Nigeria’s Anthony Or Britain’s Joshua By Babalola Omotola James

I know you might be surprised by the title of this discourse. I am referring to the same golden boy who is currently being celebrated all over the world as the undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing, the Anthony Joshua of our time. His unification fight with Joseph Parker was publicized globally. Most Nigerians supported him out of brotherly love because he was of a Nigerian descent; he has some Yoruba names, Oluwafemi Olaseni. As the fight drew near, doubts filled the minds of most sport-loving Nigerians. Worries of him losing the fight thereby losing his hard earned titles just like the former Nigerian heavyweight boxer, Samuel Okon Peter who lost his WBC title to Vitali Klitschko in 2008. Others were more concerned about the implication of his loss on their diverse stakes in various betting platforms throughout the country. I observed the pulses and feelings of the nation via the social media most especially the Nairaland.

As I waited patiently for the outcome of the fight, a disturbing question erupted from the depths of my mind. This question summarises the aspirations and dreams of the Nigerian youths. This same question also captures the frustrations and challenges facing the Nigerian youth in this geopolitical boundary called Nigeria. This question continuously nagged my sceptical mind and it goes thus: “if Mr Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua did not travel to a foreign land at an early stage, would he have fulfilled his dream as a professional heavyweight champion? Deep within me, I have some answers. It is either Mr Joshua turns out to be a thug or a bully if he discovered his boxing talent in Nigeria or he would have joined the thousands of Nigerian youths whose talents and destinies have been manipulated by the Nigerian society. He might still be attending some various motivational seminars and talks on how to discover and maximise his talents just like numerous Nigerian youths. Funnily, Mr Joshua might not have turned out well. The limitations of logistics and inadequate nutrition pillaging and frustrating the ambitions of various youths might hinder his progress in Nigeria. You might think I am painting a gloomy situation about the conditions needed for the talent discovery and development in Nigeria. Kindly look at other boxers that represent the country in the commonwealth games and other international competitions, most times, they sadly have to beg for financial and logistical support from the government before going for competitions. Would Mr Joshua have been a heavyweight champion under this oppressive and frustrating environment? Personally, I doubt it! In this country, it is mostly the rich that benefit maximally from government allocations at the expense of the poor that actually need them. The rich benefit from improved nutrition and other expensive trainings that are out of the reach of the poor but talented boxers.

Unlike Nigeria, the United Kingdom provided a suitable environment for young Joshua to discover and hone his talents which made him to be a professional boxer. Mr Joshua does not need to know the “right” person just to be discovered. He does not need to contend with nepotism that plagues the Nigerian state. He does not need to battle with the ethnicism and corruption that haunts those representing Nigeria in international competitions. He just needed to develop himself with the available resources that were useful to his professional development. It is a heart- wrenching moment of truth when the reality hits you like a moving truck. The reality goes thus: this British citizen of Nigerian descent would not be a star if he had remained in Nigeria. So why should we think he is ours when we even rejected him when he wanted to represent Nigeria in Olympics. That is the saddening reality of our time. Nigerians leave the country as raw diamonds only to be polished into stars. Paradoxically, the country that refused to develop them claims them when they are accomplished. Still the same old mentality of importation that besieged our manufacturing sector has clandestinely crept to our human capital sector. We export raw materials and import processed products. This is not sustainable in the long run. Mr Bill Gates emphasized on this point when he visited Nigeria some weeks ago. He said that Nigeria needs to develop her human capital along with her physical infrastructural developments.

There are numerous ‘demons’ that militate against human capital development in Nigeria. The situation where a Nigerian has to leave his country to be a better person beyond the shores of the country is a saddening realisation of a failed Nigerian state. We all know these ‘demons’ – corruption, nepotism, poor leadership, etc. Among these challenges, I believe that the major solution that will exorcise these evil spirits is good leadership. The Nigerian government has to show quality leadership that will harness the immense potentials of her citizens. Good leadership will bring hope to the depressed and frustrated Nigerian youths.

Addressing these ‘demons’ frustrating the actualisation of the Nigerian dream coupled with good leadership skills exemplified by people in positions of power will make the Nigerian citizens especially the youths to believe in the dream of a glorious and prosperous Nigeria. If these challenges are not quickly addressed, the Arab Spring revolution will be a child’s play when the frustrations of the Nigerian youths break their dams.

