It is just over a week since Anthony Joshua, IBF heavyweight champion of the world, barely broke a sweat in beating challenger Eric Molina. Mere minutes after Joshua easily cleared the meek Molina out of the ring at the Manchester Arena, former pound-for-pound champ Wladimir Klitschko jumped in and in a well choreographed moment of drama challenged Britain’s most popular boxer to a potential mega fight.
Of course, in reality, the fight had been agreed weeks before with Molina offered up as a potential banana skin ahead of this huge fight. Immediately after Klitschko left the ring, both his own K2 Promotions and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing (Joshua’s promoter) had gone into full overdrive to flood social media with promotional materials for the fight.
For both promotions, however, the fight means two different things. For Matchroom, pitting Joshua against a legitimate legend (who holds the second longest heavyweight championship reign in history), will raise his already considerable personal brand (in just 18 fights) into the stratosphere and push his popularity beyond just boxing fans. Meanwhile for K2, following his crushing defeat to maverick Tyson Fury over a year ago, it offers the aging Klitschko (at 40 years of age), likely his final chance of a huge payday and also a chance to cement his legacy.
However, both promotions will be delighted that both hardcore boxing fans and also the wider public will be captivated by this fight, meaning that pay-per-view buys will undoubtedly break records.
For Matchroom though, there could be clouds on the horizon, despite their lucrative and very productive partnership with Sky Sports (which runs up until 2021) and their long held position as Britain’s most profitable boxing promotion. In November, longtime rival, Frank Warren signed a multiyear TV broadcast deal with the other heavyweight of sports broadcasting in the UK, BT Sport. Next year it will see Warren’s promotion broadcast 20 cards exclusively on BT and likely couldn’t come at a better time, as his Boxnation TV station has long struggled to turn a profit.
With BT Sport’s undoubted financial muscle now behind Warren (who was once the darling of Sky Sports, before venturing off to start Boxnation), Matchroom’s dominance could finally be challenged next year.
However, much remains in the air, as the quality of Warren’s and BT Sport’s upcoming cards has yet to become clear, and Hearn’s promotion still has a genuine blockbuster of a fight to come. Business in the boxing world is about to pick up.