly.”
After a few rounds of feeling each other out, Joshua planted Klitschko on the canvas in the 5th. Klitschko rallied back by placing the 27-year-old champion on the canvas for the first time in his professional career. The two fought a battle of attrition until the young lion finally knocked Klitschko down two more times in the 11th round and the referee called a stop to the contest.
What is more significant than Joshua’s win, retaining his IBF title and winning the WBA Super Heavyweight title, is the fact that he has proven to be the sport of boxing's next biggest thing. Since the departure of Floyd Mayeather, Jr., the pundits have looked for the next superstar to no avail.
That is no disrespect to the guys who are truly bringing it, namely the entire top tier of the welterweight division. However, none of these guys have the traction that Joshua has shown and now can boast in his home country, let alone any stage. There are varying economies of scale in my determination of Joshua as boxing’s new superstar.
Namely, that pay-per-view is not the king-making distribution model it once was. When you look at fights like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, it is easy to see why. People doled out just south of $100 for a fight that they felt didn’t deliver the action that the PPV price tag warranted.
The fight broke PPV viewership records in the United States, with 4.6 million buys and over $410 million in revenue, surpassing the previous $150 million revenue record set by Floyd Mayweather vs. Saúl Álvarez, and the 2.48 million buy record set by 2007's Oscar De La Hoya vs. Mayweather bout.
However, pay-per-view is in a state of current rapid decline and that can probably be attributed directly to this fight. Also, Premier Boxing Champion’s new model of TV time buys has shifted the dynamic back to network and premium cable as the distribution model for top fights. That means the new narrative is unpaid viewership and how many people can pack the arena.
With Joshua vs. Klitschko selling out the Wembley Arena, it was a testament to not only the international audience for boxing, but to his star power. When Wladimir Klitschko fought Tyson Fury in Dusseldorf, Germany, a crowd of 55,000 showed up. The 35,000 extra attendees for the fight against Joshua and the dual broadcast on Showtime and HBO speak volumes to Joshua’s selling power and the branding every network sees with him.
While the world clamors for circus matchups like Mayweather vs. McGregor, pairing unlikely financial allies, boxing’s purists and laymen alike can attest to the new British kid on the block with the million-dollar smile.
Boxing has been looking for a savior for some time. Anthony Joshua has spectacularly arrived in the sports premier division to begin a new chapter in the its resurgence.