Big Baby Challenges Joshua To Fight In America

Anthony Joshua has been dared to fight in America by Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, who has taunted “he’s not as powerful as he thinks”.

Joshua has for sometime been linked with a Stateside debut although, moments after he defeated Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday to unify the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts, he claimed,  “We’re staying right here.”

Unbeaten New York contender Miller has laughed at those words and has invited and challenged Joshua to box in his home city this summer.

“Hell yeah, I will welcome him to New York. We can make the fight happen,” Miller exclusively told Skysports.

“He is definitely taking (American fighters)  lightly because he had a good experience with Charles Martin.

“It’s hilarious. Who have I fought to earn a title shot? Who did AJ fight to earn a title shot? Hilarious.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn indicated that Miller was a future option last month, telling Skysports,  “Jarrell Miller is a real possibility.

“He’s a threat. He’s got a great engine, he’s got great work-rate as well and he’s confident that he beats  Joshua.

“We feel like we need to go out and make a defence in the US.”

Miller is ranked No 3 by the IBF, WBA and WBO – the belts that Joshua now holds – but must first aim to stay unbeaten in his 22nd fight, against Johann Duhaupas, this month.

Wilder Ready To Take On Joshua In UK – Manager

Deontay Wilder is prepared  to travel across the Atlantic to face Britain’s Anthony Joshua in a bout to determine the undisputed  world heavyweight champion, the American’s co-manager said  on Monday.

Joshua called out Wilder immediately after a 12-round points win over New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in Cardiff on Saturday that saw him add the World Boxing Organisation belt to the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles he is having.

That win, his first professional success that did not come by way of knockout, saw London 2012 gold medallist Joshua stretch his unbeaten record in the paid ranks to 21 wins from as many bouts.

But that still leaves World Boxing Council champion Wilder, unbeaten in 40 professional contests.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, insisted after the Parker fight that Wilder’s camp “don’t want” a unification bout.

But Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, told Daily Telegraph newspaper on Monday,  “We are really glad that Anthony Joshua said for the first time ‘I will fight Deontay next…’ and we believe he is a man of his word. Deontay accepts the challenge.

“We want to make it public that Deontay wants the fight… Deontay is ready to sign and come to the UK to fight this summer.”

Finkel said he would be prepared for the fight to go ahead at London’s 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium.

“Assuming it will be Wembley Stadium in the summer, we are ready, and if they are ready as they say they are, we want to get it done. We want the fight, they want the fight, the public wants the fight. There is nothing to stop it going ahead.”

Finkel, a veteran of the boxing scene, added,  “When I had (Mike) Tyson and (Evander) Holyfield, I picked up the phone. That’s all we need to do here.

“We are ready. Let’s make the fight.”

Hearn, speaking after Joshua’s unanimous points defeat of Parker, said,  “I will present the deal to Anthony but it has to be the right deal.

“It’s not really about Wilder, it is about us. We will sit down over the next couple of weeks and plan out the rest of 2018. It’s his (Joshua’s) call on how many times he wants to fight this year.”

“I’m not into the hype, I’m about business”, Anthony Joshua

British-Nigerian Anthony Joshua moved a step closer to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion of the world on Saturday after beating New Zealander Joseph Parker on a unanimous points decision in their title unification bout.

The 2012 Olympic champion, taken to 12 rounds for the first time in his professional career after 20 previous knockouts, added Parker’s WBO belt to his own WBA Super, IBF and IBO titles.

The three judges scored it 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to Joshua, leaving only Deontay Wilder’s WBC title still to conquer.

“Wilder. Let’s go baby, let’s go,” shouted Joshua from inside the ring to raucous cheers from the 78,000 crowd packing Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, also namechecking Tyson Fury as another possible opponent.

“Do I want to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world? IBO, WBO, IBF, WBA…I’m not into the hype, I’m about business. So let’s get the business done.

“Let’s see what the future holds, I’m down for whatever, whenever,” added the Briton, making clear he wanted Wilder to face him in Britain rather than Las Vegas.

The American was not among those present, despite being invited by organisers, the undefeated champion opting to watch from afar instead.

Both fighters had stepped into the ring undefeated, with Joshua weighing in six pounds heavier than his shorter opponent and with a longer reach.

If some had expected an early knockout it did not pan out that way, even if Joshua could be said to have controlled most of the 12 rounds by using his jab and left hooks to telling effect.

