Johnny Nelson: “What drives Anthony Joshua to box on? If it’s for the wrong reasons, he will be found wanting… Bar [Dillian] Whyte, Tyson Fury and [Oleksandr] Usyk are the two fighters that I think would set AJ alight. If the fight has gone in him, we’ll see it in those fights”
By Johnny Nelson, Boxing Expert & Columnist
Anthony Joshua would be “set alight” by a fight against Tyson Fury but his motivation should be questioned after showing “vulnerability” in the win over Jermaine Franklin, says Johnny Nelson.
Joshua beat Franklin by unanimous decision at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night, claiming a clear unanimous decision, 118-111 and 117-111 twice. Read on for Johnny’s verdict…
It was good to see Anthony Joshua back in the ring and to get the win. He needs those little confidence boosters to slowly but surely build him up to it again.
He’s been criticised for the fashion of the win – and yes, I’m probably one of them.
‘What drives Anthony Joshua to box on?’
My question is, ‘what drives Anthony Joshua to box on?’ If it’s for the wrong reasons, he will be found wanting.
Boxing is the only place you can’t hide. It’s very lonely; it exposes so many vulnerabilities and I don’t think I’m on my own in saying this, there were too many I saw that I wasn’t comfortable with on Saturday night.
It kills me to say this, because I’m a big fan of AJ, but I just saw some things that shouldn’t be there for a guy at 33 years old that has been a two-time world heavyweight champion.
He’s still looking over to his corner mid-fight – which you don’t do – and he’s still fighting in a way that comes across as though he’s unsure of what he could or should do.
To have so much experience, and to have had so much success, to be making such rookie mistakes, I think the risk is that he’s going to end up losing to someone he shouldn’t lose to.
After he lost to [Oleksandr] Usyk, I said, ‘the problem isn’t tonight, the problem is how he gets his head round his future – his motivation, his drive for fighting’.
Once you’ve been at the top of the world for at least seven years in your career, you’re the golden boy, and then all of a sudden you’re in the queue like everyone else, then what’s your motivation?
‘Fury and Usyk would set AJ alight’
The big fights are there for Anthony Joshua to have. He is probably the biggest treasure at the end of the rainbow to fight out of all of the other fighters in the world. Like it or not.
The fire will be in his gut for those kinds of fights.
It’s the fights like Franklin where he’s liable to get turned over. He needs to get his act in order, act like a former champion, act like a guy that fully believes in himself and his capabilities. But I just didn’t see that.
It’s down to AJ and what he wants next. He’s talking about wanting to fight in eight to 12 weeks’ time, and I get that, but it doesn’t matter how physically fit you get yourself if mentally your head is not in it.
They’ve got to be careful. Would you put him in with somebody like Dillian Whyte next? That’s a fight that, here in the UK, would sell.
That’s a fight that he’s won before. That’s a fight that will put a fire in his belly to where he’ll think, ‘I’ve got to pull my act together here’. Whyte is dangerous, hungry and he wants it.
Bar Whyte, Tyson Fury and Usyk are the two fighters that I think would set Anthony Joshua alight. If the fight has gone in him, we’ll see it in those fights. If he still has it in him, we’ll see it.
It’s hard to get excited about a potential fight with Fury, because that dance has almost happened so many times.
Whyte, here in the UK, that’s what I’d do.