Heavyweight hero Anthony Joshua has been told fighting Deontay Wilder can make him the biggest sporting star on the planet.
Joshua defends his IBF and WBA Super belts against Kubrat Pulev at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday, October 28.
And seven days later, Wilder puts his WBC belt on the line against Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz in New York.
Joshua and Wilder could then meet and according to US expert Steve Farhood, that fight can make Joshua a global star.
“Joshua has the potential to be the biggest man in sport, not just boxing,” said Farhood, who has worked as an analyst for US TV on Joshua’s world-title fights and was this summer added to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
“He’s not just a good-looking heavyweight puncher, he understands it’s about what you do outside the ring as well.
“With fighters like Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight champion stood for something bigger than just the title and we have lost that in recent years.
To get as big as them, Joshua needs playmates – and the obvious one is Deontay Wilder.”
According to Farhood, Joshua versus Wilder could be one of the biggest heavyweight fights in decades.
“That has the potential to be one of the biggest heavyweight fights of the last 40 years, up there with Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks and Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko. These are the fights that make the heavyweight division what it is.
“The Joshua-Wilder fight needs time to marinate, as promoters like to say, and there might be fights between now and that happening that may not excite fans. Kubrat Pulev and Luis Ortiz are good fighters, but they aren’t big names.”
Farhood says that before Joshua meets Wilder, he needs to fight in the States.
“The Wilder fight needs a US pay-per-view audience and to get that, Joshua needs exposure in the States,” he said.
“We need to see him in the States.
“Joshua still hasn’t fought over here and if he wants the recognition Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have had, he needs to fight in Las Vegas.
“But when you can draw 90,000 fans to Wembley Stadium, do you need Las Vegas ? Joshua is in an interesting position.”
Hearn was hoping a Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko rematch would happen in Vegas in November.
But Klitschko turned down £20 million for the fight and decided to retire.
“The fight between Joshua and Klitschko went beyond everyone’s expectations,” said Farhood, who was ringside for Joshua’s back-from-the-brink 11th-round stoppage at Wembley Stadium in April.
“If you were writing a script, you couldn’t have written it any better. That was in many ways the best performance of Klitschko’s career. He enhanced his reputation more that night than in all his wins and as for Joshua, everyone now wants to see his next fight.
“I’m not that disappointed the rematch isn’t happening because I think the outcome was predictable.”