British sports promoter Eddie Hearn has said that Anthony Joshua will keep on fighting in the ring despite his second consecutive loss to Oleksandr Usyk with a return expected in December.
Despite doing better against Usyk than his showing last September in London, Joshua ultimately succumbed to a split decision defeat against the champion on Saturday night at the packed King Abdullah Sports Arena in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Ahead of the fight, a number of boxing pundits and professionals, including former WBO cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson, had suggested Joshua could retire from the sport if he lost again.
But the 32-year-old and his promoter Hearn insisted after the fight that an early retirement wasn’t a possibility.
An emotional Joshua, following the second defeat to Usyk, initially wanted a comeback fight earlier but Hearn advised December.
“I spoke to Eddie and asked him if it’s possible to get out in November because momentum is important in boxing. Eddie said December,” Joshua said.
“If it’s about who I fight, it’s come one, come all. Whoever wants it can get it, I don’t mind.”
Speaking to talkSPORT on Sunday, Hearn said there were plenty of great fights still to come for Joshua.
“People talked in the build-up about him retiring,” Hearn said.
“When you lose a split decision to the pound-for-pound number one, why would you contemplate retirement?
“It’s about passion. It’s about if you still want it. You could see how much he wanted it by his post-fight interview.”
Hearn then suggested former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and long-time rival Dillian Whyte were two likely opponents.
“I’d like to see him back out. Maybe even in late December,” Hearn added.
“There’s massive fights for him. Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder.
“There’s so many fights for him in the top (10). There’s even some Brits for him that are coming through in a couple of fights as well.
“We’ve just got to see what he wants to do. It’s going to be a tough, tough defeat to take but he’ll be back.”
It seems unlikely Joshua and Wilder will fight this year as the latter is already booked to face Robert Helenius on Saturday, October 15, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City.
However, a fight with Whyte could easily be arranged since they share the same promoter with both coming off losses and not currently linked to any other opponents.