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London 2012 Olympics: Anthony Joshua two fights from big money

Worth his weight in gold: Big Josh just two fights away from landing big dosh

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 9 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Big Josh is just two fights away from being given the key to a vault containing more dosh than any other giants of London 2012 will make from scaling Mount Olympia, the lightning Bolt and the darling Jess included.

If 6ft 6in Anthony Joshua batters an equally large Kazakhstani to defeat in his semi-final, then does the same to whichever super-heavyweight climbs into the opposite corner for the last competitive event of these Games on Sunday afternoon, then he will ride into boxing’s professional ranks aboard a bullion express.

How much of that cache — a very different kind of gold from the medals on offer here — he unloads at the end of that white-knuckle ride will depend on how quickly and completely he adapts to the more brutal rigours of the paid ring.

Ring it to win it: Joshua is just two victories away from a guaranteed future in the professional game

Ring it to win it: Joshua is just two victories away from a guaranteed future in the professional game

More from Jeff Powell …

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09/08/12

Nicola the history maker! Yorkshire lass Adams is first female boxer to win gold
09/08/12

Heartbreak for Stalker as he loses medal chance in close bout with Uranchimeg
08/08/12

Lady of the ring! Adams aiming to win first boxing gold for women
08/08/12

Night high on anxiety for Evans as Brit waits on result of Canadian appeal
07/08/12

Speedy Joshua hooks a medal as he sends Zhang crashing to the floor
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Ogogo gets going and seals medal after beating Hartel in middleweight bout
06/08/12

Jonas catches the eye on a mixed day for Britain's gladiator girls
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Lennox Lewis, whose accountant became well-versed in such affairs after his client became Britain’s first world heavyweight champion for 100 years, values it in the hundreds of millions.

That estimate is based on the virtual void into which this sensible young man from London via Watford will find himself entering.

‘The heavyweight division is desperate for a shining new star,’ says Lewis. Of that, there is no doubt.
The brothers Klitschko have reigned impervious to almost every challenge to their duopoly of the world title alpha-belts since Lewis retired but Vitali, 41, is on the verge of hanging up his gloves and Wladimir, 36, will not go on offering pay-days to pretenders indefinitely.

Joshua, at just 22, is probably arriving too late to feast at the Klitschko table but if he leaves here as an Olympic champion he will find himself being fast-tracked into a place among those jostling for the succession.

They include two of his fellow Englishmen, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Price and Tyson Fury, the accelerating traveller.

David Haye still figures in some of the world ranking lists, at anywhere between fourth and seventh behind the Klitschkos. The Hayemaker’s comeback KO victim, Dereck Chisora, remains a fringe candidate despite losing four of his last five fights, which tells Joshua how wide open is the field of opportunity.

Apart from Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, who has yet to overcome his aversion to fighting a Klitschko, and Odlanier Solis, the Cuban who was troubling Vitali K for a round until he wrenched his knee, the rest is comprised mostly of such tired old names as Hasim Rahman, Eddie Chambers and Samuel Peter. If that cast list is not an added incentive for Joshua as he makes his return visits to the ExCeL Arena, he will never have a more enticing one.

The risk, of course, is that he will not be so much fast-tracked to the big time as rushed ahead of his years and experience. This evening’s rendezvous with Ivan Dychko, whom he is reported to have handled well in sparring, is only his 42nd amateur contest. That is not so much a career as a beginning.

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout - seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout – seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout - seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

As he makes vital decisions about his future, probably starting as early as next week, he needs to be aware that even if he becomes instant box-office he will need a defining rival — the Mayweather to his Pacquiao — if he is to capitalise to the full extent of Lewis’s calculations.

Ideally, that opposite number should be American and bring with him the riches of his country’s pay-per-view TV networks. Intriguingly, just such a figure appears to be rising from the ashes of United States heavyweight boxing.

Tipped for stardom

'I think Anthony Joshua is destined to get a gold medal. He's still a boy at 22 but he's very talented and in form.

I know how hard it is to win gold. It's an achievement just to get to the Olympics, amazing to get a medal and out of this world to win gold. He can do it.'

AUDLEY HARRISON

The Americans have always regarded the prize ring’s ultimate crown as theirs by right but their last unified heavyweight king was Evander Holyfield more than a decade ago.

Now, at last, they are daring to hope they have found the heir to the majestic succession of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Mr Holyfield to name but plenty.

The new name is Deontay Wilder. The professional record is a straight 24 wins, every one by knockout. The plan, by Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Promotions, has been to bring him into contention under the radar.

Wilder was the only US boxer to win a medal at the 2008 Games, equalling bronze with Price in Beijing. It has required a total of only 40 rounds for him to compile that unbeaten record and he has yet to be taken beyond the fourth in any of those bouts.

The concussive power is in a
sledgehammer right hand but it is thrown in with the athletic agility of
a 6ft 7in former college American football player.

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

A native of the quaintly named town of Tuscaloosa, he goes by the nickname the Bronze Bomber in tribute to Louis, the Brown Bomber. The public wraps came off last Saturday when Fox Sports televised live his spectacular first-round knockout of Kertson Manswell in Mobile, Alabama.

At 26, Wilder is ahead of Joshua on the road to riches, as is Denis Boytsov, the 6ft 1in all-action Russian with a dynamite right hand who is being talked of as a new Tyson.

But the prospect of Joshua and Wilder forging a transatlantic rivalry in the not-too-distant future will most excite boxing impresarios who want to break the hold of the Eastern Europeans.

