Anthony Joshua has struggled to get back to his explosive best since losing to Oleksandr Usyk and one fellow heavyweight claims that is because he is ‘mentally broken.’
Joshua fought a tough 24 rounds back to back with the Ukraine southpaw across 2021 and 2022. The end of the second fight saw Joshua have something of an emotional outburst in which he was seemingly distraught that his very best efforts had not been enough to dethrone the famously technical and slippery Usyk.
Since then he laboured to a cautious points win over Jermaine Franklyn in April, then took his time to work into range and knockout late stand-in Robert Helenius back in August.
Part of the reason could be that he is still bedding in with new coach Derrick James in Texas – his third in as many years following splits from his long-time trainer Rob McCracken, then Robert Garcia who oversaw the Usyk rematch defeat.
Speaking to Seconds Out on the subject, recently reinstated WBA regular heavyweight champion Mahmoud Charr compared Joshua’s situation to that of Wladimir Klitschko who took years to rebuild after his first knockout loss.
“When [Klitschko] lost to Corey Sanders, he changed his style, he was not mentally strong, he was broken, and he waited many years to fight people from the Top 20, Top 10, to get back to where he was at the beginning. He was fighting only bums for three or four years.”
Charr then said he thinks it is Joshua’s mental game that is lacking and if he were to face Wilder next then it would be the end for ‘AJ’.
“Right now Joshua is mentally broken, you can see that.
Against Andy Ruiz Jr when he got first KO’d, two losses against Usyk, he looks broken. He needs time. He is not ready for Fury. He needs five or six easy fights to get back to himself.
If he fights Wilder next he can stop boxing after that. He is not ready for Wilder or Fury and not ready for me.”
Joshua will no doubt disagree with Charr’s assessments as he works his way towards a much anticipated but many believe highly dangerous fight with American knockout specialist Deontay Wilder at the start of 2024 in Saudi Arabia.