Boxing: Lennox Lewis ready to return as Anthony Joshua's manager
Sunday 24 March 2013
Britain's hottest boxing prospect, the Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua, is set to turn professional in a deal which could see him link up with the former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.
Joshua's UK Sport-funded "amateur" contract with GB Boxing expires at the end of the month, and the biggest fight of the year is to get his signature on a professional contract.
The fighter himself is keeping things under wraps – all interviews carry the condition that questions about turning pro are off-limits – but he has recently been to Jamaica for talks with Lewis, who has intimated that he would be willing to help Joshua develop his career.
Lewis says of the 23-year-old Londoner: "Anthony has got a lot of raw talent, great power, punching ability and tremendous potential, all the qualities you need to be a future world heavyweight champion. Now all those things need to be harnessed to make him more of a complete fighter. He has shown that he has the willingness and the drive to be successful. In many ways he reminds me of myself.
"I've told him that the most important first step is to get people around him who are conducive to his personality and his ambitions," Lewis adds. "If you get that right, the money will follow. He would certainly earn more than Mike Tyson or myself."
There is speculation that Lewis, who won the same Olympic title for Canada in 1988, could manage him, with David Haye's mentor, Adam Booth, as his trainer under the promotional banner of Golden Boy in the United States, who have links with Frank Warren's BoxNation subscription TV channel.
After winning the Olympic title, Joshua has become boxing's most wanted man. Every leading British promoter, and a fistful from America, has wooed him.
Lewis, 47, regularly emailed Joshua with advice during the Olympic tournament and was among the first to congratulate him. Since his retirement as the last undisputed world heavyweight champion in 2004, Lewis has worked as a pundit for US television network HBO, but he now wants a more hands-on role.
Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy have a licence to promote in Britain after signing Joshua's 2012 ringmate Anthony Ogogo, the charismatic middleweight bronze medallist. They are also believed to be keen to acquire Britain's other Olympic winner, bantamweight Luke Campbell who, like Joshua, has not fought since the Games seven months ago.
In boxing terms Joshua is still a baby, but he is 6ft 6in and nearly 17 stone, and has vital commodities for greatness – good chin, decent punch, a touch of charm to match his Ali-like looks and a highly marketable personality.
Golden Boy, whose chief executive, Richard Schaefer, is a former Swiss banker, are prepared to make Joshua potentially one of the richest young men in world sport in their search for a new heavyweight superhero to end the robotic domination of the Klitschko clan. Both Warren and his rival British promoter Eddie Hearn have made substantial offers too.
However, since his Olympic triumph Joshua has made it clear that he is in no rush to become a prized fighter, acknowledging he still has much to learn. A comfortable alternative would be to take part in the next World Series Boxing tournament for the British Lionhearts.
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