There was a time when Anthony Joshua was the dominant force in heavyweight boxing, amassing an impressive 22 fight undefeated streak – 21 of those won by knockout. But following a shock defeat to American Andy Ruiz in 2019 and two subsequent back-to-back defeats to Ukrainian fighter Oleksandr Usyk, the former two-time unified world heavyweight champion finds himself at a crossroads.
Ahead of his return to the ring on 1 April against a yet-to-be-confirmed opponent, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has declared the bout a must-win for the 33-year-old, admitting that a third straight loss could spell the end of the British heavyweight’s career.
Speaking to boxing channel iFL TV, Hearn said: ‘You go into that fight in April – you know that with defeat, it’s all over, really. It would be a third back-to-back defeat.
‘And yet a great performance and a showreel knockout gets everyone saying, "We’re back, we’re back baby." That’s what I can’t wait for, because I love it when our backs are against the wall. That’s the best moments, and this is one of those moments for AJ.'
Provided Joshua gets past his April opponent, Hearn repeated his hopes for the Brit to be involved in three fights this year – the first, a potential rematch against British rival Dillian Whyte, who Joshua beat by a technical knockout back in 2015.
'AJ wants a big fight in the summer. 'The one that would make sense and the one that should be hopefully quite straightforward to make is the rematch with Dillian.’
Win that, Hearn continued, and Joshua will look to a bigger fight later on in the year. 'AJ wants to be in the biggest fights possible and if a bigger fight rears its head – there's only two bigger fights in the division than Dillian Whyte. That's Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
'If they appear somehow, 100% we will look at those as well. But the key is April 1.'
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