Britain’s WBA and IBF title holder, who thrilled 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium and millions around the world when he stopped the great Wladimir Klitschko in 11 rounds in April, heads the eighth annual SportsPro 50 Most Marketable Athletes list (#SP50MM), which focuses on marketing potential over the next three years.
Stephen Curry, who led the Golden State Warriors back to the National Basketball Association (NBA) title in another dominant year, drops to second in the rankings, with Manchester United and France soccer star Paul Pogba third in a hugely significant year for club and country. UFC champion Conor McGregor crashes in at four ahead of his much talked-about encounter with Floyd Mayweather Jr, while India cricket captain Virat Kohli completes the top five.
There are 20 American athletes on the list, with five each from the UK and Canada. 19 nationalities are represented across 22 sports.
On the top ten list are: Anthony Joshua – Boxing, UK; Stephen Curry – Basketball, USA; Paul Pogba – Soccer, France; Conor McGregor – MMA, Republic of Ireland; Virat Kohli – Cricket, India; Jordan Spieth – Golf, USA; Neymar – Soccer, Brazil; Simone Biles – Gymnastics, USA; Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing, USA and Odell Beckham Jr – Football, USA.
Athletes across the world were ranked against criteria including age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal, following several weeks of analysis by the SportsPro team and external industry experts.
27-year-old Joshua is the seventh athlete to top the list. He follows Curry, tennis player Eugenie Bouchard, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, Barcelona’s Brazilian soccer star Neymar, who ranked first in 2012 and 2013, retiring sprint legend Usain Bolt, and NBA icon LeBron James, who led the way when the feature launched in 2010.
Joshua is the only boxer in the list, which welcomes several entries from soccer as the 2018 Fifa World Cup looms. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane are among those making their debut appearances, with Kane’s teammate Dele Alli the biggest riser at 13.
Joshua has received two bids from Nigeria to stage his world heavyweight title rematch against Wladimir Klitschko.
His promoter, Eddie Hearn, has been sifting through mega-money offers to stage the fight in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja according to emerging reports.