ANTHONY JOSHUA will not be staring at retirement if he loses again to Oleksandr Usyk.
The British heavyweight was beaten over 12 rounds last September, but rematches Usyk on August 20 in Saudi Arabia.
A win for AJ catapults him back as a three-belt unified champion and primed for an undisputed decider against Tyson Fury, 33.
Although defeat to pound-for-pound star Usyk, 35, in the red-hot Saudi heat could leave Joshua, 32, out cold in the heavyweight picture.
But promoter Eddie Hearn is adamant even in the worst case scenario, it will not spell the end of the road for AJ.
He told Intu Boxing: "No, I would be shocked. AJ loves fighting; boxing is everything to him.
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"When he lost to Usyk, the amount of people in the industry messaged me, saying, 'I think he should retire now.'
"I said, 'He just lost to the pound-for-pound No 1 or 2. He's not had that many fights.'
"He loves the sport, and I’m sure he’ll be around for a long time, but obviously we’d much rather win."
The reassurance comes after ex-heavyweight champ David Haye, 41, claimed Joshua could RETIRE in defeat to Usyk again.
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Haye said: “If he doesn’t win, I am not sure he wants to be in a sport where he knows he is not the best.
“He got out-hustled by someone he knows he can beat and if – he does everything right and Usyk still beats him – I don’t know if there is anything else for him to do in the sport.
“He is such a winner that I don’t know what he does next, if he loses again.
“He believes he has all the physical abilities to beat Usyk, so do I, so with the right plan he can get the victory.”
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