Apart from an explosive sixth round, with both trading some stinging blows, neither looked likely to buckle with Parker showing more staying power than any of Joshua’s previous opponents.

The referee also intervened repeatedly, breaking up the fight whenever the fighting livened up and calling a time out in the ninth with Joshua returning to his corner to tighten up his gloves.

“My strategy in there was to stick behind the jab,” said Joshua.

“It’s one of the most important weapons. The old saying is the right hand can take you around the block, but a good jab will take you around the world. And that secured me another world title belt,” he added.

“I know the bookies say I might get a knockout…but forget the hype, Joseph Parker is a world champion. So I knew he was going to be determined. So this does become a boxing match, not a fight.

“Joseph Parker stated this would be war, I stated this would be boxing finesse. I stuck to my word and I controlled it behind the jab, the counter-punches.”

The 26-year-old New Zealander, who had been led into the ring by Samoan chiefs under a barrage of strobe lights before Joshua walked in to the sound of ‘Paid in Full’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, was gracious in defeat.

“Today I got beaten by a better champion, a bigger man,” he said.

“I’m going to come back stronger. No regrets, take it on the chin. Better man on the day.

“I would love to have another go.”

My fight With Parker Will Make History And Set Records – Joshua

Anthony Joshua believes Joseph Parker will face an “overwhelming” experience in a unification challenge which will go down in “history” on Saturday.

WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion Joshua meets WBO title-holder Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

It will be Briton Joshua’s fourth stadium bout but, with 80,000 fans expected, represents a new level of interest for New Zealand’s Parker.

“It took me a few times to get used to it,” Joshua told BBC Radio 5 live.

“It’s an experience he hasn’t faced yet. It is daunting, it is overwhelming.

“You have a fighter that will block out the noise, which takes a whole heap of energy. Then you have a fighter who rides the wave, which can leave you too excited.

“The fight is won or lost in training camp but the last bolt is screwed on during the spell from your changing room to the first bell.”

Lennox Lewis became undisputed champion by defeating Evander Holyfield on  November 13,  1999

Joshua told BBC Sport he had   been watching videos of Lennox Lewis, who held the IBF, WBA and WBC titles in 2000.

Since then, only Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko have held three heavyweight titles at one time.

And as well as three of the four heavyweight titles, Joshua and Parker will put undefeated records on the line in the Welsh capital.

“This is history,” Joshua told BBC Radio 5 live’s boxing podcast.

“This is a unification fight with two heavyweights undefeated and it’s in the UK.

“It’s going to be electric. You know when you come here to fight myself, you know there’s going to be blood, a fighter hurt and 20 times out of 20 I’ve been victorious, so expect the same routine.”

Joshua has made subtle tweaks to his training since defeating Carlos Takamin October.

He now focuses on boxing during morning sessions, with running or strength work later in the day. The reverse of his old routine aims to see him fresher when doing technical work under the guidance of trainer Rob McCracken at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Bruno Gives Joshua Tactical Advice For His Upcoming Duel

British boxing legend Frank Bruno says Anthony Joshua needs to be smart enough not to get involved in a war when he takes on Joseph Parker.

Bruno thinks Joshua can be fancied to pick up the win in Cardiff later this month so far he gets his gimmicks and tactical approach right.

WBA ‘super’ and IBF champion Joshua will square off with WBO king Parker on March 31 in an eagerly-awaited heavyweight showdown.

Bruno, a former heavyweight world champion, told Sky Sports,  “Anthony Joshua has got the size, the power, and the skill – and Parker is a guy who comes to him all the time.

“If Anthony Joshua moves around and uses his reach and his power, he should make it, not an easy fight, but make it easier for himself.

“If he is going to get macho and start wanting to tear up with him, then Parker is a very dangerous guy, very fit, and he is on you all the time

“Joshua has a lot of skill, a lot of size, a lot of power. If he just relaxes and uses Parker to come in, it is as simple as that.”

If Joshua can defeat Parker, it has been speculated that a huge showdown with WBC king Deontay Wilder could be in the offing but Bruno does not think his fellow Brit will be distracted by such a prospect.

“He is a good guy Anthony Joshua,” said Bruno. “A very, very focused guy. He is on his game – he goes to the gym and he trains very hard.

“His feet are on the ground and he deserves everything he gets.

“I think just take one step at a time because Parker is not a mug. He is a very tough guy and he comes to fight.”

