Anthony Joshua, nouvelle star de la boxe mondiale et du sport britannique

Le combat qui vient d’avoir lieu entre Anthony Joshua et Wladimir Klitschko a été sans aucun doute le combat de boxe le plus excitant de la catégorie Poids Louds des dernières années. En mettant de côté toute notion de « spectacle, le Britannique Anthony Joshua est en train de devenir l’un des athlètes et boxeurs les plus « bankable » qu’on ait connu et a le potentiel de propulser son sport dans une nouvelle ère commerciale. 

Près de 90 000 personnes ont rempli un Wembley à ras-bord pour regarder ce combat de boxe et des millions de téléspectateurs ont suivi la rencontre depuis leurs domicile ou encore les pubs et clubs de boxe à travers le pays. L’intérêt est allé au delà des frontières britanniques : en effet, les chaînes TV américaines du câble, Showtime et HBO, avaient sécurisé les droits TV. En effet, ce n’était que la 3ème fois qu’une rencontre de boxe poids lourds avait pu générer un tel intérêt et donc de telles recettes. La dernière fois, c’était pour la victoire de Floyd Mayweather contre Manny Pacquiao en 2015 et il faut remonter au match entre Lennox Lewis et Mike Tyson en 2002 pour trouver le premier match lucratif. 

Et il était logique pour Showtime et HBO d’être impliqués puisque les deux boxeurs ont des liens avec ces 2 chaînes. En effet, Joshua a récemment signé un contrat très juteux avec Showtime alors que Klitschko est lui dans le giron de HBO. Mais la grande nouvelle et révolution ne réside pas dans les liens entre boxeurs et chaînes, mais tout simplement dans le fait que ce match n’était pas diffusé en pay-per-view aux Etats-Unis comme il en est l’habitude pour ce type de rencontre sportive. En effet, les deux chaînes ont dépêchés leurs équipes à Wembley pour diffuser la rencontre via deux signaux séparés. 

Les 11 rounds du combat entre Joshua et l’Ukrainien ont démontré le retour au premier plan de la catégorie Poids Lourds mais plus que ça, le retour en force de toute la boxe. Après le match Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao et la retraite de Mayweather – mettant un terme à l’une des plus grandes carrières du sport business, les « casual fans » de la boxe ont tourné leur attention ailleurs, notamment vers le MMA, grâce à des stars en pleine expansion et en plein devenir comme Conor McGregor (qui pourrait faire son arrivée dans un futur proche sur un ring de boxe contre Floyd Mayweather). Mais la boxe n’est pas restée sur place – en effet, la boxe détient aujourd’hui de grands talents comme Vasyl Lomachenko, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin et Andre Ward, qui devraient emmener ce sport qu’est la boxe vers une nouvelle ère dominée par de nouvelles étoiles. 

En mettant de côté le talent, aucun des boxeurs mentionnés ci-dessus ne semble avoir le potentiel d’attirer le fan occasionnel de boxe et les sponsors comme sait le faire Anthony Joshua. Le média britannique Sports Pro Media a classé Joshua à la 5ème place de son classement « Most Marketable Athletes in the World » l’année dernière (aucun autre boxeur ne s’est classé plus haut). La catégorie des Poids Lourds a longtemps été dominée par les Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, George Forema, Mike Tyson et Lennox Lewis et plus récemment, depuis la retraite de Lennox Lewis, par le moins charismatique Klitscko et son frère Vitali. La victoire de Tyson Fury contre Klitschko a généré momentanément un sursaut d’attention mais le tempérament de Fury a au final plus servi à ternir l’image de la boxe, considérée comme un sport truffé de personnages sans saveurs, adorateurs des pugilats. 

Néanmoins, l’arrivée et émergence de Joshua a permis de faire redémarrer ce sport, puisque ce dernier se place comme l’antithèse absolu de Lennox Lewis. Poli, humble et sachant s’exprimer, l’athlète Olympique a su faire preuve d’authenticité et d’un naturel qui a su nettoyer la boxe de toute la pollution qui l’entourait depuis quelques années. 

On aencore pu voir toute l’étendue de sa personnalité dans ses commentaires après match (et après sa victoire) contre Klitschko : « Dans la boxe, si tu ne t’engages pas, tu échoues. La boxe est une question de personnalité. Il n’y a nulle part où se cacher. La boxe n’est pas un sport compliqué. Tout le monde peut en faire. Il faut juste essayer. Mais par contre tu dois laisser ton ego à la porte. J’ai énormément de respect pour Klitschko. Il est un modèle sur et en dehors du ring et je n’ai rien que de l’amour et du respect pour quelqu’un qui monte sur le ring. London, merci, je vous aime. Est-ce que je peux aller à la maison maintenant ? » 

Sa personnalité a attiré bon nombre d’annonceurs comme l’équipementier Under Armour, Lucozade Sport, Jaguar, Sky Sports, Beats, Lynx et d’autres encore.

https://twitter.com/lynx/status/858342026714206209

Toutes ces marques ont d’ailleurs pu voir l’expertise et la maîtrise des réseaux sociaux d’Anthony Joshua et le nombre de followers cumulés comparés à d’autres grands noms du sport britannique, et notamment dans la Premier League. En effet, Anthony Joshua et ses 4.7 millions de followers cumulés sur facebook, twitter & instagram surpasse déjà des stars du ballon rond comme Harry Kane  et ses 3.6 millions de followers sur les réseaux et la jeune pépite de Manchester United, Marcus Rashford, qui détient 3.2 millions de fans & followers. Alors qu’il dispose de beaucoup moins de visibilité TV que les stars du football, Joshua a réussi à les mettre K.O. Joel Seymour-Hyde, senior Vice-President de l’agence Octagon, attribue ce succès sur les réseaux sociaux à une « compréhension et une affinité naturelle des plateformes sociales et de ces nouveaux codes de communication avec les fans. »

« L’une de ses grandes forces est la façon dont il se présente réellement comme un homme très naturel et humble et cela se reflète dans la façon dont il utilise les médias sociaux. Il semble vraiment aimer l’interaction des fans et aime prendre du temps pour les gens. » 

 

 

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