Johnny Nelson has predicted that Anthony Joshua could follow Tyson Fury into retirement if he loses this weekend.
The former WBO cruiserweight king will be an interested observer when Britain’s golden boy Joshua faces Oleksandr Usyk in a mouthwatering rematch on Saturday.
Joshua was on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against the Ukrainian in London 11 months ago as Usyk grabbed the WBA Super, IBF, IBO and WBO world heavyweight titles.
The 32-year-old gets his opportunity at revenge later this week at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia and the fight will have even more significance now that the aforementioned Fury’s recently-relinquished Ring Magazine title will also be at stake in a vacant capacity.
But Nelson, who made a wild claim last month that he would have beaten former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk had they met, believes it’s now or never for ‘AJ’.
Nelson was speaking to Sky Sports about compatriot Joshua this week:
“He had to go back and lick his wounds, emotionally as well as physically.
“The things that are said about him: how good he is, how good he was or isn’t. He had to deal with all of that stuff and deal with the loss itself.”
Streaming giant DAZN, to whom Joshua committed his broadcasting future back in June in a groundbreaking deal, will show the fight in the US, as well as more than 190 territories, including Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Poland, while Sky Sports Box Office will broadcast the fight in the UK & Ireland after paying a staggering £23million to do so.
Fury is still the WBC champion, despite having announced his retirement from the sport once again last week, and the president of the sanctioning body, Mauricio Sulaiman has given him until August 26 to confirm his retirement in writing before the title status will be considered.
Joshua has tasted losing before, losing not only to Usyk but also in a shock to California-based Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr. back in June 2019. He was dropped four times and stopped inside seven rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York before regaining his belts at the Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
“Now he’s had to recharge himself, reset, rethink about how he’s going to deal with this fight. We may be looking at a completely different animal now because he knows what Usyk is capable of doing, he knows what mistakes he made.
“It’s a fighter’s mentality: You always think, ‘I’m gonna be a world champion, I’m gonna be this.’ He doesn’t want to hang about, he wants to be the best guy.”
And while defeat in the desert may not be an option for Joshua, Nelson thinks we’ll see him leave the sport if he doesn’t get the win.
“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.”
You can watch the interview below courtesy of Sky Sports Boxing on Twitter:
"If Usyk beats him, I reckon 'AJ' will walk away." 👀
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) August 15, 2022