Former two-time WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has warned Anthony Joshua his star might wane if he doesn’t face Oleksandr Usyk again.
The pair have a rematch clause after Usyk dominated Joshua in the first fight, taking his belts in the process.
Joshua got linked to walking away in favor of allowing Usyk to battle Tyson Fury for all the top division marbles. But the deal fell through at the last minute.
As the Briton contemplates his next move and the prospect of losing again in a one-sided fashion, Kyiv Mayor Klitschko gave his advice.
“It is his decision,” Klitschko told Sky News. “But my personal opinion? If Joshua sidesteps, at this moment, when the boxing audience expects a rematch and wants to see Joshua vs. Usyk, it would show weakness.
“Joshua, don’t do that, please.
“As fighters, we fight not just for ourselves but the audience. The audience decides. If the audience wants the fight, it must happen.
“If Joshua sidesteps, I am not sure that the interest in Joshua would be so big in the future.”
Interest in Joshua is high in the United Kingdom. However, worldwide and especially in the United States, Joshua struggles for respect.
His decision to fight mostly at home and against lesser opponents didn’t adhere to American audiences.
When he did step up in New York, he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. He did win the belts back six months later, but the circumstances that led to the fight are under a cloud.
With his career winding down and fewer avenues to take, AJ would be well advised to fight Usyk and show the strength Klitschko speaks of today. Even considering a step aside looks bad on Joshua and his team.
The 2012 Olympic champion must secure the second fight and attempt to win his titles back. If he doesn’t, his already diminishing status will come to the point of no return.
As for Fury, it looks likely he’ll be fighting Dillian Whyte in a fight that will only sell in the UK. An announcement could come as soon as Friday.
The views expressed in this article are opinions of Phil Jay.
Phil Jay – Editor of World Boxing News since 2010 with over one billion views. Follow WBN on Twitter @WorldBoxingNews.