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Why heavyweight unification between Anthony Joshua and Wilder/Fury makes more 'cents' in the UK

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Joseph Herron Updated
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On February 22nd, current WBC Heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder will defend his coveted strap against undefeated former lineal champion Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although most fans are aware that the "Bronze Bomber's" belt will indeed be on the line, an ostensibly more precious and lucrative commodity will be at stake...American mainstream awareness.

According to most interested observers, Wilder and Fury currently sit atop the competitive Heavyweight division with a consensus 1 and 2 ranking. While most fans and critics seem to be split in their respective assessments, most are in agreement that the two giant combatants are the two best heavyweights in the world...at least on paper.

But when discussing mainstream and casual fan attraction, there's one clear, inordinate Heavyweight champion, and he's from Watford, Hertfordshire, England.

Like it or not, Anthony Joshua is the overwhelming monetary draw of the boxing giants.

Both men competing in the ring on February 22nd hope that status changes dramatically...it'll have to if they want a bigger piece of a proposed unification purse in 2020 and beyond.

When asked where a potential unification bout should be held in 2020, the current IBF/WBO/WBA Heavyweight champion seemed resolute in his response.

"80,000 to 100,000 people...or somewhere else that is a stadium floor of 15,000 people? Do you know what I mean? It makes sense here, so," Anthony Joshua recently told iFL TV. "I'm just trying to do what makes sense."

"That's probably what's holding it (heavyweight unification) up because we want it here. Obviously there are broadcasters, but we have to look at what makes sense...who the biggest draw is in the division. Sometimes you've got to go to the other side of the pond to get that work."

"Obviously in 2020 I'll be fighting back on home soil."

Indeed it makes perfect "business" sense if you're Anthony Joshua.

The former Olympic gold medalist hasn't fought on his home turf since knocking out Alexander Povetkin in September of 2018, in a fight which took place in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London, England. In 2019, AJ uncharacteristically competed in America and Saudi Arabia exclusively.  It's only natural that Joshua would prefer to compete in front of the fans who made him a household name in England during the 2020 calendar year.

Of course, should Tyson Fury win on February 22nd, a suggested unification bout between the self-proclaimed Gypsy King and AJ would make the most sense to be staged within the United Kingdom. Both men are British natives, and would more than likely be competing in the biggest British boxing event in the sport's rich history...both critically and financially.

Should Wilder prove to be victorious on February 22nd, a lot would have to change in order to demand a unification bout stateside.

For starters, Deontay's mainstream appeal would have to improve considerably.

Although the Bronze Bomber's brand has increased considerably after creating two highlight-reel knock-outs in 2019, the 34-year-old fighter is still searching for a mainstream audience. Although the US is a much larger market than the British Isles, the sport of boxing is considered to be a fringe pastime in America with only a few noticeable mainstream attractions...and unfortunately, Wilder is not one of them.

But here's the worst part for Wilder...even if he were to dramatically increase his demand in America, the current WBO/IBF/WBA Heavyweight champion has little to no fanbase in the US.  Despite achieving rockstar status in Britain, the English born fighter is a virtual unknown among mainstream American sports fans.  One could argue that Fury vs. Wilder 1,2 & 3 are much bigger fights stateside than a proposed unification bout featuring Anthony Joshua.

So yes...Joshua is correct when he states a unification bout with either Fury or Wilder makes more fiscal sense to be held in England.

Not only can AJ sell out stadiums, he also has plenty of commercial mainstream endorsement to support his financial demands. According to the UK Telegraph, Joshua currently has 13 notable commercial sponsors, which include Under Armour, Beats by Dre, and Jaguar.

How many lucrative commercial endorsements or sponsors does Wilder currently enjoy?

It seems to expose the biggest difference between the two fighters, now doesn't it?

Everything for Deontay Wilder theoretically hinges on not only a decisive victory against Tyson Fury on February 22nd, but more importantly a greater mainstream awareness in America in 2020. Without an increase in popularity among US sports fans, Dee's place at the negotiation table is minimal at best.

Right now, it's hard to ignore that Anthony Joshua currently holds all of the cards financially in the Heavyweight division.

But everything can change with a single win or loss in the theater of the unexpected that is boxing.

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