Anthony Joshua pledges lifelong loyalty to Matchroom Boxing family
For WBA, WBO, and IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua (24-1, 22 KO’s), its fight week. On Saturday, September 25, Joshua will defend his titles against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KO’s). Many believe that the decorated former undisputed cruiserweight champion has an excellent chance of dethroning AJ. Yet, on the eve of this thrilling showdown, Joshua is making headlines with news exclusive to him. This is due to penning an unspecified career-long contract extension with Matchroom Boxing.
Second generation fight promoter Eddie Hearn helms the promotional outfit. Joshua has remained a loyal acolyte of the since going pro. The silver tongued promoter, along with his father and Matchroom Boxing founder, Barry Hearn, recognized his potential and signed AJ in 2013. Even so, it didn’t require the critical examination of a seasoned promoter to spot his talent. The amiable pugilist was physically built for battle and carried formidable power in his fists. Even better, he had a ready-for-market personality and was a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. Naturally, it was a no-brainer to secure the potential future gold mine.
True, there is no mystery as to why Matchroom Boxing was initially interested in Joshua. Still, credit must be given for actually retaining him. And by this same token, further kudos must be bestowed for locking the unified champion up for however many more years that they have. Clearly, Joshua is happy with the services that Matchroom Boxing has provided.
LOYALTY OVER DOLLARS
More times than is comfortable to think about, the business of boxing is sleazier than R Kelly’s thoughts at a junior high pep rally. Smiles often precede soul-searing swindles and treacherous faux-allies frequently reveal themselves to be cunning parasites. Obviously this is not the case for Anthony Joshua. He holds the loyalty and integrity of his promotional team in high regard.
“We’ve built some great foundations over the years and I appreciate Matchroom – the company, the team, the family business. That’s kind of what drew me towards you guys as well, the integrity that the Hearn’s have when it comes to boxing and business. I’ve felt comfortable during my years as a boxer and I always felt that the business outside of sport is harder than the actual fighting due to the history and some of the problems that some fighters have had. So, to be with Matchroom Sport has been a blessing for myself, my family and my team.
Outside of that, what Matchroom Sport have done is created an environment for boxing fans. The shows that we have managed to put on have been phenomenal. When I walk out to fight, I look around and I’m like, ‘mate, this is unbelievable’. From where we began, to the middle of the journey, the foundations we have created are phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
In my humble opinion, what better place to be than Matchroom Boxing? I have heard that my signature was hot property. I’m happy where I am…Thank you to Eddie Hearn, Barry Hearn and the family, Frank Smith and all of the Matchroom staff, as well as Freddie Cunningham and the team at 258MGT.”
SOLID TRACK RECORD
It’s no secret that Hearn is far from a universally loved figure. He himself has admitted that, even in his native UK, there is a tremendous contingent of boxing fans who love to hate him. Likewise, when the front man for DAZN’s boxing arm spearheaded the US invasion, he nearly instantly got off on the wrong foot. From the second that his foot hit American soil, he turned off scores of people with his smug cocky promise to become the new kingpin of the boxing game. Again, even he himself admits that this was a grand overstep.
Despite his follies or open foes, Hearn has largely forged a strong bond with his marquee fighters. Boxers such as WBC super featherweight champion Terri Harper, unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor, WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade. Even boxing cash cow and unified super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has been professionally smitten with Hearn’s services. Yet, these names alone, along with Joshua’s, makes for one impressive stable of fighters. So just as it’s no shock that Matchroom gobbled up AJ right away, it’s not exactly a jaw-dropper to hear he is happy to keep his feet kicked up where he’s at.
By: Bakari Simpson