Another name who could enter the heavyweight mix is Tyson Fury, who is unbeaten and a former world champion, but with much to prove, having not fought since defeating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.

Bruno said,  “Tyson Fury is a much better fighter than a lot of people give him credit for.

“Sometimes he talks a little bit hibbery-gibbery here and there. If he can put the hibbery-gibbery in a box and stick to his boxing, he is a very good boxer. Turns southpaw, turns orthodox – very good fighter.”

Dubois Will Be Greater Than Joshua – Bruno

Frank Bruno believes upcoming heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois will definitely be a greater star than Anthony Joshua.

Joshua has enjoyed a very fast upshot to becoming the most recognisable face in British boxing and a two-belt world champion. Dubois is still just seven fights into his pro career, but his coaches and promoter Frank Warren have great hopes for the 20-year-old.

And it seems Bruno, who has spent some time with Dubois in the gym, thinks the young boy is the next force to be reckoned with in the game. “I think Daniel will be bigger than AJ,” Bruno said“Daniel is keen, thirsty, eager to learn and a nice, level-headed guy.’

‘He is a very, very good prospect and only needs to stay on his game, focused and hungry.’ As well as aspirations to become a superstar, Dubois also has his eye on becoming the youngest ever heavyweight world champion. Mike Tyson holds that honour, having beaten Trevor Berbick in 1986 as a 20-year-old and Dubois is now two months older than Tyson was when he became WBC king.

But, Dubois can still become the youngest Brit to claim a heavyweight world strap and is in line to challenge for his first title. The British Boxing Board of Control are considering freezing their ban on fighters under the age of 21 competing for belts, so Dubois can challenge for a British title.

You Are Next, Wilder Tells Joshua

Deontay Wilder on Saturday defeated Luis Ortiz to retain his world heavyweight title then sais to fellow champion Anthony Joshua, “ I’m coming for you,”

Wilder got into trouble in the seventh round against the tricky Cuban in New York.

He got back to stop the veteran in the 10th session to keep his unbeaten record in check.

Wilder will be at ringside in Cardiff on March 31 when IBF and WBA champion  Joshua, 28,   bids to unify the titles against Joseph Parker.

And he said,  “I am the king of the jungle. Soon there will be one name and he will go by Deontay Wilder.

He survived a scare in the seventh round to claim the 40th win of his unbeaten career following a right uppercut at the Barclays Center.

“I figured out a way to come back. A true champion always finds a way. That’s what I did tonight,” said Wilder, who has successfully defended his title seven times.

“I’m looking forward to coming to Cardiff. The UK has some of the best fans in the world.

“I’m going to enjoy myself over there, I think it’s going to be a great fight while it lasts and I look forward to fighting the winner if they want it.”

“I want to unify. I am ready whenever those guys are,” BBC Sport quoted  Wilder as saying on Sunday.

Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said that if he beats Parker a unification fight with Wilder is likely to happen this year.

“It’s the biggest fight in world boxing,” Hearn told Sportsweek on BBC Radio 5 live.

“He has the biggest test of his career against Parker but if he wins it Anthony wants to fight Wilder.

“He thinks he can beat him and Wilder is beatable, but Wilder is also very dangerous.

“Both Wilder and Joshua are electric to watch, both punch very hard and both have shown signs of vulnerability.

“You have to give the fans what they want, otherwise over time they lose interest. I think it will happen 2018. I don’t think there is any holding AJ back.”

Wilder: Joshua Is Scared To Fight Me, Parker Too Good For Him.

World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion America’s Deontay Wilder says Anthony Joshua, the British world heavyweight champion with Nigerian descent lacks the  “confidence” to fight him.

Wilder will face Ortiz putting his WBC on line in New York on Saturday, before Joshua faces World Boxing Organisation (WBO) champion New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in a unification bout on 31 March.

Joshua holds the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Association (WBA0 titles.

“I don’t believe Hearn wants this fight at all,” Wilder told the BBC.

“Joshua is like a cow, Eddie Hearn is milking him for every dollar. There have been no negotiations at all, no deal has been offered. But the world wants to see me and Joshua get in the ring.

“I don’t think Joshua has enough confidence in himself to fight me. It’s all on them. If he really wants it, he can make it happen.

“I see the Parker v Joshua fight going into the later rounds. I like Parker’s movement.

