Many in the sport believe that Anthony Joshua’s days of fire-fights and quick knockouts are over.
Pundits point to the Olympic Gold Medalist’s stoppage loss to Andy Ruiz Jr in New York back in 2019 as the moment ‘AJ’ switched his style up and began to box tentatively.
Following two losses to Oleksandr Usyk and a second switch of trainer, Joshua has again been labelled a tentative fighter after his performances this year against Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius.
Whilst the man himself says he’s just becoming a smarter operator, others believe he’s gun-shy because of a fear of what’s coming back at him.
Billy Joe Saunders is in that camp. Speaking on Up Front with Simon Jordan, the two-weight world champion said Joshua ‘lets himself down.’
“I really really rate Anthony Joshua. He watched me win the Southern Area title, I was talking to him after I boxed. But he lets himself down.”
Asked if he thinks Joshua is ‘done’ and if he isn’t willing to put himself in jeopardy inside the ropes any longer, Saunders agreed.
“I would love him to prove me wrong, but I think the same. I would love for Joshua to prove me wrong, and I’m not saying he can’t come back from that. The thing is, I think a fighter knows when that’s happened. I think you would know.”
The true test of Joshua’s mentality could come against Deontay Wilder – the American heavyweight with 42 knockouts from 43 wins.
Whilst the fight is struggling to get over the line, the Brit’s team is clear in that it’s still the opponent he wants next. If that’s not the case, there’s a chance he is back out in December.