Joshua to be the first billionaire boxing professional?

Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua’s next goal – to be the first 11-figure earner in sports. He is thought to have earned more than £15 million (INR 123 Cr) already from his boxing career – after just 19 fights. In only his 19th fight as a professional, Joshua defended his world title against Wladimir Klitschko with an 11th round knockout in front of 90,000 people at Wembley. He is thought to have earned himself a cool £6.5 million (Rs 53.3 Cr) in the process – and is now at the top table when it comes to commanding fees.

The 27-year-old now holds the IBF, WBA and IBO belts, and his stunning performances and likable persona appeal beyond the boundary of normal boxing fans. Box office fights with Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and perhaps even Klitschko once again await down the line for the 27-year-old. But Joshua seems to have bigger plans with pushing the boundaries not only for boxing’s but the whole of sports.

Sports promoter Barry Hearn, father of Joshua’s promoter Eddie, thinks the heavyweight has a greater worldwide appeal than Beckham, with a number of companies lining up to sign him to sponsorship deals. Joshua already has lucrative deals with Beats by Dre, Apple, Lucozade, Sky Sports and Under Armour – among other – and Hearn expects there to be a flood of others to come.

“He’s already a wealthy man. He could easily be the first billionaire in boxing,” The Sun has quoted Hearn as saying. “He’s still young. At 27 he has at least ten years ahead of him in the ring and if he keeps winning the money will keep coming. His commercial potential outside the ring is huge, way beyond Beckham and the world’s top footballers. He has a much bigger crossover in terms of potential,” he added.

The projection is based on two “super-fights” per year for the next five years, backed up by American TV deals with the likes of Showtime – where one of his prospective opponents, WBC champion Deontany Wilder, has an exclusive contract.

No boxer has ever achieved the dream of 10-figure earnings yet. However, Joshua is thought to have much potential than the likes of bigger athletes. According to Forbes, only three sportsmen have been able to reach such a mark. Topping their list is Michael Jordan with his overall earning amounting to £1.32 bn (INR 10,824 Cr). This earning is supplemented by his ongoing deal with Nike for his brand of trainers. Following him is the American golfer-Tiger Woods with his career earning of £1.28 bn (INR 10,496 Cr). This is in accordance with his long-running EA Sports link-up and an added Nike deal. And the other athlete to reach this mark was Arnold Palmer, the great golfer who also has his brand of beverages in the market. His earning has been estimated to be around £1.04 bn (INR 8,528 Cr). No other athlete has ever touched the mark.

Considering boxers tally, Oscar De La Hoya, a 10-time world champion is estimated by Forbes to have earned around £405m (INR 3,321 Cr) throughout his career. While Mike Tyson’s career revenues are valued at £544m (INR 4461 Cr) by Forbes. This also includes his WWE and Hollywood films’ earnings. Topping the list is the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of his generation and star of some of the highest-grossing fights in history, Floyd “Money” Mayweather. He is estimated to have made over £600m (INR 4,920 Cr) in his career – by far and away boxing’s premier money-spinner.

That’s how far Joshua is from that billion-pound benchmark. The 27-year old has a long way to go. However, he and his promoter seem pretty confident about his reaching the billionaire mark.