Eddie Hearn rejects claims Anthony Joshua will retire after his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk… insisting the British fighter ‘WILL be back’ as he hints at a potential return as soon as December
- Eddie Hearn insists that Anthony Joshua has no plans of hanging up his gloves
- Joshua, 32, lost to Oleksandr Usyk, 35, in Saturday night’s clash in Saudi Arabia
- The Brit has now recorded back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career
- But Hearn is already eyeing up a potential return to the ring as soon as December
Eddie Hearn has dismissed any claims of a potential retirement from Anthony Joshua and insisted that his fighter will be back following a second successive defeat to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua’s promoter was adamant the devastating loss was not the end of the road for the British fighter, and set aside any rumours of a retirement as he hinted at a potential return in December.
Joshua lost to Usyk by split decision on Saturday night in Saudi Arabia, with judges scoring 116-112, 115-113 for the Ukrainian, and 115-113 for Joshua, who has now lost consecutive bouts for the first time in his career.
Eddie Hearn insisted that Anthony Joshua will be back despite a second loss to Oleksandr Usyk
Joshua has now suffered consecutive losses to the Ukrainian after defeat in September 2021
Joshua was visibly dejected in a post-fight press conference
Hearn was full of praise for the victorious Usyk in his analysis of his prize-fighter’s defeat in a talkSPORT interview. ‘He [Joshua] lost a split decision to the pound-for-pound No 1,’ Hearn said.
‘I hope he’s not too ashamed of that because it was a much better performance than the first fight. When you’re in with the pound-for-pound No 1, it’s very difficult to overcome him.
‘I still felt he [Joshua] started a bit slow, and I still feel he needed to let his hands go more. It’s easier said than done. We said that in the build-up. He hurt him repeatedly to the body and head in the ninth.
‘Maybe, he’ll kick himself a little bit for not edging on earlier in the fight, but again, those championship rounds from Usyk were just incredible.’
Joshua put on an improved performance from his loss to the 35-year-old Ukrainian back in September 2021, landing several hefty body shots to visibly rattle his opponent, but seemed to back-off rather than pile on the pressure.
But a stunning ninth round from the Brit looked to have done serious damage after landing a clean right hand to the chin of Usyk.
Usyk’s victory sees him hold on to his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts he won from Joshua
However, it was Usyk who came out all guns blazing in the tenth to reassert himself in the bout, and close out the fight magnificently with three dominant rounds against a tiring Joshua who at times put his own back against the ropes for support.
And the infamous promoter was quick to dispel the notion that Saturday’s loss could spell the end of Joshua, adding: ‘When you lose a split decision to the pound-for-pound No 1, why would you even contemplate [retirement]?
‘It’s about passion; it’s about if you still want it. Look, you saw how much he still wants it by his post-fight interview, but he’s going to take some time.’
Despite a brutal barrage in the ninth round Joshua was put on the back foot for the rest of the fight
Hearn is keen to have his man back in action soon and hinted at a potential bout this winter.
He even suggested a bout that many were calling for years ago against American powerhouse Deontay Wilder, as well as putting forward an all-British contest with Dillian Whyte.
Whoever it is, Joshua will understandably need time not only to recover from the blows from Usyk, but the psychological effects of recording back-to-back defeats.
American Deontay Wilder has been suggested by Hearn as a potential opponent in December
Jamaican-born Dillian Whyte, 34, could also fight Joshua in what would be an all-British bout
Hearn said: ‘I’d like to see him back out, maybe even in late December.
‘Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder; there are so many guys in the top . There are even some Brits coming through, maybe in a couple of fights as well..
‘Hrgovic, he’s now mandatory for Usyk. We got to see what he [Joshua] wants to do ultimately, and it’s going to be a tough defeat to take, but he’ll be back.’