Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Uysk is not the ‘last chance’ you think it is
20th June 2022


And yes, if Joshua is to lose to Usyk once more, it is all but certain that we will never see that all-British heavyweight unification bout. It will be the lost fight of this generation, in Britain at least.

If Joshua is indeed defeated by the unbeaten Ukrainian again, calls for his retirement will be loud and plentiful – if unjustified. For Joshua, as much as he was seemingly engineered from birth and later moulded by Hearn to be heavyweight champion, does not need to be defined by that status; nor does his career need to be defined by a potential fight with Fury.

Of course he could ease into the next phase of his life as a promoter and model, but that would feel a waste of the Olympic gold medalist’s ability. Many devoted followers of boxing are quick to deride Joshua as a fraud who was protected en route to the heavyweight gold and who was then exposed in fights with an aged Wladimir Klitschko – despite AJ’s late knockout win – and Usyk, as well as Ruiz Jr.

The truth is that Joshua is not the smartest or most adaptable heavyweight out there, but he has clean fundamentals and fearsome knockout power. Just because he may not in fact be destined for a fight with WBC champion Fury, who is his opposite in so many ways, that does not mean his career should abruptly end for a lack of titles and the elusion of a bout with the “Gypsy King”.

“If you lose, you lose to a pound-for-pound No 1, and then you regroup and you go again,” Hearn told The Independent this month.

“But obviously you want to win, and if he wins, I believe the Tyson Fury fight will happen; if he doesn’t, he goes back to being a contender again.”

There is nothing wrong with Joshua being a contender. In fact, that status could open up the most interesting phase of AJ’s career, with the possibility of fights against the likes of Deontay Wilder, old foe Dillian Whyte, fellow Olympic medalist Joe Joyce, and up-and-comer Daniel Dubois.

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And, if all goes well, such a period could build Joshua back up to a title shot. More intriguingly, though, it could reintroduce fans to the AJ who was so enthralling in the first place: the swaggering juggernaut who provided British followers with so many entertaining evenings that guaranteed knockouts and little else.

If that is indeed how Joshua is to be remembered – knockouts and little else – would that really be so bad?

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