Boxing royalty ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard has questioned Anthony Joshua’s beliefs and says the British superstar must seek out the toughest challenges available if he wants to be regarded as one of the heavyweight greats.
The American, who defeated Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Wilfred Benitez en route to compiling a 36-3-1 (25) boxing record, won world titles in every weight class from welterweight through to light heavyweight during his illustrious 20-year pro career.
Leonard insists that the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion must fight abroad if he really wants to establish his legacy.
“It all boils down to what Anthony Joshua wants and what he believes in,” said Leonard in an interview with The Sun. “You have to ask him the question: what do you want to be? How do you want people to remember you?
“Do you want to just be remembered here or global? I’m sure it’s global.
“In America they know the name Anthony Joshua but they have not all seen him.
“There are a lot of boxing fans, millions of boxing fans, but they have not all seen what he is about yet.”
Earlier this year Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn engaged in very public negotiations with American WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, with the proposed fight falling apart amidst recriminations from both sides.
It’s a fight that Leonard likens to his own career-defining clash with undisputed middleweight king ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler in 1987.
“Look, if he never faces Wilder it wouldn’t be a total black mark but… it’s like me,” Leonard said. “The reason I came back was because I wanted to fight the best in Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
“For me, being a fighter, I was just driven by that desire to fight the best. Hagler was the last one I wanted to go up against so I made sure it happened.
“It’s kind of a stamp of approval; people remember how you fared against the power. Did you take it? Wilder is a serious puncher and that would be a fight that fans would love to see.
“We just don’t know who wins – 1,000 people said Sugar Ray would win, then 1,000 people said Hagler was going to win.”
The 1976 Olympic gold medallist defeated the long-reigning middleweight champion by controversial split decision after 12 hotly-contested rounds at the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 1987.
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