It was just over 42 years ago when promoter extraordinaire Don King’s vision of having the great Muhammad Ali try and regain his crown from an unbeaten George Foreman in the African jungle became reality. And it was 15 years ago this year when Hasim Rahman shocked Lennox Lewis in South Africa. Now, promoter Eddie Hearn says it is possible that IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua could follow in the footsteps of Foreman and Lewis and defend his title in Africa.
Hearn, in speaking with The Star, says there is interest from Nigeria – where A.J’s parents are from – to host a huge event topped by Joshua.
“Nigeria is desperate to have an event out there with him and they have money,” Hearn said. “He has his background out there, his parents are Nigerian. They love him out there. They sent a film crew from Lagos to the [Eric] Molina press conference. They want Joshua badly, they all do but what you are giving up is pay-per-view and gate receipts in the UK. They have to come up with $10 million if they want a Joshua fight. That is the price. Some people have it, some don’t.”
Interestingly, it was the sum of $10 million that enabled Foreman and Ali to get it on in Zaire in 1974, with King getting President Mobutu to part with an amount of money that was almost unthinkable for a boxing match back then. Hearn now has creative and lofty ideas for Joshua. But first comes this Saturday’s defence against a determined and hungry Molina (anyone else smell upset?!) and then, all being well in Manchester, a massive fight with former king Wladimir Klitschko, probably at Wembley next April.
If he can come through all that, maybe Joshua will set out to become a true world champion, with fights dotted across the globe, just as Ali and Foreman did.
It really is safe to say that Eric Molina will be tearing up some exciting plans if he scores the upset in six day’s time!