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Anthony Joshua At The Crossroads

By: Sean Crose

There was good reason to believe he might be the last man standing after all of the dust settled. The heavyweight division had entered it’s post-Klitschko era, where numerous supersized heavyweights were vying for the chance to reign supreme. Among the aspirants were the brutally hard hitting American Deontay Wilder, the boisterous Englishman Tyson Fury, and Fury’s statuesque countryman, Anthony Joshua. It appeared that Joshua, at the very least, might be the most popular of the three. There was a lot to like. Handsome, charming, undefeated, and hard hitting, Joshua looked to be the whole package.

Then came Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua has fought twice in the past two years, losing each time to Usyk in frustrating fashion. The Ukranian skill master not only lifted Joshua’s numerous heavyweight belts from around the Londoner’s waits, he also appeared to take something out of the man psychologically. After the second loss to Usyk, after all, Joshua went on to give a kind of rambling speech with the ringside mic.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Joshua is returning to the ring this weekend. What’s more, a true king has yet to emerge in the heavyweight division. While Wilder was bested by Fury twice, an undisputed title throwdown between Fury and Usyk fell apart at the last minute. The question now is not only whether or not Joshua can grasp the divisional crown, but whether or not he can still be a top competitor for it. Joshua’s fight this weekend with Jermaine Franklin may provide some answers.

As always, Joshua appears fit, dedicated, and determined. The man is a consummate professional, no matter what else some may say about him. He’s said some things recently however, that make it clear that his mind is at least somewhat on retirement. “I will retire if I lose,” he’s told the Daily Mail of this weekend’s fight. “I’m not here to battle people. If people want me to retire I will retire.” 

Undoubtedly Joshua is viewing the current state of his career objectively. “It’s not even about the money,” the Daily Mail recorded him as saying. “It’s about the competitor in you. That’s what’s important.” Will the widely unknown American Franklin be able to bring the competitor out of Joshua this weekend when the two men square off at London’s O2 arena? That, frankly, depends on Franklin. “I think he tries to distance himself and say it’s just another fight,” promoter Eddie Hearn said of Joshua to the Mail, “but we all know there is a lot on the line on Saturday.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

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