Tony Bellew has voiced his opinions on Anthony Joshua’s return to the ring, and appears to be on the same page as Deontay Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott, as to the main problem for AJ.
Joshua made his comeback last week against American Jermaine Franklin, securing a wide points victory, but failing to get the knockout he craved.
Most felt that Joshua needed a statement performance to make the top heavyweights take notice again and although he never looked in danger of losing, the stoppage also never seemed on the horizon.
Some pundits feel Joshua has not been the same since his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr back in 2019, and question whether we’ll ever see the aggressive, imposing, AJ again.
Breaking down the fight Bellew told The DAZN Boxing Show, that it’s when Joshua is allowed to overthink that he reverts to being conservative.
“When he’s allowed to be conservative I think he will. But believe you me if he goes in the ring against Dillian Whyte you think for a minute he’s going to be conservative. Believe you me he will meet anyone who puts it on him head on. Whether that be Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Dillian Whyte, if anyone puts it on AJ he ain’t crawling up and being conservative, he’s firing back, he’s an animal when he wants to be.
But if he’s allowed to overthink things and given time to dictate the pace then I think he’s trying to box towards a game plan and be conservative.”
This mirrors the thoughts of Scot, who worries for AJ if he can’t recapture that aggressive style.
“Ever since that defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr, he has been overthinking in the ring. For someone that big, someone that strong, that can be that imposing on his opponent, that is not a good thing.
Why hasn’t he been putting punches together well in his last three or four fights against smaller opponents? It is not a physical thing, I don’t think it is a trainer thing, I think it’s a mental thing.”
Bellew’s theory looks like it will be put to the test, with Dillian Whyte now confirmed as the favourite to face Joshua next. All eyes will be on whether the former two-time heavyweight champion can Whyte out of there in the same fashion he did back in 2015.