The options might be different for Anthony Joshua if he comes up short against Oleksandr Usyk for the second time on Saturday, but promoter Eddie Hearn does not see a scenario where he believes Joshua should retire.
Joshua is 32, young in heavyweight terms, but some have suggested that he might not be too keen to carry on if another defeat led to smaller purses than he has become used to. Hearn does not believe that, though.
“If you are physically 100 percent, which he is, and you love the sport and feel motivated and you are in your prime, which he is, why would you retire?” Hearn said. “But that’s the pressure he faces from his position in boxing.
“If he wins, he is the biggest star in boxing by a country mile, if he loses, he will come back, rebuild and go through the division again.
“There is so much on the line, I am not even really thinking about both scenarios.
“The pay days and nights like this aren’t there if you are fighting someone like Manuel Charr, but he can still fill any arena or stadium in the country.
“He loves fighting. He loves going up to Loughborough every Monday and staying on campus. When the hunger goes, when he doesn’t enjoy it anymore, that’s when he has got to pack it in. But he is so far away from that.”
Hearn has seen how Joshua has raised the stakes for himself this time, having been accused of being a bit too relaxed when he lost to Usyk last September.
“He’s putting a lot more pressure on himself,” Hearn said. “Sometimes the talk is ‘I trained hard’, now it is ‘I have to win this fight’.
“I like that because the performance he needs requires a little bit of desperation at times and a lot of ferocity. He is nervous, but he is not nervous because of the fight or Usyk, he is nervous about not winning and how that will make him feel. He has got to be desperate to win.
“By the sixth round, this fight either has to be over, or Usyk has to be in tatters. You cannot let Usyk get into his rhythm. Last time it was a case of before you know it, it was round six or seven and the next moment you are back in the changing room.”
And Hearn believes the experience of the first fight will help Joshua this time.
“The other good thing is that he has done 12 rounds already with Usyk,” Hearn said. “I have seen it before with guys like Tony Bellew. They overthink how good he is and after six or seven rounds Bellew couldn’t stand up because he was concentrating so much.
“That was why after the final bell last time, AJ said ‘I’ll beat him next time’.”
A return to Saudi Arabia will never be without controversy, but the local promoters took more control this time and Hearn believes that it has felt like a more normal promotion this time and he believes Saudi Arabia feels more relaxed.
“Last time they built a stadium, they were up against it timewise and everyone learnt a lot from that,” Hearn said. “I know this is in Jeddah and that was Riyadh, but this feels completely different to three years ago. There are changes taking place. It has been going great.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.