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Eddie Hearn: Joshua must be ruthless for Usyk rematch

Alexander Usyk Anthony Joshua

By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn wants to see some “aggression” and “ruthless instincts” out of former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk next March.

Hearn sounds like he finally understands what a second loss for Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) could mean to his career, as well as what the ramifications would be for Matchroom Boxing.  There’s a sense of frustration on Hearn’s part that is hard to ignore. Charles Brun smells fear.

It’s not just Joshua that would be affected by another debilitating defeat at the hands of the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) next year.

All good things must end

Matchroom will likely be impacted as well, as Joshua is their flagship fighter in their promotional stable and their biggest moneymaker by far. If Joshua loses, they lose, especially if he decides to pack it in afterward and retire from boxing.

I mean, you don’t know how a proud fighter like Joshua will react to second schooling from Usyk. It would be Joshua’s third defeat in his last five fights for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Great Britain and a clear signal that his days as an elite fighter are numbered.

Would Joshua still bring in the gravy for Matchroom with his stadium fights in the UK? Possibly, but this losing can’t continue for much longer before you see the crowds dissipating and the PPV numbers nosediving off the side of a cliff.

As the saying goes, ‘all good things must end,’ and a second defeat for Joshua against Usyk would make it painfully apparent that his time as a top-flight heavyweight star is quickly nearing the end.

It would be a premature end, but as Lao Tzu once said, “The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long.

AJ can’t afford another loss

Another loss for Joshua against Usyk will end him into a phase of his career where he would still be a celebrity, but he would like a dying star that has exhausted its hydrogen and is now burning helium.

Joshua won’t maintain his star power unless it’s through artificial means in terms of careful match-making by Hearn against sub-level opposition.

That’s where Joshua’s pride will get in the way, as he won’t want to face the lower-level fodder to keep his star burning bright. There’s little chance that Joshua will agree to go back to fighting the B-level opposition he’d been facing earlier in his career.

Will Joshua give in and let Hearn put him out to pasture, matching him exclusively against lesser opposition to keep the gravy train money flowing in? It’s going to be interesting to see.

It’ll be difficult for Joshua to take a backseat and watch Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and other heavyweights doing big things in the division.

But if Joshua can no longer hang with the top-level opposition, there’s no other choice but to keep him in the UK, fighting the likes of Joseph Parker, Derek Chisora, and Michael Hunter.

Joshua already training for the Usyk rematch

“He’s just been chilling, traveling around,” said Eddie Hearn to Boxing Social about Anthony Joshua. “He’s already training already. I was with him this morning, and he’s training, and he’s starting to get his head switched on for the rematch.

Alexander Usyk Anthony Joshua

“I need to see aggression,” said Hearn when asked ‘what he needs to see from Joshua’ in the rematch with Usyk. “You need to see ruthless instincts. You saw Usyk’s face after the fight. He [Joshua]  hardly landed on him.

“He can do some serious damage, but Usyk is a brilliant fighter, and he’s going to have to switch it up,” said Hearn on the Joshua vs. Oleksandr rematch next March. “I think he’s switched on to make the changes.

“He’s a champion,” said Hearn when told that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants Joshua to step aside to let WBC champion Tyson Fury fight Usyk next for the undisputed heavyweight championship with AJ fighting the winner.

“Why step aside to let two guys [Fury and Usyk] fight, and we may not fight him after that anyway. ‘Oh, we’ll have that in the contract,'” said Hearn in predicting what Arum might say. “You don’t know what’s going to happen.

“That’s probably why Wilder didn’t step aside because he thought, ‘I won’t get the winner.’ So there’s no stepping aside [by Joshua]. AJ, all he wants to do is knock Usyk out, and that’s what he’s focused on,”  said Hearn.

The main problem with Joshua fighting with more aggression in the rematch with Usyk is obvious. If Joshua fights harder, he’ll use up his energy faster, and he’ll be vulnerable to gassing out early against Usyk.

Once Joshua gasses out early, he’ll be easy pickings for Usyk to batter with combinations, as he did in the 12th round in their fight on September 25th. Usyk knows how to knockout Joshua now, and you got to believe he’s going to put massive heat on him once he sees his energy stores sagging.

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