Mancuso: This Is Anthony Joshua

Madison Square Garden is the so-called “Mecca” of boxing and this Saturday evening and next the venue will stage two championship fights.  Saturday night we will learn more about Anthony Joshua, his United States debut as heavyweight champion after getting to this point with immense popularity in the UK.

Next Saturday, the fighter known as “GGG” Gennady Golovkin, of the Ukraine, opposes Steve Rolls in a super middleweight fight. Joshua and Golovkin will be televised by DAZN the steaming subscription service and looking to increase their fan base with both fighters in the spotlight.

But the attention is about Anthony Joshua and his defense against Andy Ruiz Jr. That’s for the  IBF, WBA, and the WBO titles. Deontay Wilder defended his WBC portion of the title at the Barclays Center two weeks ago which has put the heavyweight title in a New York spotlight.

For now, it’s all about Anthony Joshua. His debut in the United States was his request  and at the Garden where he wanted it to be. He has this opportunity to become that face of the heavyweight division. With Matchroom Boxing and DAZN Network behind him, Joshua is in good hands.

Credit: Adam Caceres

And the opponent, Andy Ruiz Jr. is looking to be the next Buster Douglas. You remember, 1990 at the Tokyo Dome in Japan? Douglas, perhaps, got the biggest upset in boxing and sports history with a historic win over Mike Tyson.

However, Ruiz Jr, who once held the WBO alphabet title, and with a brief reign, is a heavy underdog. Unless Anthony Joshua freezes for some reason with a throng of fans from the UK at the Garden, this fight won’t go down as one of epic proportions.

Of course, you can’t underestimate any fighter as anything is possible and the underdog believes that is more motivation. Also, a lot rides on this fight for Joshua. He looks to get a step closer and unify the heavyweight titles against the PBC managed Wilder, if and when the fight can be made with different promoters, television, and streaming rights.

Credit: Adam Caceras

And of course with huge money on the table,  an eventual unification bout will occur, perhaps next year to give enough time to negotiate in good faith. Wilder has a rematch set with Luis Ortiz to be announced. Tyson Fury is another part of this title picture and scheduled to get in the ring for the first time next month with a new promotional deal at Top Rank.

So with all the business and basics behind him, you need to know more about Anthony Joshua. He is athletic, strong, and knows how to make money. He can be the face of the heavyweight division but Deontay Wilder is also right there.

And Madison Square Garden could be a venue that proclaims Joshua as the heavyweight champion and do it more than once as  it was with Ali, Frazier, Holmes, and many before them. It is the “Mecca” and Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, also sees this as a marketing tool.

“It’s not so much about Wilder,” said Joshua Thursday afternoon at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan where he faced off with Ruiz Jr. (32-1-21 KO’s for the first time. ““It’s more about what I can achieve, because when we look at what we’re doing, in terms of like working outside of boxing, commercializing the sport in our own field.”

Ruiz Jr, Is seeking to become the first heavyweight champion from Mexico. Brooklyn’s  Jarrell Miller, who made a spectacle in front of Joshua was lifted as the original opponent after failing three drug tests.  

But Saturday night this is all about the clean and drug free Anthony Joshua. Not to take anything away from Golovkin and his fight next week, which could set up a third one with Canelo Alvarez, and “GGG” is in that top ten best fighter category, but Anthony Joshua has that potential to be the face of boxing.

Fighting in New York will increase his exposure and marketing efforts. And a boxing fan coming to see this will realize up close as to why Anthony Joshua is so popular in the UK, where he has fought before more than 80,000 at venues more than once.

He makes money and creates a buzz in the sport and heavyweight division. And all you have to understand is, as Joshua said Thursday afternoon, understand what he is after. That fight with Deontay Wilder is an inevitable clash with lots of money to be made.

“Wilder’s still building his profile and stuff like that, so it’s not so much about Wilder. It’s that undisputed.” he said.  Yes, the undisputed heavyweight championship and why not at Madison Square Garden?

There are a few thousand tickets remaining before Saturday and it’s expected to sell out. A good undercard is also a prelude to the main event. But they will all be there to see a major part of this heavyweight title and get the answers about how good Anthony Joshua can be.

Comment: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso


About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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