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Joshua unhappy with Wladimir’s retirement

By Scott Gilfoid: Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is still bummed out about 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko deciding to retire rather than give him a rematch. Joshua, 27, was kind of exposed by Wladimir in their fight on April 29 despite getting an 11th round knockout victory.

Unfortunately for Joshua, he won’t ever get a second chance to prove that he’s a better fighter than Wladimir made him look on that night April. Wladimir didn’t see any point in continuing his boxing career. He’s been fighting since 1996, and he didn’t have the desire to continue on and give Joshua a rematch. Wladimir had the better hand speed, mobility, power and boxing skills. The things that Wladimir had going for him in that fight, Joshua will never be able to duplicate. Wladimir is cut from a different set of cloth. There hasn’t been too many heavyweights that have come down the pike with the skills, physical tools and amateur background that Wladimir had. Wladimir had more to work with physically than Joshua. He’ll never have Wladimir’s hand speed, power, size or the great amateur career that he had. Wladimir’s Olympic gold medal wasn’t controversial like Joshua’s gold medal in the London Olympics in 2012. Wladimir wasn’t fighting in front of a home crowd for all of his fights in the Olympics. He beat everyone he fought without controversy. He dominated.

Wladimir already stayed too long in the sport in the opinion of a lot of boxing fans. He was out of the ring for 2 years after his loss to Tyson Fury in 2015. Not taking a tune-up during those 2 years and then facing Joshua was a miscalculation on Wladimir’s part. He should have stayed busy with his career, but he didn’t and that gave Joshua his only chance of winning. A sharp and active Wladimir would have likely wiped the deck with a limited heavyweight like Joshua, but he was too rusty on the night and hade some mental errors that allowed him to win.

Wladimir showed Joshua’s limitations as a fighter as far as having poor stamina, mobility, a fragile chin, and limiting boxing skills. The biggest flaw of all that Wladimir showed was how incredibly bad Joshua’s recovery time is after gassing. Normal heavyweights are able to come back a round later after they gas out. Joshua stayed fatigued for 4 rounds after he exhausted himself in round 6. For all intents and purposes, Joshua should have lost the fight to Wladimir. The Ukrainian fighter let him off the hook by not finishing him off after he was tired and hurt in round 6.

“In my heart of hearts I knew he probably wouldn’t fight again,” Joshua said to the BBC Sport. “He was saying how obsessed he was with becoming heavyweight champion of the world again. If you fail at the first hurdle, you go again – [he] knew from my side I was ready for the rematch, making it clear that if he wants to go again, we’ll go again. Massive [disappointment]. It was probably a disappointment for his management, his trainer.”

Joshua needs to get over it already. Wladimir has already made his mind up about retirement. He’s not going to hang on for just one fight so that it pleases him. People change their minds. Wladimir initially said he was interested in resuming his boxing career immediately after his fight with Joshua on April 29, but he changed his mind. People can do that. He thought about it, and didn’t fancy the idea of going into another training camp to continue. It was a smart move for Wladimir, because he couldn’t seem to force himself to do the right things in his last 2 fights. Wladimir could have obliterated Tyson Fury if he had gone after him and unloaded with punch after punch, but he wouldn’t do it. He fought passively and lost the fight. Wladimir’s motivation was not there in that fight. I don’t know if it was him not having his late trainer Emanuel Steward with him or what. Wladimir couldn’t pull the trigger to destroy a slapper. That would have been such an easy fight for Wladimir if Steward were still with him in my view. Against Joshua, Wladimir couldn’t pull the trigger after hurting Joshua and having him gassed in the 6th. The motivation wasn’t there for Wladimir to put Joshua out of his misery for the old coup de grace. When a fighter gets like Wladimir was, it’s time to retire.

It doesn’t matter if Wladimir’s management was disappointed. It’s what he wants, not them. Trainers and managers are always going to be unhappy when a big star retires, especially if it’s the biggest star that they work with. But that doesn’t mean the fighter should hang on with their career just to make them happy. They’re not the ones in their 40s, taking blows to the head, and taking the risks inside the ring. I’m trying to picture where Joshua will be when he’s Wladimir’s age at 41, and I just cannot imagine him still fighting. I think Joshua will be retired long before he hits his 40s. Indeed, as soon as he’s beaten on a regular basis and sent to contender status, I think he’ll pack it in and retire. I suspect that Joshua will retire by his early to mid-30s. His stamina is too limited, and he gets hurt when he takes shots. Dillian Whyte had Joshua hurt and gassed out in the 2nd round of their fight in 2015. Wladimir had Joshua hurt and gassed out in the 6th round of their fight. This is Joshua in his PRIME years. At 27, you’re supposed to have great stamina and be able to fight hard for an entire fight without gassing. Joshua can’t to do that. I think it’s only a matter of time before he starts taking losses left and right. At that point, I think Joshua will retire, and I see it happening well before his 30s. When Joshua does retire, he might end up disappointing his promoter Eddie Hearn when he lets him know the news of his retirement decision. A lot of Joshua’s boxing fans will be upset too. But if he chooses to continue his career just so that he doesn’t hurt their feelings, he’ll wind up as just another fading fighter that stayed in the game too long.

Joshua now has to defend his IBF title against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in his next fight. That’s a winnable one for Joshua. As long as Joshua doesn’t gas out, again, he should win the fight. But, after Joshua gets Pulev out of the way, he’s going to have a really tough fight against his WBA mandatory challenger Luis Ortiz. That’s one that Joshua could lose. He’ll have home country advantage, of course, but it doesn’t matter. Ortiz has power in either hand, and he’s got that southpaw stance. He also knows how to throw an uppercut just Joshua. If Joshua tries to bum rush Ortiz, he could wind up gassing out and getting stopped. Joshua is going to need to fight smart for a change, because his usual primitive bum rushing style of fighting will likely get him knocked out by Ortiz. This is a fighter with tons of amateur experience in Cuba. You’ve got to have some ideas in your head if you want to beat a fighter like Ortiz. You can’t just come at Ortiz, saying, Okay, Plan-A is to bum rush, and after that, I have no clue.’ That’s not going to work.

Joshua needs to dump his trainer and find someone that can teach him how to box, and importantly, how to conserve his energy so he doesn’t keep punching himself out. It would be smart if Joshua were to stop lifting weights and lose 20 lbs. of useless muscle. Fighting at 250 lbs. is too heavy for Joshua. He needs to drop some weight so he can improve his stamina and quickness. When Joshua was fighting all these 3rd tier fodder opponents his management was matching him again, it didn’t matter that he was carrying around so much useless muscle. But now that he’s going to be fighting better opposition, he’s going to need to lose that weight if he doesn’t want his career to be over in a heartbeat.

Here’s what Joshua needs to do for him to improve his career:

– Dump his trainer and find someone that can teach him how to box

– Lose 25 pounds of muscle to get down to 225

– Stop lifting weights

– Run daily. Do lots of cardio work rather than resistance training

– Work hand speed

– Try and improve his endurance

– Work on mobility inside the ring. Joshua was moving around like a sloth against Wladimir. He’s too slow

– Strengthen his jab

Joshua is going to need to get his mind right otherwise he’s never going to get past Luis Ortiz in 2018 and definitely not Deontay Wilder. If Joshua is still upset about Wladimir retiring when he eventually faces Pulev, Ortiz or Wilder, he’ll likely lose to them. Heck, Joshua might still get beat even if he’s fully mentally engaged. Joshua’s physical flaws and his lack of boxing skills will be a real handicap for him when he gets inside the ring with Deontay and Ortiz.

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