Boxing pundit Johnny Nelson speaks to bet365 and reveals why victory for AJ this weekend should silence any doubters.
Johnny Nelson hopes Anthony Joshua will finally get the respect he deserves if he prevails in his hotly-anticipated heavyweight rematch with unified champion Oleksandr Usyk this weekend.
Joshua is in the Middle East fine-tuning his preparations for the most pivotal fight of his career, as he looks to recapture the WBA, WBA and IBF straps he lost to the Ukrainian in London last September.
Victory for the British fighter would etch his name in boxing history, alongside greats such as Muhammed Ali and Lennox Lewis, in claiming world heavyweight honours for a third time.
“It is a fight that he can win, a fight where he can make himself a three time heavyweight champion of the world!” Nelson told bet365 out in Jeddah.
“It’s a fight, I believe, he needs because after all of the world title fights he has had, people are still questioning him.
“But, for him to now go out and beat Oleksandr Usyk and become world heavyweight champion for a third time, then you can’t be a knocker or a hater.
“AJ has got a lot to prove to himself. He has made some massive changes in regards to his team, and doing that comes at a price, so I am sure it is calculated – the changes have been made for a reason.
“It’s a good fight, a tough fight – but this is not an impossible ask for Anthony Joshua.”
Defeat in Saudi Arabia would likely have devastating consequences for Joshua’s title aspirations, and Nelson isn’t sure as to whether the Watford-born star would be willing to stick around knowing he isn’t top dog.
“AJ is no back-up dancer – it is in his DNA, he has to be the best! Is he happy to just box in the peripherals? I don’t think so,” he added.
“What he decides to do, if he loses, that is his shout – but I just don’t think it is in his DNA to be that guy that stays in the division, knowing he can’t be the best.
“There would still be some big fights out there for him, but I just don’t know. I’d be very curious to see.”