Two days before he was scheduled to try to defend his heavyweight titles against the undefeated Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua sat at a news conference on Thursday in London, his hat, headphones and even water bottles positioned to make sponsor logos visible to the cameras.
A long list of companies has invested in Joshua, the 31-year-old British boxing star: Under Armour, his apparel provider; Beats by Dre, the headphones maker; Matchroom Boxing, the promoter with which Joshua signed a lifetime contract this week. And Joshua, who is 24-1 with 22 knockouts, spoke as though Saturday’s bout against Usyk, an undefeated 34-year-old from Ukraine, was not just a contest but also an economic stimulus package. He told reporters he felt responsible for providing a platform and a payday for fighters on the undercard of an event expected to attract nearly 70,000 spectators to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I’m going to work hard, try and bring attention to boxing so it benefits everyone, not just me,” Joshua said. “I don’t promote boxing because I want to be famous. I promote it because I want everyone to benefit from it.”
The card on Saturday comes at the end of two tumultuous weeks in the boxing industry. On Sept. 11, the retired mixed martial arts fighter Vitor Belfort overwhelmed the 58-year-old former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in a pay-per-view bout that, depending on one’s perspective, showcased either the peak or the rock-bottom of the recent trend of novelty fights.