ANTHONY JOSHUA isn’t mentally tough enough to fight Deontay Wilder on his boxing return, according to the Bronze Bomber’s coach.
Wilder, 37, knocked out Robert Helenius, 38, in round one of his October comeback fight which followed after a year out.
But two months earlier, AJ was beaten for the second time on points by Oleksandr Usyk, 35, and subsequently took the rest of the year off.
Promoter Eddie Hearn warned Joshua, 33, is expected to return by April for a comeback fight against a top 15 contender.
That is despite Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel and trainer Malik Scott opening the door for an anticipated super-fight between them.
But Scott expects consecutive losses to ex-cruiserweight Usyk will have a major effect on Joshua’s confidence.
Scott told Kate Abdo: “This is what I do understand. The lack of mental strength might not be there because he lost to a smaller guy.
“To go up against a specimen like Deontay Wilder, you may need to build yourself up to take on that kind of fighter. I get it.
“The advantages and the things I see Deontay doing to whatever AJ shows up, mentally tough, not mentally tough; it’s a three-round fight, in my opinion.
“He can’t get out of the way. Deontay is not a big guy. That is a big guy that punches slowly. It comes fast, and you can’t get out of it.
“If you can’t get out of the way of it, you’re in trouble. And I think AJ is in trouble if he signs the contract.”
Hearn is ready to negotiate for Joshua to finally fight Wilder, but teased an end of year blockbuster after two return fights.
He told DAZN: “We pretty much know his date. We’re down to three or four opponents that we’re talking to.
“Obviously, rumours of his new training team, and there will be a full announcement from Joshua on that.
“The plan now is to rebuild him to become a three-time heavyweight world champion, and the trainer will want to take the appropriate steps to do that.
“It’s all very well being brave, listening to Twitter, going out, and fighting Deontay Wilder [next] and doing this and doing that, but there has to be a plan, a smart plan.
“A smart plan is he wants to return against a top 15 guy in a credible fight and return in the summer against probably Dillian Whyte and then move forward against Wilder or Tyson Fury in a mega-fight in the ultimate 2023.”