ANTHONY JOSHUA returns to the ring this weekend, for the first time since his consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk. The former world champion will be facing off against American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin, in a crucial bout for Joshua’s career.
Joshua, who is 33-years-old, has admitted that he will retire from boxing if he loses to Franklin on Saturday. “I’m not here to battle people. If people want me to retire, I will retire,” he told MailOnline. “It’s not even about the money. It’s about the competitor in you. That’s what’s important.”
The pressure is certainly on for Joshua, who has faced immense scrutiny since his defeats to Usyk. However, those close to him believe that he can handle the pressure and come out on top.
Former cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson expects Joshua to beat Franklin but thinks that the fighter should retire if he loses. “If Anthony Joshua loses, he jacks it in. If he doesn’t jack it, he should jack it,” Nelson said. “Especially when you’ve had the success and the heights that he’s had. So he can’t afford to lose. That’s a must. Then from that, it’s confidence building.”
Despite the pressure, Joshua has remained focused and in good spirits leading up to the fight. Lawrence Okolie, who has sparred with Joshua before, believes that the fighter is ready for the challenge. “He’s been in high-pressure situations for a long, long time,” Okolie told Sky Sports News. “That’s 10 plus years now [since his Olympic Games]. We spoke this weekend, he’s in good spirits. He’s feeling strong, fit and he’s done a lot of sparring. So I don’t want to speak for him but I expect to go in there and put on a great show.”
While Franklin may pose a challenge, many are expecting Joshua to come out on top. Nelson believes that Joshua needs to prove himself in order to regain his confidence and continue his boxing career. “For Anthony Joshua that’s everything. Because he’s had to go through a bit of turmoil, mentally, emotionally and come to terms with the fact that he’s no longer the best fighter, officially, in the world. He’s got to get in the queue again like everybody else,” Nelson said.
If Joshua is able to secure a victory on Saturday, it could be a crucial turning point in his career. It remains to be seen what the future holds for the fighter, but one thing is for sure: he will be giving it his all in the ring this weekend.