If you’ve ever suffered crushing disappointment in your life then you will know, to some degree or other, how Anthony Joshua felt after the final bell went during his match with Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk. In many ways, the time after a fight concludes must be the worst in a boxer’s career when they know they’ve been beaten, given that they have to stand around the ring in full view of the watching world as the judges decide to what extent. It’s during these moments that there’s nowhere to hide as feelings of disappointment, dejection, and perhaps even embarrassment flood one’s thoughts.
For Joshua, it’s hard to know what he was thinking as the ringside judges totted up their scorecards. Was he mulling over the fact that he had just thrown away a $100 million payday against Tyson Fury? Was he wracked with regret as he looked over at Usyk who was now in pole position to claim such an eye-watering fee? Granted, Fury also has, if you will, a semi-final matchup that he needs to win before this can happen, but with the Fury vs Wilder odds showing the Englishman at just 1/3 odds to win, it does seem a mere formality that Fury and Usyk will share a huge purse sometime in 2022. Perhaps though, Joshua wasn’t thinking about any of that money at all.
After all, the 31-year-old is an extremely wealthy man and could walk away from the sport today and live a life that few would imagine possible. No, Joshua was in all likelihood thinking that his legacy in the sport is now damaged beyond repair given that the loss to Usyk was the second of his career.
Keep positive even if the world’s crumbling in front of you! London I love you & thank you each and every time! pic.twitter.com/GBgF7e5hcm
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) September 25, 2021
The fact of that matter is that Joshua shouldn’t think this way, nor should anyone else. Indeed, whilst recording a loss on a record is far from ideal when it comes to making a case for being the best to have ever lived, it’s not fatal. In fact, ask anyone who they think the greatest of all time was and in most instances, you’ll be told it was Muhammad Ali.
Unsurprisingly, few will refer to the fact that Ali was actually beaten five times during these exchanges. On the off chance that someone makes a case for Mike Tyson being the greatest, it’s worth reminding them that Iron Mike lost no fewer than six times. You probably get where this is going by now, but the bottom line is that you can still get beaten – a few times over – and be regarded as a great.
So, what does Joshua have to do to change the narrative and correct this tailspin he’s in? The short answer is to come out fighting. By now it seems apparent that Joshua isn’t going to outbox or outsmart the better heavyweights in the division and instead, he needs to go back to relying on his destructive power. Indeed, both of Joshua’s losses came when he tried to adopt a style that restricted his knockout-out ability. Keep in mind that out of Joshua’s 24 professional wins, 22 have come by way of knockout.
What does this tell us? In essence, it reveals that Joshua is at his most dangerous when he’s on the front foot and looking to impose himself on his opponent. Indeed, throwing devastating haymakers and raining down hellfire on his adversaries is what has made AJ the fearsome competitor he is.
Should the 31-year-old return to this style that has brought him so much success then he will surely make his way back to the summit of the division.