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Anthony Joshua gives retirement advice to Deontay Wilder after Zhilei Zhang defeat

Anthony Joshua has urged Deontay Wilder not to rush into retirement from boxing after his TKO defeat to Zhilei Zhang on Saturday evening.

Wilder now has four losses in his last five fights after he was beaten in the fifth round by Zhang in Saudi Arabia.

The 38-year-old, who suggested in the build-up to the fight that a defeat to Zhang could mark the end of his professional career, was knocked to the canvas with two solid right hands from the Chinese heavyweight and while he beat the count, the fight was waved off by referee Kieran McCann.

Wilder’s long-term future in the sport looks unclear following defeats to Joseph Parker last December and now Zhang on Saudi Arabia’s latest blockbuster card.

But Joshua suggests Wilder should not be too hasty in his decision to quit boxing.

‘It’s completely up to him, I can’t say,’ Joshua told DAZN when asked if Wilder should retire.

Deontay Wilder was sent sprawling to the canvas by Zhilei Zhang in the fifth round (Getty)

‘I just look at and say, ‘if you want to do it, do it’, it’s not a big deal boxing, if you want to fight, fight on, and if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it any more, it’s just where your heart’s at.

‘He went in there against a good fighter in Zhilei, he’s an Olympian, Zhilei, people forget that, he’s come through, he’s got a great style, I fought him before in the Olympics and he’s still doing what he does now, so many years on. He was in with a real good, seasoned professional with a great pedigree.

‘It doesn’t matter, come again if you want, and if you don’t, you’ve got your family there, there’s another life outside of boxing for him.’

Asked if he was disappointed to see the manner of Wilder’s knockout defeat, Joshua replied: ‘Nah, it is what it is.’

Anthony Joshua was sat ringside to watch Zhilei Zhang beat Deontay Wilder (Reuters)

Joshua also added: ‘I enjoy fighting in London, I enjoy fighting out here [in Saudi Arabia], I enjoy fighting in America.

‘It’s a blessing, it ain’t going to last forever, so that’s what I always say with Wilder, enjoy these moments, unfortunately it don’t last forever so if he wants to do it again, give it a another crack because sooner or later father time catches up with you.’

Speaking on his future fight, Joshua said: ‘I’m going to speak to the team, I’m down for whatever, I was actually hoping to get on this card here.

‘I don’t overthink the boxing thing, get out, get active while I’m still young, keep firing away. Unfortunately I didn’t get this opportunity but they’re talking about September 21 so in the back of my mind I’m getting ready.’

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