By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn is worried that the career of Anthony Joshua could be derailed by the crafty former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in September.
The smart thing for Joshua to have done would have been to bin the WBO title so that he wouldn’t be forced to defend against mandatory Usyk.
It wouldn’t have mattered to boxing fans if Joshua had vacated his WBO belt. I’ll be here to say, ‘I told you so,’ when Joshua loses to Usyk.
Joshua should have vacated the WBO title
Believe me, the news of Joshua vacating the WBO title would go right over their heads.
The only ones that would notice would be hardcore boxing fans, and they would be relieved because they’d prefer to see AJ fight Dillian Whyte or Andy Ruiz Jr.
With all the green that Joshua will make by fighting the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury III contest winner, it makes no sense for him to risk it against the upset-minded Usyk.
Hearn says that Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) could lose to Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) if he’s not switched on for the fight.
The highly skilled southpaw Usyk has a better gas tank than Joshua, and he’s the more mobile fighter.
It may not matter if Joshua is 100% switched on, as he’s facing a guy that knows how to win. But, more importantly, Usyk hasn’t lost a fight in 12 years since his narrow loss to Egor Mekhontsev in the 2009 World Championships in Milan.
Hearn: Joshua’s career could be derailed
“This is a fight that could derail the career of Joshua if he’s not on it if he’s not 100 percent,” Hearn said to Sky Sports about AJ’s title defense against Usyk in September.
“AJ needs to be ruthless. He needs to show the [ruthlessness of] Derek Chisora with more cuteness and sharpness,” Hearn continued.
“Usyk just wants the fight. He wants the opportunity to become heavyweight champion,” Hearn said.
“[Joshua] loves the fight. We all know it’s tricky. We all know it’s difficult. But what else are we going to do?
“AJ wants to make a statement; these are the fights that he likes,” said Hearn.
Eddie is dead-on correct about Usyk potentially derailing Joshua’s career. If AJ loses the fight, he’ll be stuck facing Usyk in a rematch with his career literally hanging by a thread.
A second loss for Joshua against Usyk would effectively end his career in the same Larry Holmes’ career was finished by the much smaller Michael Spinks in 1986.
Most boxing fans would agree with me when I say that Joshua has too much ego, and he’s too mentally wrapped up in trying to become the undisputed champion.
It’s as if Joshua needs this flimsy accomplishment to validate himself that he’s the best. Becoming undisputed doesn’t mean anything. All it proves is that Joshua was capable of beating flawed champions.
Joshua moving on after Fury fight disappearing
“We’re moving on to Anthony Joshua fighting the former undisputed cruiserweight king, who everyone is afraid of fighting and think that AJ isn’t going to fight,” said Frank Smith of Matchroom Boxing to iFL TV.
“It’s a big fight in its own right. We’d been hoping to make the undisputed heavyweight championship.
“Everyone got their hopes up for that. AJ’s career is the most important thing right now to make sure he doesn’t lose momentum, and he keeps fighting.
“Hopefully news on that soon, but massive fight [Joshua vs. Usyk]. I think Tyson Fury has got a tough test with Deontay Wilder.
“If Wilder beats Fury, then AJ will fight Wilder. He wants to become the undisputed heavyweight champion.
“First things first, he’s got to get past Usyk, and I truly believe he does that in great fashion. Our aim still is to make the biggest fights.
“The undisputed fight, whoever that is against, that’ll be our aim. AJ is the king of the heavyweight division.
“He’s the biggest star, and he’ll continue to show that with a sold-out crowd in September, provided we can have sold-out crowds,” said Frank Smith.
Joshua should have never taken the time to negotiate with Fury in the first place, given that he was still dealing with his arbitration case against Fury.