By Scott Gilfoid: Anthony Joshua had better enjoy his time as the IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion while he can because he’s going to be losing all 3 of those belts when he faces Oleksandr Usyk, according to Tim Bradley AND Mark Kriegel of ESPN.
Hearn wants Joshua to face Pulev next
Bradley and Kriegel are both predicting a victory for Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) in his title defense against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) in his next fight in April or May. Not surprisingly, the 38-year-old Pulev is the mandatory that Joshua’s wily promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing is pushing for him to face next.
While Joshua is taking care of what will likely be easy work against the 6’4 1/2″ Bulgarian Pulev, Hearn is planning on having Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) take on Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 Kos). Hearn promotes both of those guys, so it’s an ideal situation for him. He also promotes Usyk as well.
Andre Ward wants Joshua not rest on his laurels
“Undisputed heavyweight champion in 2020, probably in the 4th quarter,” said Andre Ward to ESPN. “If Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury take care of business on February 22nd. Hopefully, Anthony Joshua has the desire to not only sit on his belts, and rest on his laurels, but face the winner of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury,” said Ward.
Fans don’t care if Joshua holds a bunch of titles
Joshua needs to realize that the casual boxing fans don’t care whether he collects all the world titles. He’s had too many years of soft fights, and they want to see Joshua step it up already. He was knocked out by Andy Ruiz Jr. last June, and while he did avenge that loss, it was against an out of shape fighter.
Fans want to see Joshua take on the best fighters., and he won’t be doing that by fighting Pulev. Unfortunately, Joshua has things mixed up in his head. He believes that having more world titles is better, because it’ll validate him in the eyes of boxing fans. WRONG. That’s not how fans see it.
Nowadays, fans have time to keep up with all the world titles that a fighter collects, because there are too many sanctioning bodies that have polluted the different weight classes with all theri straps. The only fans care about whether Joshua has more than one world title in his possession are the ULTRA-hardcore boxing fans that keep track of stats, and care about all that junk.
The average doesn’t care whether Joshua has one title or four of them. The only thing they care about is seeing Joshua fight the popular heavyweights, which means they want to see him face Deontay, and to a much lesser extent Usyk. Pulev obviously isn’t on their radar. He’s not done anything to become known in the U.S other than losing to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, and beating a handful of obscure fighters recently
Bradley and Kriegel predict Joshua loses to Usyk
“Usyk will win 2 of the 4 belts. He will beat Anthony Joshua in the later half of 2020,” said Mark Kriegel to ESPN. “First Joshua will beat Pulev for the IBF, then he’ll fight Usyk, and he will lose. You saw him against Ruiz,” Kriegel said about Joshua. “He can out-box Ruiz, but he isn’t going to out-box Usyk.”
“In 2020, I’m thinking that Joshua will lose his titles,” said Tim Bradley to ESPN. “He’s going to lose his titles in 2020 to Usyk. And he’s his [WBO] mandatory]. He’s going to beat Pulev, but Usyk, just like you said, he’s going to be out-boxed. I’m with you on that. He’s losing his titles,” said Bradley on Joshua to lose to Usyk.
The way that Joshua fought Ruiz Jr. in their rematch on December 7, Usyk will beat him. Joshua is now fighting with the Wladimir style, and he’s no longer using his size and power to win. Joshua has some pop in his punches, but his stamina and chin are painfully bad.
If Joshua thinks he’s going to beat a talented fighter like Usyk by using his Wladimir imitation, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening. Heck, Wladimir wouldn’t be able to beat Usyk if the two of them fought. So how in the heck is Joshua, who is a bad imitation of Wladimir, think he’s going to beat Usyk?
Joshua willing to give up one of his titles
“I will stand as a champion, even if I have to give one up,” said Joshua to skysport.com about him potentially needing to give up a strap. “It would give me an opportunity to face another world champion. If I give up a belt it creates more history and entertainment. If I have to, I’ll give it away – but I’ll get it back again,” said Joshua.
This is progress on Joshua’s part in him saying that he’s willing to give up one of his meaningless straps to give the fans entertainment. That’s something Joshua should have done ages ago instead of now after roughly 3 years as a world champion.
Gilfoid thinks it would be nice if Joshua shows some courage, and parts with his International Boxing Federation strap. Right now, fans think Joshua is going to give up his WBO belt, because it’ll enable him to avoid fighting the tougher opponent in Usyk.
It’ll make Joshua look incredibly weak in the eyes of fans if he relinquishes his WBO strap, and then faces the old timer Pulev, considering he would be taking the path of least resistance in making that move. All that’ll do is reinforce the opinion that many fans have about Joshua being a cherry-picker. People see Deontay taking on the best in Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury, and then watch Joshua hand-pick Pulev, Alexander Povetkina and Andy Ruiz Jr.