By: Sean Crose
“I will. I will retire if I lose. I’m not here to battle people. If people want me to retire I will retire.” So former WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua told the Daily Mail. “I’m not going to fight if people don’t want me to.” Joshua has had a tough go as of late, losing two fights in a row to the skillful Oleksandr Usyk. The second defeat, which occurred late last summer, was capped off by a bizarre incident which saw Joshua take the ring mic and ramble to the assembled live and broadcast audience. It was painful to see.
Now the 24-3 Joshua will be returning on Saturday to face the 21-1 Jermaine Franklin at London’s O2 arena. It’s a smart comeback fight. After dropping two in a row in major bouts to Usyk, it only makes sense for Joshua to next face an opponent who isn’t overly well known. America’s Franklin is undoubtedly the underdog, though his only loss came to contender Dillian Whyte. Still, while Franklin will no doubt give it his all this weekend in London, seeing the Joshua fight as the golden opportunity it is, Joshua will be entering the ring as the favorite on Saturday.
A loss, then, would prove to be catastrophic for Joshua’s career. Hence, the Englishman’s desire for retirement should he once again taste defeat, this time at the O2. “It’s not even about the money,” Joshua said. “It’s about the competitor in you. That’s what’s important.” Perhaps tellingly, Joshua appears to be willing to speak somewhat in detail on the subject of hanging up his gloves. “I know when I am retired, I am gonna be chilling,” he said. “I’m gonna be thinking f–k everyone. I am done.” With that being said, Joshua also admitted in the interview that pressure is simply a part of the job.
Promoter Eddie Hearn weighed in on the importance of this weekend’s matchup for Joshua. “People talk about whether his career is over if he loses this fight. Well, his world title ambitions are in tatters if he loses this fight and that’s what’s important to him.” It’s clear team Joshua is well aware of the gravity of the current situation. “Defeat would be devastating,” Hearn continued. “So for that reason I think he tries to distance himself and say it’s just another fight but we all know there is a lot on the line on Saturday.”