THE career of Anthony Joshua is “not turning out as expected” and he should not be regarded as the world heavyweight champion until he beats Tyson Fury, Frank Warren has claimed. Fury has been out of the ring since ending Wladimir Klitschko’s long reign in 2015, but the promoter insists that an announcement on his comeback will be made “very, very soon.”
Since defeating Klitschko with a virtuoso performance [below] a lot has happened. Tyson Fury was stripped of his IBF title in the immediate aftermath for agreeing to give Klitschko a return, and lost the WBA and WBO belts when details of depression, failed drug tests and cocaine use hit the headlines in 2016.
“Until anyone beats Fury they cannot rightfully call themselves the world heavyweight champion because he didn’t lose his titles in the ring,” Warren told Boxing News.
Joshua, meanwhile, took the IBF strap from new owner Charles Martin, before adding the WBA title, with a thrilling win over Klitschko in April 2017 and, this past weekend, the WBO championship via 12-round unanimous decision over Joseph Parker.
“I thought it was a dull fight,” Warren said of Joshua’s latest victory, which took him to 21-0 (20). “He showed a lot of vulnerabilities and after a great start, his career is not turning out as expected. Look at what Hughie Fury did to Parker [while losing a controversial decision last year], Parker is not a great fighter.
“The referee [Giuseppe Quartarone] was crap, he kept breaking them up. But Joshua ran out of ideas and it showed that when he gets pushed back, he gets flustered.”
Through it all, Deontay Wilder has remained the WBC boss and efforts to make a Joshua-Wilder fight are ongoing. Warren suspects that Wilder, despite his obvious flaws, would have the beating of Joshua should they meet.
“When Wilder won his title I thought he looked impressive,” remarked Warren about Wilder’s January 2015 victory over Bermane Stiverne. “He had a good engine, good jab but since then he’s looked awful. He’s not composed, but he has the power, no question about it and he will catch Joshua.
“A year or so ago I would have picked Joshua to beat him, but I don’t feel that way now. Is Joshua going to be able to outbox him? I don’t know.
“What we have seen with Joshua in three fights now, against Dillian Whyte, against Klitschko and Carlos Takam last year, is that Joshua can be caught easily. In three fights he’s either been down or wobbled.
“Walking forward, Joshua is terrific, but no work is being done on his defence. Look, give him credit for the Klitschko win, he showed he had heart to get up off the floor but he’s vulnerable and very beatable. That’s what I look for, not just a fighter’s strengths, but their weaknesses and how they can be beaten.”
Warren aimed some criticism at Joshua’s coach, Robert McCracken.
“All McCracken-trained fighters can be hit,” he claimed. “McCracken is getting the cream of the crop, he gets the leading amateurs who are regarded as the best in the country, and then he trains them for the Olympics, what coach could go wrong with that pedigree?
“But his fighters don’t have a great defence. Just look at Carl Froch. He was a great fighter, don’t get me wrong, and he had a great chin but he wasn’t hard to hit.”
Warren did his best to sign Joshua in 2012 after he won Olympic gold and, while he admits that Joshua is “good for boxing” he’s at a point in his career where he should only be seeking the best available opponents, like Wilder and Fury.
“I don’t think he’s going to get any better, and there’s no point holding him back. You can say he’s only had 21 fights but he’s got stacks of experience. He was unlucky not to get the decision in the World Amateur Championships in 2011 [versus Roberto Cammerelle], then he won the Olympic gold, and he’s fought at the top level as professional. He should now be fighting everyone.
“I’d make the Wilder fight next [if I was his promoter].”
Warren went on to say that Joshua should be regarded a long way below previous top heavyweights from the UK.
“Frank Bruno would have beaten Joshua every day, Joe Bugner would probably have beaten him and he’d have absolutely no chance against Lennox Lewis.”
And, of course, Tyson Fury. Warren expects Fury to have “three or four fights” before being in a position to challenge Joshua, or whoever the leader may be, next year.
Boxing News understand that an announcement on Fury’s return will be made in the very near future.