Anthony Joshua urged to avoid Eddie Hearn option - "That is too big a step"

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Anthony Joshua hasn
Anthony Joshua hasn't fought since losing to Oleksandr Usyk in August (Image: Getty Images)

Anthony Joshua won’t be short of opponents as he contemplates becoming a world champion for the third time. If he is to achieve that lofty goal they have to be the right ones in the right order.

One opponent I would avoid is Deontay Wilder. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn gave Wilder a mention this week but he is nobody’s fool. That is too big a step to take at this stage. Rather than take on a big target, Joshua needs to fight more frequently in 2023 and against lesser gods.

The most immediate issue is finding the right trainer. Whoever that is he needs to go back to basics and build him back psychologically.

Joshua has to get better at coming forward, at being aggressive. He nailed Ruiz with a great left hook in the first fight and jumped in to finish him. But Ruiz has an unbelievable chin and recovered within seconds then took him out.

Joshua must learn how to put punches together whilst moving his head. That needs to be ingrained. I’m not sure he has ever learned that skill.

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It takes time to develop that but it can be taught. He has to be prepared to listen and his trainer must have the ability to teach with authority. There are not many around who command that respect.

There is no doubt there is question mark over Joshua’s chin. He was close to being stopped at end of the first fight with Oleksandr Usyk. In the first fight against Ruiz, he was stopped when out on his feet.

Anthony Joshua urged to avoid Eddie Hearn option - "That is too big a step"Anthony Joshua lost his world titles to Andy Ruiz and then Oleksandr Usyk (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

It makes sense to build him back slowly. Joshua has earned the space to breathe. The three time champion narrative emulating Muhammad Ali is a nice idea and achievable, but it is a question of appetite and how much Joshua wants it.

Only he can answer that. If he has the appetite to learn and to improve there is plenty of legs left in him. He is a great athlete with a big heart and power in both hands.

I would say he needs three fights to develop the attacking skills required. A good camp, fight, week off then straight back at it. The second camp can be shorter and the third shorter again as long as he stays active. There is no pressure at this stage after three defeats.

Confidence comes from being busy and winning. I would be looking at the likes of Otto Wallin or Tony Yoka then maybe move on to rematch with Joseph Parker. They would be solid tests, providing the platform he needs to reach for the stars one more time, or not as the case may be.

  • Follow Barry on Twitter at @ClonesCyclone @McGuigans_Gym

Barry McGuigan

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