Promoter Frank Warren says Anthony Joshua looked gunshy in his loss to Oleksandr Usyk last week in London. Warren says he doesn’t think Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) is capable of beating Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) to try and win back his IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles.
According to Warren, Joshua has shown signs of being gunshy since his rematch with the badly out-of-shape 283-lb Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2019.
Joshua should have dominated; given the poor conditioning Ruiz came into the rematch with, he couldn’t pull the trigger due to his fear.
Ruiz’s previous upset seventh round knockout win over Joshua took something away from him, and he hasn’t been the same guy ever since.
Joshua is gunshy now
“As for redeeming himself, I think he’d [Joshua] get knocked out. No,” said Warren to Thaboxingvoice when asked if Joshua can change his game plan for the Usyk rematch.
“What did he do in the Ruiz fight? In the first fight, Ruiz absolutely did a job on him. In the second fight, Ruiz looked like he trained in his larder.
“He came in, he was heavy, he was fat, he didn’t take it seriously. He was a bit embarrassing as a world heavyweight champion to show up how he did, but he did that.
“He was like treading in the custard that he’s probably been eating for the last six months. He couldn’t move his legs.
“As I said early on, he caught him [Joshua] with a good shot in the fourth round, and he fought on the back foot. He fought on the back foot because I think he’s a bit gunshy,” said Warren.
Joshua looked like he didn’t want to let his hands go against Usyk for fear of being countered.
We saw Usyk wobble Joshua in the third round when he threw a lazy jab that the Ukrainian fighter countered with a stiff right hand.
Even before then, Joshua looked afraid to throw his power shots because he didn’t seem to have faith in his ability to take Usyk’s power.
In Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2019, he wasn’t letting his hands go with power shots. Instead, he was fighting like Wladimir Klitschko in a safety-first manner.
AJ can’t beat Usyk in a rematch
“That’s Tyson’s decision, and he has to come through his fight yet,” said Warren when asked if Fury will go for the undisputed heavyweight championship in 2022.
“In boxing, anything can happen, especially with the big guys. I expect him to come through [against Deontay Wilder] and expect him to be victorious.
“We know that Deontay is a massive puncher. I think it’s going to be a much better fight than the three of them because the only way that Deontay can win the fight is to come out and be letting his bombs go.
“He ain’t going to outbox in a million years, he isn’t going to outbox Tyson Fury, and he’s not going to out-jab him.
“The only chance he’s got is to go out, throw his bombs and try and take him out. If he does that, I think it’s going to be a spectacular fight because Tyson will respond.
“I expect Tyson to beat him again, and as I said, he’s [Wilder] a big guy, and he’s dangerous. We’ve seen that on many occasions.
“If Tyson comes through, he’s got a big decision. If he wants to fight Usyk, so be it. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t.
“But I can’t see in a million years Matchroom, who are Joshua’s promoters, are recommending that.
“They are clinging by their fingertips in the heavyweight division; they will want to try and get those titles back [from Oleksandr Usyk].
“Will they get them back? I don’t think so because I don’t think Joshua is capable of beating Usyk.
“Usyk is a brave, tough guy. He went into a stadium with 65,000 people, and there were probably 500 people supporting Usyk.
“He went into the lion’s den. he not only went into the lion’s den, but he also owns the lion’s den,” said Warren.
It seems a foolish risk for Joshua to go straight into the rematch with Usyk without at least taking one tune-up fight. Joshua lost 2 out of his last four fights, and that’s a sign that something is seriously wrong.
Switching trainers and taking a tune-up fight would be a wise thing for Joshua to do before considering facing Usyk in a rematch.
The way that Joshua and Hearn are choosing to take the immediate rematch with Usyk, it’s reminiscent of David Price going straight into a rematch with Tony Thompson after losing to him by a second round knockout in February 2013.
That was back when Price was still considered a future star in the heavyweight division. Instead of Price going into a different direction, he took an immediate rematch with Thompson
In July 2013, and was stopped in the fifth round. Price’s career was never the same after that second defeat to Thompson. Joshua is making the same mistake Price did, and there’s a good chance his career will be permanently hurt in a second defeat to Usyk.
Fury vs. Joshua is still a huge fight in Britain
“I would prefer the AJ fight because I feel Tyson would always have his number,” said Warren when asked who he would prefer between Joshua and Usyk for Fury to fight.
“I’ve always said that from day one. It’s like the second Tyson fight he had with Deontay. I said he’d stop him, and I felt he’d stop him.
“I felt he’d take the center ring, push him back and negate all his strengths. His strengths are his big punches, and it’s really the same with Joshua.
“His strength is his punch power. A good boxer will always beat a good puncher. The problem is, Tyson is also a big puncher.
“You only need to look at his record and see how many people he stopped.
“He certainly did a job on Wilder last time, and I honestly believe if him [Fury] and Joshua got in the ring, you can say that you could bet your hose on Tyson knocking him over.
“It’s lost the luster of the four belts being on the line,” said Warren when asked if the Joshua vs. Fury fight has now lost the lust now that AJ has lost.
“In Britain, I’m sure everybody would want to see the fight, and I’m sure in Britain there are certain people that think Joshua would beat Tyson, and the selling point would be, ‘Can Joshua redeem himself against Tyson?’
“That would be the selling point. Me being honest, it would be a selling point,” said Warren.
Joshua vs. Fury would still be a big fight in the UK if it happened right now, but that could change if AJ loses the rematch with Usyk in early 2022.
A second defeat for Joshua would be brutal, and it’s unlikely that his promoter Eddie Hearn would agree to let him fight Fury under that scenario.
Joshua’s confidence would be at a career-low coming off a second defeat to Usyk, and it would be unthinkable that Hearn would favor AJ going straight into a match with Fury.
More likely than not, if Joshua loses to Usyk in the rematch, Hearn will have AJ take two or three confidence builders to learn how to win again and work on the mistakes he made against Usyk.
A good confidence builder for Joshua would be to fight Agit Kabayel, Michael Hunter, Hughie Fury, Derek Chisora, or Zhang Zhilei.