Anthony Joshua will not box in December as he battles to rebuild his mental health after back-to-back Oleksandr Usyk losses.
The 33-year-old London 2012 Olympic golden boy was dethroned of his WBA, IBF and WBO world titles by the Ukraine mastermind in September 2021.
And he failed with his August rematch – despite a vastly improved performance – and broke down in the aftermath, throwing a couple of his old belts to the floor and crying in the post-fight press conference.
A decade of carrying such huge expectations on his giant shoulders came pouring out of the father-of-one, after he lost his crowns and any chance of his career-long goal of an undisputed decider,
And despite the Watford icon and promoter Eddie Hearn vowing he would fight in December, the powerhouse pin-up has now confirmed – although he is fighting fit – his head is still not fully recovered.
AJ entered talks with undefeated WBC Gypsy King Tyson Fury about a potential December 3 showdown.
But he pulled out of talks when his commercial and sponsorship partnerships clashed with playing second fiddle on the Fury show, planned for the Cardiff stadium.
And he has now confirmed to broadcasters DAZN, that his family has urged him to take an extended break to let his huge heart and mind recover from the punishing losses.
“You saw after my last fight, I swear it tore me apart,” Joshua bravely admitted. “I had so much riding on it, for me, the British fans, the undisputed fight.
“It just really tore me apart so, from a mental capacity, my close ones are telling me to rest, mentally.
“Physically I am down to ride, I am a warrior, I like this game and I like competing.
“But, from a mental aspect, I think people have really seen it means a lot.”
Bitter nemesis Fury has made a second career out of being a mental health campaigner, after his own breakdown coincided with a 2017 back-dated doping ban.
But Joshua bottled up all of his struggles until his rock-hard facade melted away in the scorching Saudi Arabia desert.
He now faces another rebuilding process and will most likely return to the ring in the Spring of 2023, against a mid-level opponent, to help get him back to winning ways.