Anthony Joshua bristles at the debate over his boxing future if he loses Saturday’s career-defining heavyweight rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in Jeddah.
Joshua is seeking to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts he lost to Ukraine’s pound for pound contender Usyk through an emphatic points decision in London last September.
If successful, the Briton will become a three-time heavyweight world champion having previously avenged a stoppage defeat to Andy Ruiz in 2019.
Victory at the King Abdullah Sports City would likely set up a potential seismic domestic showdown with Tyson Fury, while a third professional loss would propel him below Usyk and Fury in the division’s hierarchy.
With the crossroads moment beckoning, Joshua has faced repeated questions over the consequences of classy southpaw Usyk retaining the belts and the 32-year-old has hinted he could walk away.
“It’s up to me at the end of the day, it’s not up to anyone else what I do with my career,” he said.
“But if the game doesn’t want me any more, I don’t have to do this. Why do I do it? It’s because it’s all I know.
“This is my 12th consecutive world title fight. I’ve been in world title fights back to back 12 times.
“It happens – if you’re fighting people at world level, you’re meeting people of world level quality. I’m not fighting people who are below par.
“This is the third Olympic gold medallist I’m fighting. I’m fighting good fighters. I took a loss before and I came back. But if the game doesn’t need me any more…”
Promoter Eddie Hearn insists that any decision over Joshua’s future will be made in the knowledge that Usyk is a “genius”.
The Ukrainian, who enlisted in the Kiev defence force when Russia invaded his homeland in February, won all but 15 of his 350 amateur fights and has built a flawless professional record of 19 wins.
Usyk left Ukraine in March for a training camp in Poland and more recently in Dubai. He has had to spend so much time away from his family — he has a wife, Yekaterina, and three kids — and that has not been easy.
But he is determined to provide some joy to his country, where the fight will be broadcast free of charge in a decision by organizers sparked by Usyk’s original push to buy the TV rights for the bout.
“I’m very pleased about that,” he said. “We all worked hard on it.”
with The AP