Anthony Joshua: Is AJ experiencing the 'Floyd Mayweather Effect'?
It's been several days now since two-time Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua decisively outboxed Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia, and there has been a mixed bag of criticism in assessing the 6'6" fighter's winning performance.
Depending on a boxing fan's personal taste or preference, it's difficult to say whether or not the boxing community approved of AJ's tactical execution of head trainer Don McCraken's fight strategy.
Although the fight plan was indeed effective against his 6'2" opponent, the verdict is seemingly split.
Did Joshua put forth a boxing masterclass, reminiscent of Lennox Lewis vs. David Tua? Or was AJ running from Ruiz and merely trying to survive, more similar to that of Wladimir Klitschko's performance in his first fight with Sam Peter in Atlantic City?
Regardless of which category his performance respectively falls under, there are two things learned from Joshua vs Ruiz 2 that aren't up for debate:
1) His strategy was super effective against Andy Ruiz, and
2) Anthony Joshua is without a doubt the biggest draw in the heavyweight division.
In one fight, the heavyweight kingpin grossed more than WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder's net worth, raking in an estimated $60 million-plus payday. It's being reported that his second outing with Andy Ruiz broke the Sky Sports PPV record, selling an estimated 1.6 million purchases in the UK, in addition to an estimated 200K new subscription purchases with a total of 1.8 million viewers on DAZN USA.
Despite receiving two boxing ultimatums from both the IBF and the WBO, it's safe to say the 30-year-old Heavyweight can fight whomever he wants, whenever he wants.
Anthony Joshua is currently experiencing the "Floyd Mayweather Effect".
For years, the fact that Floyd Mayweather could seemingly pick and choose his opposition without any slide in popularity drove die-hard boxing fans insane. The five-division world champion's popularity rose to the point where pressure from any sanctioning organization to face their respective "mandatory" ceased to exist.
When issued an empty ultimatum from any of the "alphabet soup" sanctioning organizations, Floyd would merely reply, "Belts don't make Floyd Mayweather...Floyd Mayweather makes the belts."
Canelo is another fighter that seemingly enjoys a very high level of fiscal influence at this point in his career.
Although bound to a multi-fight contractual obligation from DAZN, Canelo can seemingly jump in and out of various weight classes without any objection from Golden Boy Promotions, DAZN or most importantly his fans; fighting any "worthy" opponent while continually making all of the aforementioned factions happy.
What happened when Alvarez wasn't interested in facing his WBC Middleweight mandatory challenger in 2019?
The mighty World Boxing Council magnanimously fabricated a new title for the popular Mexican fighter, deeming Canelo the new WBC "Franchise" Champion. The money-making organization understands the current situation and will always succumb to the "Floyd Mayweather business philosophy" in which they need the popular fighter's 3% more than he needs their belt.
Has Anthony Joshua's level of popularity reached that kind of influence?
Of course, many of AJ's critics will continuously regurgitate the same empty rhetoric spewed year after year by the usual hard-core "fans" of boxing.
"He needs to fight 'Boxer X' in order to stay relevant!"
Or my personal favorite, "He has to fight in America and take on the 'Big Boys' in order to be considered the best!"
Does Joshua currently need Deontay Wilder or the American boxing market in order to stay relevant? Does the immensely popular British fighter need any major world title around his waist to determine his worth in today's boxing market?
Joe Calzaghe once characterized competing in the USA as being "overrated" and unnecessary. The popular Welsh fighter ended his Hall of Fame career with two bouts in America against Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. respectively but insisted that he made more money competing in the UK while fighting in front of a more appreciative group of fans.
While boxing in the UK is currently its third most popular pastime, perpetually trailing football and cricket, the "sweet science" has been reduced to a fringe pastime in America, not even cracking the top 5.
Boxing currently sits at number six in terms of popularity in the USA...well behind football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer.
It is the only sport in which American fans consistently have to pay to view.
The overwhelming answer to the million-dollar question is a resounding NO. Anthony Joshua doesn't need Deontay Wilder, any specific world title or the American boxing public to maintain his level of popularity...he merely needs to keep winning and stay active.
So the next time the current WBC Heavyweight titleholder receives an offer to fight opposite Anthony Joshua for a fraction of the projected purse, he would be wise to jump at the opportunity. Is the American knock-out artist entitled to a 50/50 split of the purse at this time?
Of course not. A 70/30 split is even debatable at this point.
Even if Wilder fought for 20% of a projected $100 million dollar fight against Joshua, his cut would far exceed any of his previous paydays. Deontay would more than likely have to fight several times against any other fighter to match that number.
The rest of the heavyweights may not like it, but they'd better learn to live with it...as of right now, all roads in the heavyweight division lead to Anthony Joshua.