Anthony Joshua signed a “career deal” just days before losing the most significant heavyweight fight of his life against Oleksandr Usyk.
In a deal that began with a whimper, Joshua dropped his belts. The future of the former two-time world ruler is now up in the air.
Should he get beaten again against Usyk in the rematch, the whole premise of signing that kind of deal would backfire spectacularly.
Two defeats in a row, adding to a four knockdown loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, and AJ would have to consider his options seriously.
Presuming his “career deal” was all leading to a fight with Tyson Fury, that notion might well be off the table for good.
Announcing the agreement, Joshua had no idea what was coming.
“We’ve built some great foundations over the years. I appreciate Matchroom – the company, the team, the family business,” said Joshua.
“I’ve felt comfortable during my years as a boxer. I always thought that the business outside of sport is harder than the actual fighting. Mainly due to the history and some of the problems that some fighters have had. So, to be with Matchroom Sport has been a blessing for me, my family, and my team.
“Outside of that, what Matchroom Sport has done is created an environment for boxing fans. The shows that we have managed to put on have been phenomenal. When I walk out to fight, I look around, and I’m like, ‘mate, this is unbelievable.’
“From where we began, to the middle of the journey, the foundations we have created are phenomenal. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Eddie Hearn, who faces an uphill battle to keep Joshua at the top of the heavyweight table, added: “When AJ and I met in the Matchroom HQ eight years ago, we had a vision and a dream that we shared together.
“There is something quite special about sharing a journey together from the professional debut to the day the gloves get hung up. But it takes a huge amount of belief and unwavering loyalty. Over those eight years, AJ has been the face of British boxing, inspiring a new generation and audience to the sport we love.
“This is the fourth and final promotional agreement we have signed together. I am honored that AJ has confirmed his future with Matchroom.
“Just like we did from the debut, myself and the great team at Matchroom will continue to work relentlessly for Anthony in the many chapters that remain.”
Those “many chapters” could prove to be short-lived unless Joshua pulls something out of the bag in the Usyk rematch.
Joshua has never earned the respect of the US media for his achievements. That will never happen if he loses again and fails to fight Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder before retirement.
Maybe he should have waited until after the Usyk fight before announcing such a deal?
The views expressed in this article are opinions of Phil Jay.