Not that Joshua is the only member of Britain’s boxing team with much to fight for this weekend.
Anthony Ogogo, Luke Campbell and Fred Evans are all Olympic championship contenders going into today’s semi-finals. They have distinguished themselves already by adding guaranteed bronzes to Britain’s phenomenal medals haul.

But it is the towering youngster who is working the graveyard shift at the climax of these tumultuous late nights in London’s Docklands who can see boxing’s holy grail shimmering beyond the gold.

Big fight prize: Heavyweight contenders

Coventry City in crisis

Council are the only ones who can revive Coventry

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UPDATED:

13:02 GMT, 11 May 2012

The announcement of talks on Friday morning between the various partners involved in the running of Coventry City Football Club is surely to be welcomed.

The club's owners, SISU, the city council, the Higgs Trust… it is an overdue and painful first step on the road to recovery.

But this is not a situation that requires a sticking plaster. Only major surgery can effect long-term benefit to this basket-case of a football club.

On the slide: Coventry have slipped down into the third tier

On the slide: Coventry have slipped down into the third tier

Football League blog

That is why I have come to the conclusion that radical action is needed.

My solution would be for Coventry City Council to grab the bull by the horns and buy the lot.

Yes, that's right. Go to the markets, find the cash and pay up the blooming lot of 'em.

Quite clearly, the situation as it exists at the moment is an untenable one.

There are too many vested interests. Too many stakeholders wanting their pound of flesh.

The trouble is, there is not enough meat to satisfy everyone.

SISU want their money back – or a large percentage of it – before they will move aside.

The Higgs Trust want value for their slice of the action… blah, blah.

And if Gary Hoffman was the saviour, he's taking his time to ride to the rescue.

No, I'm afraid we will just have to
assume there are no white knights. No mystical Lady Godiva, armed to the
teeth with gold bullion, who will come galloping over the hill.

If they were there, they would have shown themselves by now.

Coventry
City are in the third tier of English football for the first time since
1964 and those who contributed to this mess should hang their heads in
shame.

In a mess: Boardroom squabbles are hindering Coventry's progress

In a mess: Boardroom squabbles are hindering Coventry's progress

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

It is the ninth biggest city in England for crying out loud.

Now before you start thinking that this is just a rant, I'll provide some evidence that points to the fact that local authority ownership is not such a bad idea after all.

For a start, let's look at the government's latest paper, published in October last year into football governance.

I quote: 'Too many of the problems faced by clubs… have been caused when the ground becomes separated from the club.'

Is that the case at Coventry Yes.

It remains a root cause of all the issues.

The fact that the club sold the revenue streams from the concessions continues to defy belief.

I can understand why it was done. But it's financial madness. Merely storing up problems for someone else to sort out somewhere down the line. And now we have almost reached the end of that line.

Even the rental figure of 1.2m per year sticks in the throat when you are in the Third Division. And if the football club can't pay it, the council is among those who lose out.

The owners can't see a way out, either. Otherwise they would have walked towards the light.

A SISU spokesman commented to the Coventry Telegraph last week: 'This is not a sustainable situation for either SISU or the club.'

Blimey, it took a 40m loss in four years for them to admit that. I hope they are nowhere near my pension fund.

Coventry's council taxpayers might baulk at my suggestion. I can understand why with such pressure on public services.

But
I'm asking them to find the money. Not to foot the bill. Under council
direction, the Sky Blues can ensure the local authority's large loan is
paid-for.

Employ a chief
executive to run the club upon financial ratios that have been agreed
upon this season by Championship clubs as a way of maintaining a healthy
business model.

It
could be run, effectively, under licence. The Ricoh Arena could be
developed along commercial lines with profits under-pinning continued
investment in the playing side of the club.

Coventry City's Conor Thomas

A chief executive would ensure that the club stays within its financial parameters. A sporting director could oversee the appointment of the playing and coaching staff.

And someone (Daniel Gidney) would be charged with the continued development of the first-class reputation and facilities at the Arena site. They might even put in a train station.

Why should the council take this action

I'll tell you why.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City
Council, said when the Canaries were promoted 12 months ago: 'The
benefits of Premier League football to the City as a brand are endless.'

Keith Brown, the
chief executive of the East of England tourist board, added: 'This is
extremely important because the city will be exposed to a wider audience
of people. It will make a difference to the city's hoteliers,
attractions, bars etc.

'There will be more international visitors because of the Premier League's huge following around the world.'

Blackpool estimated that their local economy was boosted to the tune of 30m during its season in the top-flight.

Even those – such as a study by Cardiff's Business School – who claim that it has little effect are missing the point.

They have dismissed any boost to the economy because people attend football for 'a day trip.'

Glory days: Jimmy Hill (second left)

Glory days: Jimmy Hill (second left)

That may be so. But while they are in Coventry they will need feeding. They will need to drink.

You will be capturing pounds that could be going somewhere else. It will be reflected in improved profits and increased revenue generated for local authority coffers through business rates.

Portsmouth's Council have been looking into buying Fratton Park. One of their council members says that a thriving football club was vital because 'of the confidence, economic stimulus and increased public profile.'

And there is a precedent. Swansea City Council found 32m to build the Liberty Stadium.

There was a time when Coventry was seen as the go-to place. When Jimmy Hill was full of energy, all-seater stadia, changing the colour of the strip, the Sky Blue song.

The council clearly haven't trusted anyone involved in the club for some time or else they would have entered negotiations with them long ago.

I'm sorry to lumber them with this thought, but after agonising for a number of months, it's the only way out.

Difficult situations call for drastic and remedial action.

And the time to answer that call is now.