“With Joshua’s big frame and being muscular, that’s OK to look the part but can he get out of the way of Parker’s punches and maintain his stamina holding all that?”

Responding to Wilders comments, Hearn tod the BBC: “We’re ready on this side of the pond.

“It’s the biggest fight in world boxing… and I always make the biggest fights possible.

“Deontay Wilder has tried to sell his whole fight on Anthony Joshua – he should worry about Luis Ortiz.

“Anthony will fight anyone and, as we have stated a thousand times, he wants to be the undisputed champion.

“If he beats Joseph Parker then he just needs one more belt. Wilder doesn’t have a promoter so is on a one-man salesman mission – get your head on Ortiz, let us deal with Parker then join us back in the real world and this fight will get made very quickly.”

I can Defeat Joshua In Cardiff – Parker

Joseph Parker has claimed he can outclass Anthony Joshua as he aims at the heavyweight title on March 31.

Parker, who holds the WBO belt, and Joshua, who holds the IBF and WBA ‘super’ belts, will put their titles on line as the two boxing icons challenge each other at the principality stadium in Cardiff next month.

Joshua is the obvious fan’s favorite but Parker believes he can turn the tables around.

He said, “I can outbox Anthony Joshua. I think I have the skills to outbox him but I haven’t really shown that. That’s why I’m excited – this is a big stage to put on the best performance of my life.

“I can knock him out. I can outbox him. Words can’t explain how excited we are.

“We’re fighting in his backyard and we’re fighting another champion who’s undefeated. That makes it a great fight.

“But also the opportunity to fight in front of 80,000 people. A lot of people say it’s going to be overwhelming and I’m going to be nervous and scared. But I see it differently. I see it as us making the most of the occasion.”

Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry is equally confident his man can beat Joshua when the two boxers put their unbeaten records on the line.

He said, “It won’t matter if there’s 800, 8,000 or 80,000 people at this fight. It will be the same Joseph Parker that walks to the ring. I’m not one bit worried about the occasion getting to him.

“He wins the fight with speed and movement. He wins the fight with a higher level of skill. Parker has far better skill than Anthony Joshua. He has a far better selection of punches. He is very durable.

“If the best Joseph Parker turns up, we will leave the ring with all the belts.”

I Want To Equal Joshua’s Record – Chris Eubank Jr

CHRIS Eubank Jr claims victory over George Groves will be the next record changing moment in matching Anthony Joshua’s pulling power.

The super-middleweight reckons victory against the WBA champion at Manchester Arena on Saturday night will ensure he is finaly out of his Father’s background.

But his aim is to stand side by side with who although isnt Britain’s finest fighter, is undoubtedly the No. 1 superstar of the sport in this country.

Eubank Jr, 28, knows being world heavyweight champion helps Joshua pack out football stadiums and line up a long list of sponsors because it is the glamour division.

But he is confident a big win over Groves will help his profile reach a new level and it certainly would get people’s attention with the defending champion the slight favourite to progress to the World Boxing Super Series final.

Eubank Jr said,  “Heavyweights do have that pull which is very hard to compete with. Anthony is doing an amazing job, he is putting on great fights and he is doing what he needs to do.

“Anthony is having these fights and he is not even saying anything before these fights. He is shaking the guy’s hand and wishing them the best of luck.

“It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it. The public love it; it’s great for British boxing

“Us, as British fighters, are looking at that and everyone is trying to emulate that. We all want to get to the position where you can fill up a stadium with 80,000 or 100,000 people.

“I believe winning this tournament puts me in that pool. Well, it’s not actually a pool as it is just one guy. It puts me in that category. The potential is there for sure.”

Joshua’s earning power is certainly something everyone in British boxing wants to emulate too with the WBA and IBF champion pocketing around £15m every time he steps through the ropes these days.

But, for Eubank, money is not the main motivation as he insists it is about legacy and leaving the shadow of his father, Chris Sr, who won world titles in two weight divisions.

Of course, if he beats Groves and books a place in the World Boxing Super Series final then he will be one win away from lifting the Muhammad Ali trophy and claiming the largest share of the £20m prize pot.

“I’m not putting my health at risk and risking my livelihood for nothing,” said Eubank Jr, who has lost just one of his 27 fights.

“There has to be some type of reward, some type of security.

“It is important that it is there. Is that my main motivation? Absolutely not.

“Legacy is my motivation, inspiring the next generation is my motivation.