Promoter Eddie Hearn has set Anthony Joshua a simple to-do list: first knock out Carlos Takam on Saturday night, then conquer the world in 2018.
The Matchroom boss says the anticipated 78,000 crowd that will watch Joshua defend his IBF and WBA belts against the unfancied Takam demonstrates in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium demonstrates the level of mass support the heavyweight now commands in Britain.
But in toppling Wladimir Klitschko in April, Joshua cemented his position as champion of the world — a mantle Hearn intends him to live up to.
“He’s world heavyweight champion and not British heavyweight champion so you want to take him around the world,” Hearn told City A.M.
“It’s a work in progress but we’re building Anthony Joshua as a global brand and his shows are resonating around the world.
“This fight and the Klitshcko fight has been picked up by every major broadcaster. The images that are being beamed back to these countries are iconic — 90,000 at Wembley, it develops his appeal worldwide. In 2018 we’ll definitely see a fight in a new territory for Anthony Joshua, whether that’s America, Africa or the Middle East.”
China is another option that has been touted, although unlike the aforementioned Matchroom have yet to receive an offer to host Joshua in the growing Far East sports market.
Wherever the champion does fight, Hearn says he will be looking for a location that can guarantee the same kind of frenzied atmosphere expected during Saturday’s fight, for which StubHub is official ticket partner.
“It [China] is definitely on the agenda,” said Hearn. “But we’re not actively pursuing a partnership in the Far East.
“Boxing’s on the rise over there, but it’s not in the same phase as Britain or America. The Middle East is more about one-off extravaganzas. Nigeria, with Anthony’s heritage, would be important.
“But we’re not interested in going to a 1,000 seater stadium just because a government puts up a huge amount of money. These are events, these are spectacles and we don’t want to jeopardise what is coming through the screens.”
America could well be the best bet for a first test outside Britain. Matchroom USA launched earlier this year and Hearn is eyeing a potential showdown against American WBC world champion Deontay Wilder next summer.
“We could make the Wilder fight next but it could be twice as big in six to nine months time as it is now,” said Hearn.
“Joshua wants the belts. It’s important to him that he becomes undisputed heavyweight champion by the end of 2018.”