Promoter Frank Warren isn’t too optimistic about Anthony Joshua’s chances of regaining his heavyweight belts from Oleksandr Usyk.
London’s Joshua is set to challenge WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight champion Usyk of Ukraine this Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Warren, who is longtime rivals with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, has a hard time seeing how Joshua can defeat Usyk after what transpired in their first fight last September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Usyk outboxed Joshua over 12 rounds to win a unanimous decision and even appeared to hurt Joshua badly in the final round.
Warren believes this is the end of the line for Joshua and that a second consecutive loss to Usyk would spell the end of his career as an elite heavyweight. Indeed, Warren went so far as to say that Joshua, in that scenario, would become a “gatekeeper.”
“His last few fights, quite a few fights, he’s been wobbled a few times against fighters you would think he would not have a problem with,” Warren told SecondsOut. “This time around he’s under the cosh. He’s under the cosh. In his head he knows if he loses this one, he becomes a gatekeeper if he carries on boxing. I’m sure there are some significant fights [for Joshua], but that aura is well and truly gone.”
Warren, who is the co-promoter of recently retired WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, predicts that Usyk may even earn a stoppage over Joshua the second time around.
“I just feel––l I can’t see him (Joshua) doing it (winning),” Warren said. “I can’t see him doing it because I don’t think he’s got it. I don’t think he’s got the skillset to do it, and I don’t think he’s got the mindset to do it. I really do not. I think this guy’s (Usyk) got his number completely. I feel he will break him and take his heart away and I think he’ll stop him.”
“This time around I think it’s going to be a different fight, as far as Usyk is concerned,” Warren added. “I think Usyk knows he can knock him over, he knows he can outbox him. So it’s not about what he’s doing. It’s what can AJ do.”