Anthony Joshua has saved his boxing legacy but Tyson Fury tables have already turned

This was always going to be a huge month for Anthony Joshua.

He had a big decision to make – a decision that would define his boxing legacy.

Joshua had two options: Either become £15 million richer to do absolutely nothing, or he could avenge his disappointing loss to Oleksandr Uysk.

Business-wise? The decision is obvious. You take the money.

In doing that, you bypass an opponent that looks to be a tough match-up, potentially avoiding another loss to the same opponent whilst becoming very, very rich.

But that decision would have been the wrong one.

Sure, if all Joshua cares about is financially setting himself and his family up for generations – do it. More power to him. He’s earned the right to make that decision, overcoming obstacles in his life to get to where he is.

But I don’t, for one second, think that Joshua is in this for the money.

He’s a guy who truly cares about his boxing legacy – I’d hope that he’s commended for that.

AJ has always spoken about wanting to unify the heavyweight title belts and become the undisputed heavyweight champion. He’s always aimed for the top.

For him to step aside to let two other men attempt to do that? Formoney?

Yeah, that’s where you lose credibility, and fans.

But that’s something Joshua has been dealing with over the last few years.

The tables have well and truly turned when it comes to Tyson Fury and Joshua.

Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk are set to face each other in a rematch in 2022
Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk are set to face each other in a rematch in 2022

A couple years ago, Fury was caught up in a bunch of scandals, made controversial comments and weighed up to 400lbs – seemingly finished in the sport.

Meanwhile, Joshua was cruising – knocking out Dillian Whyte and Wladimir Klitschko and winning world titles.

He was on top of the world when it came to the heavyweight scene.

Just a couple years later, that has all changed.

After two Joshua defeats, and Fury’s trilogy with Wilder, it’s the Gyspy King on top, while Joshua attempts to avenge losses in the hope of one day fighting Fury.

But it’s not just the boxing scene which has changed, but public opinion, too.

Fury is now universally beloved. The amount of times I have seen the words ‘how can you not love Tyson Fury?’.

Why do we think that is?

Fury is real. He’s honest. He’s open.

He goes on the Joe Rogan Podcast and talks about how nearly drove is Ferrari off a bridge because of his battle with mental health.

He talks about the real-life struggles of living with anxiety and depression.

There’s only one Tyson Fury in that he’s authentically himself.

I don’t think people feel that way about AJ.

Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua
We all hope to see these two in the ring one day

What I will say, is he comes across a genuinely decent human being.

He’s always out and about in the community – aiding charities and speaking up on social issues.

He feels like the kind of guy who you’d want your daughter to date.

But at times, it also feels robotic.

I have watched every Anthony Joshua fight, listened to hundreds of interviews, and read thousands of articles on him for nearly 10 years now – because it’s my job, not because I’m obsessed…

And after all that, I’m still not sure that I know the real Anthony Joshua.

Listen, that’s may be the way he likes it. And that’s fine.

Whilst I appreciate the man that he is, the things that he has done, the people he has helped a long the way, I always feel like I want to know more about who he is – what are his true colours.

Fans usually don’t just support you because of how good you are at a sport, they support you the human being. They want to know about you, how you truly feel about certain situations, what your true character is.

In interviews, Joshua is very calculated. He thinks about what he’s going to say, and then he doesn’t say too much revealing at all.

People don’t want that. They want real. Just be authentically Anthony Joshua.

Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua

There’s only been a few times that I recall where we’ve seen this – him being stripped back and showing you his raw side.

Go back and watch his face-off with Dominic Breazeale in 2016. How he calmly and composedly looks at the American unfazed and tells him ‘you’re not about that life’.

His post-fight interview after defeating Kubrat Pulev felt like a moment he let things off his chest, which was refreshing to see.

I also enjoyed when he told people who called him racist to ‘f*** off’ – a claim which is, obviously, idiotic to suggest he’s racist.

But a lot of the time, I feel like he’s trying to be perfect – which he has been billed to be ever since he won Olympic gold in 2012.

Who wants perfect?

Like the rapper J Cole said, there’s beauty in the struggle and ugliness in success.

When you lose to Oleksandr Usyk, don’t go up and give us nothing in the post-fight interview – let’s hear what really went wrong.

Why did you really lose? What do you need to change? Admit that you need to be better.

AJ in his post fight interview following his loss to Usyk
AJ in his post fight interview following his loss to Usyk

In all that has been said above, there’s no shame in Joshua’s approach.

In all honesty, it’s the smart business move.

His approach has been made him extremely marketable and likeable – which I’m sure has made him a ton of money.

But right now, his career is at a crossroads.

As they used to say in 80’s cartoons, it’s time for AJ to have that ‘no more mister nice guy’ mentality.

Be ruthless in the ring. Go out there, dominate Oleksandr Usyk like he’s fully capable of doing.

Bulk up, lean on him and be relentless with those heavy hands.

Then grab the microphone and talk your talk. Call out whoever, claim you’re the best – like he did after his victory over Pulev.

That’s the real Joshua, that who people fell in love with supporting. That’s why he can sell out 80,000 seat arena’s.

Anthony Joshua arrives for his Oleksandr Usyk fight
Anthony Joshua arrives for his Oleksandr Usyk fight

Joshua now has a pathway to regaining the spotlight as the best heavyweight on the planet.

Stepping aside for Fury to Usyk would have been a weak move, and I’m glad to see that he rejected it.

It’s why people like me root for him. Like I said earlier, he’s not doing this for the money, but to become the best.

I truly hope he’s able to do that, fulfill his insane boxing potential, and doing so whilst being himself – Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua from Watford.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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