ANTHONY JOSHUA vowed he won’t retire if he is beaten again by Oleksandr Usyk.
Saturday’s heavyweight rematch will be Joshua’s last on Sky Sports before he switches to rival broadcaster DAZN.
Anthony Joshua is adamant he will not quit boxing if he loses
Oleksandr Usyk has vowed to go for a knockout win in the rematch
Several Sky pundits have suggested he will walk away from boxing if he suffers a second consecutive loss.
But Joshua, 32, hit back: “I’m not thinking about retirement.
“I’ve got one of the biggest fights of my life coming up and, if I was thinking about retiring, it would be a massive doubt in my mind.
“People will always ask questions. But I still want to continue. I love it.
“I’m competing with pound-for-pound fighters. If I was losing to some has-been, then, yes.
“But it’s crazy to talk about retiring when I lost to one of the best fighters in the world. What sort of nonsense is that?
“I respect people’s opinions, but I don’t want to retire.
“This is my 12th consecutive world title fight and, because this is world level, you’re up against world-level quality opponents.
“This is my third Olympic gold medallist, but we are here to entertain.”
Usyk sends message
Usyk has warned Joshua that Saturday night’s opening bell will signal a return to the horrible 12th round he was almost knocked out in last September.
The 35-year-old Ukraine icon arrived at the Jeddah press conference in full Cossack warrior outfit – complete with scalped head, ponytail and handlebar moustache – before belting out a rousing ancient warcry.
And then – in stark contrast to his August media appearance in London, where he vowed the Saudi showdown was a clean slate and new contest – he told Joshua he will race out of the traps, pin the challenger back to the ropes and finish him off.
Usyk, who insists he didn’t even need to look for a KO at the Tottenham stadium 11 months ago – unloaded in the final Spurs stanza before the bell saved the Watford man and he staggered back to his corner.
And he reckons that terrifying moment in time is exactly where the two rivals will return to – almost one year and 3,000 miles later – this weekend.
“Of course I will be better for this fight,” he growled. “We learned each other in the first fight. I learned him and he learned me.
“But I don’t think we will both be new fighters, it’s not a new bout, it’s round 13, 14, 15 onwards, until it ends.
“We have had enough time to study each other and on Saturday night it will be a great night.”
AJ – dressed in a polar opposite outfit of his brand-sponsored sportswear – had to sit a few feet away and listen as his two-fight foe – who was fighting for Ukraine in the war against Russia as recently as March – detailed exactly how important this fight is.
Usyk – who has allegedly been cycling 100kms in the scorching heat, swimming five-hours-a-day and holding his breath underwater for over FOUR MINUTES to the point of passing out – said: “We were born to compete for life, belts, anything.
“He who does not compete does not live.
“All our lives are competitions for anything, for everything, for everyone. That’s why we are competing.”
The pair matched up very differently in the Jeddah press conference
Joshua, whose steely and almost silent resolve has been overshadowed by Usyk’s showmanship and storytelling, had to settle for second place again as his nemesis stole the show.
The London 2012 Olympic champion and Watford hero had to sit agonisingly close to his old WBA, IBF and WBO belts on presentation, just out of his grasp in thick-glass cases.
But the streamline-minded ace insists this must-win duel is about so much more than the gold and leather straps that bloat the sport and keep the greedy sanctioning bodies fat.
He said: “It’s must win but I like the pressure.
“It has been tough and my team has pushed me, now I need to get the job done, using my instincts, I need to win.
“It’s competition, which I love, we set a goal and I will be disciplined enough to win.
“The belts mean something but only at the end of the process, I cannot skip the process.
“I am looking forward to it, I want to compete, I have that competitive spirit.”
Hopefully that’s enough to beat Usyk’s warrior spirit.