In the current boxing climate where it is the norm for fighters to attack each other with an array of verbal abuse before their fights – Anthony Joshua is an anomaly.
Joseph Parker, the New Zealander who Joshua will fight next March for the WBO belt, recently launched a barrage of verbal abuse aimed at Joshua in an attempt to get under his skin – yet Joshua opted not to ‘trash-talk’ back.
Parker described Joshua, the holder of the WBA, IBF and IBO world titles, as a “king of steroids” and attacked Joshua’s fighting style by suggesting he has a “glass chin”. David Higgins, Parker’s promoter, even suggested that Parker is “mentally tougher” than Joshua in an attempt to anger the calm and collected Joshua.
“Joshua has a better jaw than most but not a better jaw than Parker” – David Higgins, Parker’s promoter.
Joshua did reply to comments from the Parker camp but did not actively seek to anger or get under the skin of Joseph Parker. Joshua even suggested that a lot of the trash-talking that occured was highly irrelevant – Joshua stated how “The verbal wars come before the physical wars, it’s part of the game. I’ll fight him in the car park for free, that’s what a fighter’s mentality is”. Seemingly, Joshua is not a fan of “the game” before big fights that many boxers of the past have indulged in.
“I’ll fight him in the car park for free, that’s what a fighter’s mentality is” – Anthony Joshua
For me, this is extremely refreshing to see a fighter who is solely focused on their upcoming fight rather than the verbal war that occurs beforehand. In recent times, a number of high profile fighters have been heavily criticized for comments they have made in attempts to aggravate and antagonize their opponents.
David Haye, another former heavyweight champion, and Tony Bellew, a former cruiserweight title holder, are two fighters who crossed the line when it came to trash-talking. Last year, the two British boxers made highly disrespectful comments to each other ahead of their fight – in which Bellew came out victorious. Haye told Soccer AM how “I’ve never had a fight where I really wanted to cave someone’s skull in like this, ever” and described Bellew’s Liverpudlian fans as “scum of the earth” and “F****** retards” in a press conference.
“I’ve never had a fight where I really wanted to cave someone’s skull in like this, ever” – David Haye on Tony Bellew
Comments like these are often proved to be false and deceitful also. The two fighters embraced each other at the end of the fight and have organised a rematch – and it is highly likely that the trash-talking will start again ahead of this rematch in another attempt to sell out the chosen venue.
Trash-talking is often used to sell fights – just look at Connor Mcgregor and Floyd Mayweather. The fight was seemingly a non-contest, it was highly likely that an undefeated boxer would beat an unexperienced martial arts fighter in a boxing ring. Yet, the fight made record breaking sales due to Mayweather and Mcgregor’s fierce battle of insults. The total revenue was supposedly in the range of around £550 million – arguably most of the people who payed to watch this contest had been drawn in by the trash-talking rather than the fight itself. Seemingly, trash-talking is the best way to attract casual fans – so why does Joshua choose not to agitate and rile his opposition.
It is highly stimulating to see a fighter in Anthony Joshua who does not see the need to trash-talk to sell a fight – boxing fans flock to Joshua fights. Wembley, which has a capacity of 90,000, was sold out for his historic bout with Wladimir Klitschko – and there was little trash-talk from Joshua in the lead up to the fight. Joshua doesn’t sell fights with words but instead with his phenomenal skillset and impressive personality.
Anthony Joshua alone is a brand. His reputation as a humble and good-willed fighter is something that must be maintained for the popularity of his ‘brand’. This is another reason Joshua chooses not to antagonize opponents with scathing comments. Joshua, in his current respectful and well-spoken manner, is one of the most marketable athletes in the world and has attracted a number of high profile brands such as Lucozade, Beats and Under Armour. Joshua’s persona can be compared to other high profile athletes such as tennis legend Roger Federer – another highly marketable athlete who also attracts a wide range of sponsors and brands and will continue to do so much longer after his retirement – possibly something Joshua wishes to achieve.
Joshua breaks the mould of the current, trash-talking fighters. He brought the public’s interest back to the heavyweight division alone without a need for verbally abusing other fighters and will continue to sell out arenas and stadiums in the future with his personality and skill set alone.