ANTHONY JOSHUA has been urged to gamble his career in a fight with Deontay Wilder.
The former two-time heavyweight champion is on the fringes of world title contention following a second successive defeat by Oleksandr Usyk last August.
AJ's career rebuild will kick off against a top-15 heavyweight in April, with a domestic dust-up with Dillian Whyte expected to take place in the summer.
But British boxing legend Ricky Hatton reckons he should roll the dice with a high-risk, high-reward fight against former WBC king Wilder sooner rather than later.
The Hitman told Mega Casino: “I'd have a little bit of a rebuilding fight to get his confidence, and no one should complain about it.
“He's lost his last two fights against Usyk, which is no shame whatsoever.
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"Another factor is how hard he took the defeat where we grabbed the mic, and he took the belts out the ring and everything like that.
“So, obviously it affected him hard. So, don't chuck him in at the deep end again.
"Give him someone a bit of a token, you know what I mean?
"And then go in for the Wilder fight.”
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Bronze Bomber Wilder returned to the win column in October with a brutal stoppage of Robert Helenius – his first outing since back-to-back stoppage defeats by Tyson Fury.
And the American knockout artist's coach Malik Scott wants the rivals – who were on course to throw down in 2018 – to settle their feud once and for all.
He told iFL TV: “You have Deontay and Andy Ruiz mandated for the WBC, but then you have people raving for Anthony Joshua and Deontay to fight, and that actual fight is bigger than the WBC mandation.
"We’ll just see.
“I want Deontay to fight AJ – I think that’s the biggest fight in the history of the heavyweight division.
“I want to see them in the ring with each other, because I don’t believe it will go more than three rounds.”
Defeat in his comeback fight will put the final nail in the coffin of Joshua's glittering career.
Promoter Eddie Hearn admitted: "You go into that fight in April and you know that defeat, it’s all over, really.
"It would be a third back-to-back defeat and yet a great performance and a showroom knockout will get everyone saying, ‘We’re back, baby.’
"That’s what I can’t wait for because I love it when our backs are against the wall.
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“I’m excited. I’m really excited.
"This is the most excited I’ve been in Joshua's journey so far."
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