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Should Anthony Joshua consider quitting boxing?

Image: Should Anthony Joshua consider quitting boxing?

By Romer Cherubim: Many people saw Anthony Joshua’s fight against Jermaine Franklin at London’s O2 Arena at the weekend. While it is understandable that Joshua would wish to exercise a degree of caution because he has lost his last two fights, AJ’s performance on Saturday night left some commentators and boxing fans unimpressed.

To his credit, Joshua admitted that he should have knocked out his brave opponent. The question remains, however, why he did not. Some say that Joshua has lost his edge, while his supporters maintain that it will take time for him to adjust to the methods adopted by his new trainer Derrick James. James started training Joshua after his second loss to Oleksandr Usyk.

The change in trainer is a plausible reason for AJ’s fans to justify the apparent lack of passion he demonstrated against Franklin on Saturday night. However, Joshua is no ordinary fighter. He claims to be an elite fighter. For AJ to make this claim, it is only fair to compare him to other elite fighters in the heavyweight division who changed trainers.

In this regard, the obvious comparison would be with the WBC Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury. Fury’s trainer for his first bout with Deontay Wilder was Ben Davison. While it was generally acknowledged that Davison had done a sterling job in making Fury fit enough to compete again at the top level, Fury considered that he needed a little bit more to make him not just a skilled boxer but also a dangerous fighter. Tyson Fury, therefore, enlisted the services of SugarHill Steward to do just that.

Fury knew that Steward’s expertise would be needed if the Gypsy King was to beat Deontay Wilder, especially if he was to win against Wilder in the US. Sure enough, Fury’s gamble on Steward paid off with a TKO stoppage against Wilder in Steward’s first fight in charge and then an even better knockout of Wilder in Fury’s third fight against the Bronze Bomber.

Even the most ardent of AJ’s supporters must be dubious as to whether Joshua can still cut it at the highest level, given that Jermaine Franklin is no Deontay Wilder. The question then must be what should Anthony Joshua’s next move be. His promoter Eddie Hearn said after Joshua’s victory on Saturday night that he would like to see Joshua fight Dillian Whyte next. Hearn, of course, is thinking about the income that can be generated from an all British clash between the two Londoners on home soil. If this fight is broadcast on Pay Per View television, the takings from this income stream alone will hit the roof. However, is this matchup in Joshua’s best interests? AJ himself has reservations about this and said so publicly after Saturday’s fight.

Joshua said after his victory against Jermaine Franklin on Saturday that he would like to fight Tyson Fury next. But, will this bout be competitive? Nobody can blame Joshua for having high ambitions. But, Fury is unbeaten and does not look like he will be beaten any time soon. If Joshua is pitted next against Deontay Wilder, Wilder is the most devastating puncher in the heavyweight division. If Joshua were to fight either Fury or Wilder in his next fight, AJ would risk defeat.

Joshua’s supporters may say that he needs a few tune-up fights to rise to Fury’s and Wilder’s level. Is AJ ready to do this, though?

Many heavyweight boxers have kept fighting longer than they should have. They did so for fame and fortune. Anthony Joshua has had enough of both. He should therefore think long and hard about whether he still has the hunger for the game. If he does not, AJ should seriously contemplate retiring from boxing, safe in the knowledge that he has achieved much in the sport. He is an Olympic Champion and a two-time Heavyweight Champion Of The World.

AJ keeps talking about leaving a legacy. What better way would there be for him to bow out than with a victory? If AJ retires from boxing now, the world would be his oyster, with a career in broadcasting or possibly in Hollywood beckoning.

Only Anthony Joshua can decide what he will do next. Here’s hoping that he will make the right decision and base it only on what is good for him!

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