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SPORTS UPDATE

Retirement not on the table for Anthony Joshua

Eddie Hearn has claimed that Anthony Joshua will not retire from boxing should he be defeated in his upcoming rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

The pair will meet at the Jeddah Super Dome in Saudi Arabia on August 20 as Joshua, 32, looks to avenge his defeat to the Ukrainian last time out.

Usyk eased past Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September – handing the Watford native only the second defeat of his professional career.

Yet promoter Hearn has insisted that a second-successive defeat for Joshua would not spell the end of his career inside the ring.

Speaking to Intu Boxing, Hearn said: ‘No, I would be shocked. AJ loves fighting; boxing is everything to him.

‘When he lost to Usyk, the amount of people in the industry messaged me, saying, “I think he should retire now.”

‘I said, “He just lost to the pound-for-pound No 1 or 2. He’s not had that many fights.”

‘He loves the sport, and I’m sure he’ll be around for a long time, but obviously we’d much rather win.’

The undefeated Usyk, 35, cruised to a points victory over Joshua in north London, claiming the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles as a result.

Joshua’s only other defeat came to Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019, yet the British heavyweight avenged the shock knockout loss in Saudi Arabia just months later.

However, Joshua is drawing few similarities between the Ruiz rematch and the upcoming clash with Usyk.

He said: ‘With Andy Ruiz, I think people could see things weren’t 100 per cent but you have to be strong and thick-skinned. We took our loss like a man.

‘When I win I keep it moving and I thank everybody you have to be the same in defeat. I knew I could come back again.

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