Anthony Joshua has reacted to the opinion that he should retire if he suffers another defeat this weekend.
The 32-year-old is looking to become a three-time world heavyweight champion on Saturday.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) meets Oleksandr Usyk as he aims to regain the WBA Super, IBF, and WBO belts at the Jeddah Superdome.
Defeat in the desert is not an option for the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist, but Johnny Nelson has said that ‘AJ’ could follow WBC champion Tyson Fury into retirement if he is on the wrong end against Ukraine’s former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
When speaking to Sky Sports during fight week, Nelson commented:.
“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.”
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 Saudi Arabia.
And he was relatively diplomatic at the idea that it’s time for him to quit the sport if he doesn’t have his hand raised later this week.
During a media huddle Joshua said:
“What he [Nelson] is kind of saying is that it’s a big night.”
“He’s just showing the magnitude of the fight and saying that it’s a must-win because I don’t want to walk away.”
And Eddie Hearn, who promotes Joshua, believes the angle Nelson has gone down is purely down to the fact that the fighter has recently moved allegiance in terms of his long-term fight broadcaster, he told Boxing Social:
“I think, if ‘AJ’ was signed to Sky [Sports], he [Johnny Nelson] would want him to fight for another five years.”
The fight against Usyk 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.