Anthony Joshua’s power, personality and elusive fight with Deontay Wilder will make his name in America, says manager Freddie Cunningham.
Striding into the cavernous arena, flanked by familiar faces holding bejewelled belts aloft, Joshua will take those first steps into the unknown territory of America in less than a fortnight.
Britain’s unified champion has plunged his triumphant flag firmly into home soil following title triumphs at grandiose stadiums, but Cunningham, his long-term manager, recognises the importance of wowing the US public, while their WBC champion Wilder watches on.
It starts with the fighting, his style, what he brings to the ring, Cunningham told Sky Sports. The knockout will be the first part.
Outside of it, I think it’s just being himself. If you’re one of those guys that maybe talks the talk you only go so far. You need to be a bit wider and he’s got all the ingredients, he’s personable.
I think the American public like him as well. They seem to get on well with him, it’s just showcasing who he is. Do everything in the ring, everything exciting there, and he can showcase who he is.
The WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO champion faces Andy Ruiz Jr at a stamping ground of the stars – Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office – and Joshua wants to introduce himself with a trademark devastating win.
Wilder has already blazed a warning sign to Joshua on the streets of New York, demolishing Dominic Breazeale in a ruthless performance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn that requested the Brit to proceed with caution. America’s reigning king again hinted at a fight with Joshua, even suggesting he could be staring at his rival from ringside at The Garden.
Amid fresh calls for the two champions to meet, Joshua’s team remain insistent that a Wilder fight needs to occur in the near future, if they are to enthral a massive new audience.
He’s obviously got a huge record, and he’s got the final belt, Cunningham added. All those bits to it make it mega and it will accelerate our popularity in the US, if that fight happens, and it has to.
It has to and soon rather than later, there’s only so much different broadcasters can get in the way.
Joshua was denied a Wembley showdown with Wilder after negotiations broke down earlier this year, prompting AJ to cross the Atlantic in a statement fight that will issue a fresh challenge to his rival champion.
I think you can see from his whole narrative, he wants it badly, we wanted it badly last fight, Cunningham said. We did everything we could to get it for April 13. It just wasn’t the case, so if this goes well and he gets the result we think he might, he’s gone to Wilder’s territory and made a name.
He hasn’t just said I’m here in the UK, this is my market, come to me. He’s gone ‘Right, I’ve come and fought in your backyard. I’ve made a name for myself here, we can do it anywhere.’
Ruiz Jr, a Californian-based Mexican with deceptively fast hands is the immediate priority for Joshua, who can demonstrate his greatest hits at a venue that will stage a Billy Joel concert the following evening.
Provided that Joshua emerges victorious, then attention turns back to Wilder, and possible back-to-back battles for all the world belts in the States and Britain.
I think if the fight is going to happen, it’s going to be a two-fight deal whatever, so it’s going to be one here and one there, Cunningham said.
It makes sense to do it that way. They are both huge names in their territories. Why not give the fans in America what they want and give the British fans what they want, so I think it will happen, possibly both, but I don’t know which way around.
Watch Anthony Joshua’s US debut against Andy Ruiz Jr, Katie Taylor’s undisputed world lightweight title fight, and the undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office.