Why sport pubs need to show Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker

By Claire Churchard and Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Big bout: Anthony Joshua (left) faces New Zealand's Joseph Parker
Big bout: Anthony Joshua (left) faces New Zealand's Joseph Parker
Anthony Joshua takes on Joseph Parker at Cardiff's sold-out Principality Stadium on 31 March in a fight that will create British boxing history.

Anthony Joshua has thrust boxing into Britain's cultural mainstream – even people who don't know much about boxing know 'AJ'. 

Licensees now average an extra £900​ of revenue when showing pay-per-view boxing.

This has made each of Joshua's visits to the squared-circle big business for Britain's pubs. According to pub-finding app MatchPint, boxing is the fastest growing live sport for Britain's boozers.

Take Joshua's 11th round knockout victory over legendary heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko – when 1,052,000 (Ipsos MORI) flocked to Britain's pubs to watch the action unfold – as an example. It was the second most popular fight MatchPint had ever seen, topped only by Floyd Mayweather's fight with Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Conor McGregor. 

Joshua v Klitschko saw a 100% increase in sales from 7pm until midnight on fight night, with many publicans highlighting it as their best trading day of the year with on average 106 pints sold between 9pm and 10pm on the night.

The fight received 753% more unique searches than last season's Manchester football derby – with 80,000 uniques coming on the day – and 280 additional pints sold per venue that showed the fight, according to MatchPint.

Anthony Joshua’s promoter – Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Sport – puts the growing popularity of people watching boxing in pubs down to the “Joshua effect”.

He said that people come to watch star names, which Joshua brings in large quantities.

"It’s almost like a national holiday. I’m amazed how many pubs are showing live fighting. We’re seeing the sport going to new levels of popularity and any establishment knows they have to have it.

“If I was a pub owner, I’d buy a Joshua fight regardless of who he was boxing.

"It’s the first time in British history that two reigning heavyweight world champions have boxed in this country. It’s a must have. The business that was done in the pubs for Klitschko [says it all].

"I saw a close family friend from Stonegate (chairman Ian Payne) and he said ‘I owe you a beer’. I said ‘why's that?’ and he said ‘Oh my god, the business we did was bigger than every sporting event we’ve brought in’. And now he’s excited that we’re coming to Cardiff. Other friends with smaller pubs, say it’s mad! With AJ and Klitschko, you could not lose.”

Not a one-sided fight

This will be the third time running that Joshua has boxed in an outdoor stadium fight and, over the past few years, 'AJ' has banked scarcely believable sums of money from a sport that very few ever really make pay.

Ahead of the fight, former boxing champion and Sky Sports pundit Johnny Nelson told The Morning Advertiser​ that Joseph Parker is “not getting the respect he deserves”.

"The general public don’t know who he is. Parker is a version of Joshua, this is not going to be a one-sided fight.

"Parker is younger, he’s unbeaten. He went through the same amateur pedigree as Joshua, these guys know each other. They’ve both been successful as amateurs and professionals.

"The problem is Parker hasn’t had the same amount of high-profile fights as Joshua. But he’s a world champion and he’s unbeaten. I think his will be Joshua’s hardest fight because he’s got a young, successful, lithe opponent.”

Nelson said, for him, Joshua’s defining fight was against Wladimir Klitschko. “Parker hasn’t had any defining fights, this is his defining fight. And there a lot of things that come into play for Parker to deal with.

"One, he’s fighting Joshua who is 6ft 5in, he’s a power house and he’s very successful, and he’s uber famous.

"Two, he’s going to walk into a room with 80,000 people baying for his blood and shouting for Anthony Joshua. He’s never had to deal with that before. It’s the mental aspect.”

Asked if Joshua’s much-discussed ‘glass chin’ would make a difference to the fight, Nelson said: “Every village has an idiot, I’m not saying that Parker is an idiot, I’m saying his manager Higgins is the idiot because the things he was saying [about Joshua] you [would have] thought 'why would you say something like that?'.

"He was writing cheques his body couldn’t cash and hoping Parker would cash them, talking big talk, saying ‘Joshua’s got a glass chin, he’s got no heart’. But I’d say, ‘have you not watched his last two fights?’. Parker knows it is not true and is probably thinking ‘you need to shut up!’.

"Although it is all done to antagonise Joshua. If you get your opponent mad, they can’t think straight and they deviate from their game plan and that is what it is about. Anthony Joshua knows he can’t afford to let Parker control the pace of the fight.

“In my opinion, Joseph Parker is fitter, he has a higher tempo, he wants to get up close and personal. Joshua is very good at working inside but he needs to bully and hurt him from the off. Parker can do this for 12 rounds, we’ve seen him do it. He’s a younger undefeated heavyweight champion.”

Eddie Hearn’s tips for the undercard

"A really good fight is David Price against Alexander Povetkin," says Hearn. “Povetkin is number one in the world heavyweight division in WBA. If Price beats Povetkin, he shakes up the whole division. Price is a massive underdog in the fight but he punches very very hard.

"Josh Kelly is in his first real challenge against former world champion Carlos Molina in the vacant WBA welterweight international title.

"Ryan Burnett from Belfast who is incredibly popular and defending his world title versus Yonfrez Parejo in the WBA bantamweight world title match.

"Anthony Crolla, who's a hero in Manchester, is on the card against Edson Ramirez."

This guide​ will help make the night a knockout with licensees averaging an extra £900 of revenue when showing PPV boxing

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