Former cruiserweight world champion and current boxing analyst Johnny Nelson hit back at comments made by Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn in the build-up to the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch.
Hearn in turn was responding to comments made by Nelson suggesting Joshua should retire if he loses again on Saturday.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the pundit said:
“If Usyk beats him, I reckon he’ll walk away. With this fight here, it’s so important for [Joshua’s] career, because he knows this might be the last big fight he’s in. It’s not in his DNA to stand back and be a gatekeeper for anybody.”
Hearn, who promotes Joshua, claimed that Nelson is a company man and would not be saying this had the British heavyweight still been signed to a broadcast deal with Sky Sports.
Nelson was quick to dismiss such claims and said that he was only speaking from the perspective of a boxer whereas Hearn has viewing it from a commercial perspective.
The former WBO cruiserweight champion had this to say to the Daily Mail:
“Eddie’s using his commercial heart. Of course, it would suit him for Joshua to carry on boxing whether he wins or loses, I get that. But I’m an ex-fighter; I know what their mentality is. You’ve been world champion and now you know there’s people out there who have beaten you, someone who’s proven that twice.”
“That’s just my opinion, and I might be wrong. I’m not saying he should retire; I’m just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.”
He then defended himself from the claim that he is a company man, and that fight-week tension must be getting to Hearn.
“Eddie’s taken it out of context, but I understand it’s a sensitive week, his nerves are on edge, and I get it. But I do think he’s being a little paranoid thinking people are trying to pull a rug from underneath him.”
“I’m a fan of AJ, I’m just not going to say what he [Eddie] wants me to say.”
“Not at all [there’s no agenda]. But that’s the line he’s taken, which, to me, I think is unfair.”
A fight prediction was then offered up from Nelson and claimed that it will end in a knockout.
“The fight doesn’t go the distance, and I’m going to back the Brit and go with Anthony Joshua with a stoppage win.”