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Anthony Joshua hasn't won for TWO YEARS with 2023 now make-or-break

Anthony Joshua, despite his back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, remains one of Britain’s most prevalent sport stars. Adverts, posters, GQ interviews, the 6ft 6in colossus – whose partnerships include Under Armour, Hugo Boss, Beats and Lucozade – is difficult to miss. 

But remarkably, it’s now been over two years since he last won a fight. Indeed, it’s an unfortunate statistic we all know – Joshua last claimed victory against Kubrat Pulev in December 2020 – but it’s one that still remains difficult to comprehend. Has it really been that long?

Unfortunately, particularly for those longing for a Joshua-Tyson Fury undisputed showdown, it has. To put it in context, Joshua’s last taste of victory came only four days after the UK administered its first Covid vaccine, a feat that feels a lifetime ago. 

Anthony Joshua faces a career-defining 2023 ahead after suffering a disastrous two years

Anthony Joshua faces a career-defining 2023 ahead after suffering a disastrous two years

The former champion last won against Kubrat Pulev all the way back in December 2020

The former champion last won against Kubrat Pulev all the way back in December 2020

The former champion last won against Kubrat Pulev all the way back in December 2020

Since then, he has lost to Usyk, sacked his coach, gone on a US tour to find a new one, hired a new one, lost again to Usyk, entered negotiations to fight Fury, ended negotiations to fight Fury, sacked his coach, and embarked on another US tour to find a new one. 

And in the midst of this, his respectful, humble image slightly cracked after his second defeat to Usyk, when he threw the Ukrainian’s belts out the ring, before storming off and then returning to deliver a highly emotional speech.

Just 24 months after Joshua put in perhaps a career-best performance against Pulev, adding some spite back to his newfound boxer-mover style, Joshua now looks more lost than ever. No belts, no coach (that we know of), and no concrete opponent in place. 

Even his multi-year, mega-money deal with DAZN announced this summer – in which Joshua was supposed to fight twice a year – hasn’t quite come to fruition, with the 33-year-old, for a second year running, getting out only once. 

But while it all sounds a bit doom and gloom, that’s not what this piece is. This is, rather, a look forward to what could be, and what has to be, the most important year of Joshua’s career. 

Joshua has fallen to back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk since he last won a fight

Joshua has fallen to back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk since he last won a fight

Joshua has fallen to back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk since he last won a fight

A furious Joshua threw Usyk's heavyweight belts out of the ring after his rematch defeat

A furious Joshua threw Usyk's heavyweight belts out of the ring after his rematch defeat

A furious Joshua threw Usyk’s heavyweight belts out of the ring after his rematch defeat

Joshua was visibly distraught at the post-fight press conference, as he was consoled by promoter Eddie Hearn (left)

Joshua was visibly distraught at the post-fight press conference, as he was consoled by promoter Eddie Hearn (left)

Joshua was visibly distraught at the post-fight press conference, as he was consoled by promoter Eddie Hearn (left)

One thing to immediately highlight is that Joshua is not ‘washed’ or ‘finished’ or ‘broken’ – or any of the other slights the twice unified heavyweight world champion has received in recent months. 

In fact, the Olympic gold medalist, who has risen the profile of British boxing tenfold sine turning pro in 2013, put in one of his best performances in his rematch defeat to Usyk. 

And in any case, losing via split-decision to a once-in-a-generation talent – despite many believing the result was kind to Joshua – is not a career-ending defeat. Joshua at his best remains a threat to anyone in the division. Well, perhaps anyone but Usyk. 

Joshua can forget about the top-dogs in the division for now, though. Instead, at the top of his Christmas wish-list should be finding a coach – having left both Rob McCracken and more recently Robert Garcia – and finding an opponent for early 2023. 

In terms of a coach, Joshua is once again reviewing his options. Before siding with Garcia, he also briefly worked with Eddy Reynoso, Virgil Hunter and Ronnie Shields. And more recently, he’s gone back to Hunter, while also trying out Derrick James. Roy Jones Jr has also claimed Joshua will spend some time with him. 

Joshua has now split with coach Robert Garcia (centre) who he appointed ahead of the Usyk rematch

Joshua has now split with coach Robert Garcia (centre) who he appointed ahead of the Usyk rematch

Joshua has now split with coach Robert Garcia (centre) who he appointed ahead of the Usyk rematch

Joshua has also said he now wants to be a ‘free spirit’, insisting he’s in a position where he can ‘work with anyone’. But having recently admitted he’s coming to the end of his career, now is arguably not the time to start experimenting. 

Joshua has always been surrounded by multiple voices, with Angel Fernandez being a major influence alongside both McCracken and Garcia. He was even seen asking Clifton Mitchell – a former heavyweight champion but on the night his head of security – for advice moments before his first loss to Usyk. 

