Beloved members of Press Clips Pentecostal Church (PCPC), I haven’t preached a sermon in a very long time. I am happy to be back on the pulpit. To God be the glory.
As you all know, tonight is the night when two warriors would return to the boxing ring to continue their war of attrition. For our man Anthony Olufemi Joshua, it is a battle to erase an earlier defeat and to take back his lost world heavyweight championship belts all taken away from him in a shocking upset in which he was knocked down four times until the referee intervened to end the fight in favour of Andy Ruiz, the first Mexican world heavyweight champion—the unusual champion!
With a face and a figure shaped like a Japanese sumo wrestler, Ruiz had first been floored and it looked like an easy night for Joshua making his American debut, but the Mexican quickly rose from the canvas to upset the apple cart by delivering an unseen, devastating punch that sent Joshua reeling into a nightmare. The Mexican added a hat-trick of knock downs which ended in triumph for him and disaster for Joshua suffering his first professional defeat in faraway America. Joshua found himself thereafter in what my friend Bishop Humphrey Erumaka describes as “a confused junction.”
In his book, “God At My Confused Junction,” Bishop Erumaka writes: “Confused junction is a terrible place where men like Jesus are told, ‘physician, heal yourself,’ ‘Samson, the Philistines are here,’ ‘Peter, are you not one of them?’ It is a place saddened with laughable mockery.”
Suddenly, the enviable boxer on Olympian heights of glory found himself down in the valley of ridicule with mockers saying he was simply an overrated boxer, that he lacked boxing IQ, that he was simply a body builder, that he had a glass chin. In the cruel world we live in, success has many fathers and failure an orphan. In his “confused junction,” the mockers asked Anthony Joshua, Where is your God?” This is how the Psalmist puts it Psalm 42 verse 3: “My tears have been food day and night, while men ask me all day long ‘Where is your God?’”
Tonight in the Arabian Desert, in the neutral “no man’s land”, our man Joshua would be attempting to give the Mexican a taste of his own medicine—the poisoned chalice of defeat. Let us pray for our son, our brother, our hero Anthony Joshua—the fighter who proudly carries the Nigerian flag into the ring and has Nigeria and Africa tattooed on his right shoulder and arm, even though he is also claimed by Britain. Let us pray. We are a country built on prayers. And we serve a “Mighty Warrior” who has never lost a battle in heaven and on earth. A Mighty Warrior who ironically is the Prince of Peace who says: “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” The God who delivered David from Goliath will deliver Joshua from this dangerous Mexican pugilist. The God who made Samson the first world heavyweight champion who conquered the Philistines will show up in Joshua’s corner tonight. The God who delivered Daniel from lions will deliver Joshua from the fast hands of Andy Ruiz. He will open Joshua’s eyes to see the unseen arrows and punches that knocked him down the last time. He will remake Joshua into a Mohammed Ali to fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee tonight. He will fill Joshua with the spirit of our heroes past—the spirit of Hogan “Kid” Bassey, the spirit of Dick Tiger (Richard Ihetu), the spirit to do great exploits for Nigeria in the ring.
Tonight, the Lord will prove the so-called boxing experts wrong. The “experts” are saying that mentally, Andy Ruiz will have an edge over Joshua having beating him once. History, they say, will repeat itself tonight! But our God will prove them wrong. For Joshua, we pray for a new spirit, a new engine, a new mentality, a new strength, a new anointing and a renewed confidence. They say Ruiz has Joshua’s number, having put him down four times. We cancel that old number and give Joshua a new telephone number. A number of victory. We pray that Joshua will make the necessary adjustments and right the wrongs of the last fight. We pray that all his tactics, strategies and even the humid desert weather would work in his favour. We pray that Joshua will use his height and his long reach to a maximum advantage to jab, jab and jab his way to victory. That’s the key tonight. We pray that the spirit of fear and doubt would not envelop our once bitten and smitten Joshua. Instead, we pray he would develop a lion’s heart and attack like the hungry king of the jungle.
In boxing, one big punch changes everything. We pray for our man to find that one punch that will silence the doubters and naysayers. We pray for strength and stamina. May the spirit of darkness and tiredness not overcome our man to surrender a second time. This indeed is a make-or-mar fight for Joshua. The Lord will fight for you. Like the phoenix, that mythical Arabian bird, you will rise again from the ashes of defeat. As the Bible says in Micah 7 verse 8: “when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”
Still quoting from Bishop Erumaka’s book, “the same spot you were humiliated, you failed and fell, that is the same spot you will be glorified. The same spot you lost it, that is the same spot you will get it back, hundred folds…Your path shall shine brighter and brighter…Against all odds, you axe shall float again.” That’s my prayer for you Brother Anthony Joshua.
In boxing and in life, failure comes with the territory. All the great boxers from Mohammed Ali to Lennox Lewis to Wladimir Klitschko, have all tasted failure, not just once or twice, but they overcame the shame of failure to the greater glory of victory. So will your story be O Anthony, the son of Joshua, the beloved of God (Olufemi). Just imagine how big Anthony Joshua will be when he regains his title tonight. His brand equity, his worth, his latter glory would outshine his former glory. (Hag 2:9)
Beloved, we can’t wait for Anthony Joshua, the Nigerian global brand and Glo ambassador reappearing on our TV screens, on CNN and on big billboards, triumphantly saying: “YOU CAN’T PUT DOWN A NIGERIAN. I’M BACK!”
We can’t also wait to see A.J. unify the heavyweight division and forever silence the one punch wild man: Deontay Wilder. A victory tonight will make Anthony Joshua even bigger and better. That’s our prayer. That’s what we are asking you for. So hear us O God of Anthony Joshua, O God of Nigeria, O God of the human race. Victory belongs to Anthony Olufemi Joshua tonight in Jesus name!
And the Lord of Host answered Anthony Joshua in Joshua 1: 5-9 saying: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life…Be strong and of good courage…And be not afraid…Neither be dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Let somebody shout Hallelujah!