Following the news breaking that there has been an approach regarding Anthony Joshua fighting in the Congo, Danny Flexen recalls a conversation with the head of AJ Boxing last year
News broke over the festive season regarding the possibility of Anthony Joshua fighting in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Freddie Cunningham, the Managing Director of AJ Boxing, confirmed to Sky Sports that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had been approached about the unified heavyweight champion defending his belts in the African nation that famously hosted 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle.
This revelation reminded me of a conversation I’d had with Cunningham for Seconds Out almost 18 months previously. I had asked him then, with AJ predominant in Britain, which worlds they desired to conquer.
“The UK market we’re comfortable in,” Cunningham told me in July 2018. “I think we’re looking at places like America, Africa, Middle East, China – in that sort of order – is where we’ll look to grow it. You have a fight in Africa, I think Middle East is an option as well, even Asia, it’s a growing market.”
Such was Cunningham’s conviction regarding Africa, specifically, that I made it the focal point of the video’s title. It is interesting also to analyse the prospective order Freddie mooted. The first on the priority list was America, nearly a year before Joshua made his US debut against Andy Ruiz in what became an upset defeat which likely delayed plans for world domination. Africa superseded the Middle East for Cunningham then but when a too-good-to-refuse offer from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came in for the Ruiz rematch, it was accepted for December, and Joshua summarily outboxed his conqueror.
That leaves Africa and China and, given Joshua’s visits to Nigeria, the country of his parents, have often been cited as inspiration for the champion, the continent that includes it would seem to the the number one target albeit not for his next contest.
“He wants to do it so it’s literally when we do it,” Cunningham emphasised last year. “If it’s not the right move now, we’re not just gonna do it, but he knows it will become the right move at some point. You see the footage of him coming back from Nigeria and the fans and you just know it’s something he’ll do.”
You can view the full interview with Cunningham below.