Joshua later admitted he wasn’t sure what the game plan was, while promoter Eddie Hearn insisted ‘there was too much information and too many points of view’. 

It takes time for a fighter to build a relationship with a new coach, and Joshua took a risk in leaving McCracken for Garcia ahead of his all-important Usyk rematch. It didn’t entirely backfire, with is performance improved, but it didn’t come off either. 

And by the time Joshua is back in a position to fight Usyk or Fury, if he does get there, he needs to be settled. 

Joshua has been working with Errol Spence Jr's coach Derrick James

Joshua has been working with Errol Spence Jr's coach Derrick James

He has also spent time with Virgil Hunter, as he did last year

He has also spent time with Virgil Hunter, as he did last year

Joshua has recently spent time working with Derrick James (left) and Virgil Hunter (right) 

Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr has also revealed he intends to work with the former champion

Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr has also revealed he intends to work with the former champion

Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr has also revealed he intends to work with the former champion 

Who Joshua fights in the coming months is therefore just as important as who he appoints as his new coach. There has been talk of Deontay Wilder, but that’s far too big a risk. As Barry Hearn recently said, ‘he can’t afford another loss’. 

Although no opponent is confirmed, Eddie Hearn has revealed Joshua will be out next spring at the O2 Arena. He also assured it will be against a legitimate opponent. 

‘I don’t want to give you too many names, because people get excited, disappointed, moan,’ he told iFL TV. ‘Just wait and see. It will be a top 15 guy and he’ll be ready to show the world he’s coming for the heavyweight title again.’

Joshua’s now former coach Garcia has also provided an indication, telling ES NEWS: ‘When he comes back, I know they’re going to pick him two or three easy fights.’ 

Among the possibilities are Dillian Whyte, Otto Wallin, Zhang Zhilei and Filip Hrgovic – all match-ups Joshua would be expected to win. All match-ups which would probably spell the end if he lost. And all match-ups which would probably be good for Joshua. 

It is highly unlikely Joshua would go straight into a fight against Deontay Wilder (left)

It is highly unlikely Joshua would go straight into a fight against Deontay Wilder (left)

It is highly unlikely Joshua would go straight into a fight against Deontay Wilder (left)

A rematch against long-term rival Dillian Whyte is a more likely scenario in early to mid 2023

A rematch against long-term rival Dillian Whyte is a more likely scenario in early to mid 2023

A rematch against long-term rival Dillian Whyte is a more likely scenario in early to mid 2023

Simply put, after two years without one, Joshua needs a win. Without his titles, without the immense amount of pressure on his shoulders, and without that undisputed bout being forever just one fight away, Joshua might just rediscover his mojo. 

And if he does, a massive 2023 could lie ahead. Whether that’s a warm up fight, then Whyte and then possibly Wilder, or even two warm-ups and Whyte, remaining unbeaten over the next year would put him right in the mix for 2024. 

Barry Hearn believes Joshua could fight Fury by the end of 2023, but that’s unlikely at best. Fury and Usyk will likely fight twice – if their undisputed bout can be made – and the WBA, WBO and IBF are already getting tetchy regarding their mandatories. 

The belts shouldn’t be the focus for Joshua regardless. Rather, building a relationship with a new coach, regaining that winning feeling and building some momentum ahead of 2024 should be. 

But if it doesn’t go Joshua’s way, and if the 33-year-old is to lose another bout on his road to redemption, 2023 could well be even more devastating than 2021 and 2022 for the once heavyweight king. 

In a period of such uncertainty for a coach-less, beltless Joshua, one thing is certain: 2023 is now the most important year of his career. 

Denise T. Jones

Denise T. Jones is a passionate sports enthusiast with a knack for capturing the electrifying essence of the sporting world. As a dedicated sports news writer for AccessTV.co, Denise brings her unparalleled love for sports and her adept storytelling skills to deliver captivating and insightful content to readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of various sports disciplines, Denise ensures that her articles provide comprehensive coverage of the latest events, matches, and developments in the sports realm. Whether it's the thrill of the game-winning goal, the drama of a nail-biting finish, or the heartwarming stories of triumph against all odds, Denise encapsulates it all with eloquence and precision. Denise's journey in sports journalism has been marked by her unwavering commitment to accuracy, integrity, and excellence. Her ability to blend statistical analysis with compelling narratives sets her apart as a trusted voice in the industry. From the adrenaline-pumping action on the field to the strategic maneuvers off it, Denise brings every aspect of the sporting world to life through her writing. With a finger on the pulse of the sports scene, Denise T. Jones continues to inspire and inform readers with her dynamic and engaging sports coverage on AccessTV.co.

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