EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Nelson fires back at ‘paranoid’ Eddie Hearn after being labelled a ‘company man’ by the Matchroom boss… as he picks Anthony Joshua to beat Oleksandr Usyk this weekend despite stating another defeat could see him retire
- Johnny Nelson has responded to Eddie Hearn’s claims that he’s a ‘company man’
- Hearn took issue with the pundit after he suggested Anthony Joshua may retire
- Joshua fights unified champion Oleksandr Usyk in Saturday’s enticing rematch
- Nelson believes Joshua could hang up if gloves if he suffers another defeat
Former world champion Johnny Nelson has fired back at Eddie Hearn after being described as a ‘company man’ by the Matchroom boss.
Both Nelson and Hearn are in Saudi Arabia ahead of Saturday’s all-important rematch between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, following the Ukrainian’s stunning win over the Briton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September.
The pair worked closely before Hearn and Matchroom signed with DAZN, with the impending bout set to be Joshua’s final outing televised on Sky Sports.
Johnny Nelson (right) has fired back at Eddie Hearn (left) after the Matchroom boss described him as a ‘company man’
Nelson believes Anthony Joshua (right) may retire if he doesn’t beat Oleksandr Usyk (left) on August 20
Hearn on Monday took issue with Nelson after the former cruiserweight insisted Joshua may opt to retire should he fall to a second defeat to Usyk, insisting the rhetoric would be different had the heavyweight not chosen to leave Sky.
‘Listen, I’ve been there,’ Hearn told iFL TV. ‘You’ve got company men, so it’s whatever suits you. A couple of months ago, when AJ was signing with Sky, this guy was the greatest heavyweight on the planet, he could beat Tyson Fury, he’s going to take it to Oleksandr Usyk.
‘Now, it’s like, let’s take pictures of Usyk with hearts everywhere. If AJ loses, all of a sudden he’s pledged his long-term future to DAZN… it’s not that they want him to lose, but, of course, this is business. This is the game we’re in.’
Nelson has now refuted those claims, however, insisting Hearn is thinking commercially, while he is thinking from a boxer’s mindset.
‘Eddie’s using his commercial heart,’ Nelson told Sportsmail. ‘Of course it would suit him for Joshua to carry on boxing whether he wins or loses, I get that.
Nelson believes Joshua could retire if he suffers a second successive defeat to the Ukrainian
Hearn has previously insisted Joshua will continue fighting regardless of Saturday’s result
‘But I’m an ex-fighter; I know what their mentality is. You’ve been world champion and now you know there’s people out there who have beaten you, someone who’s proven that twice.
‘Your motivation to get up every morning and train like crazy to be someone who’s just taking part because you know you’re never going to beat the best, it changes.
‘Some fighters can do it: Derek Chisora can do it, Dillian Whyte can do it, but I don’t think Anthony Joshua is a fighter that can.
‘That’s just my opinion, and I might be wrong. I’m not saying he should retire; I’m just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.’
The highly-anticipated match-up is undeniably the most important of Joshua’s career to date, as the 32-year-old looks to become a three-time unified heavyweight champion, with a potential undisputed clash against Tyson Fury to follow.
It is also crucial for Hearn and Matchroom, after announcing Joshua’s long-term, big-money deal with DAZN only in June.
Nelson believes Hearn is feeling the fight-week tension, but states the criticism he has faced is unjust.
Nelson believes Hearn is feeling the fight-week nerves ahead of the all-important clash
‘Eddie’s taken it out of context, but I understand it’s a sensitive week, his nerves are on edge and I get it,’ Nelson said. ‘But I do think he’s being a little paranoid thinking people are trying to pull a rug from underneath him.
‘I’m a fan of AJ, I’m just not going to say what he [Eddie] wants me to say.’
‘Not at all [there’s no agenda],’ he continued. ‘But that’s the line he’s taken, which, to me, I think is unfair.’
Nelson also believes it will be Joshua who emerges victorious this time, stating: ‘The fight doesn’t go the distance, and I’m going to back the Brit and go with Anthony Joshua with a stoppage win.’
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