Promoter Eddie Hearn has hinted at the “reasons” for Anthony Joshua’s shock defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr – but has vowed never to reveal them.
The Matchroom supremo has promoted AJ for the whole of his professional career – and was by his side as ever when the Watford superstar (23-1) suffered his only professional defeat so far in the summer of 2019. Joshua was blasted to a devastating defeat by late and unheralded opponent Andy Ruiz Jr inside seven rounds at Madison Square Garden.
There were many rumours in the media immediately after the fight – with some reports even suggesting Joshua had suffered a panic attack. But Hearn claims the real reasons have never been made public, and never will.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s nothing to do with sparring or panic attacks but there are reasons that he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. He will never tell you, and he would hate for me to tell you. He doesn’t want excuses like we’ve seen with Deontay Wilder (who blamed his recent defeat by Tyson Fury on the elaborate costume he wore for his ring walk).
“When I look back now, knowing what was wrong, I can look at his face and say: ‘You knew you weren’t 100 percent, didn’t you?’
“But all week he was fine, smiling. At no point did anyone say: ‘He doesn’t seem himself’. Looking back now there is something in his eyes that says: ‘I’m not best prepared’.”
Joshua of course recovered quickly from that devastating defeat to avenge the loss by Ruiz in their rematch in Saudi Arabia last December – changing style to box masterfully from the outside in a comfortable points victory.
And now he is lined up for a mandatory defence of his IBF, WBA and WBO title belts against Kubrat Pulev later this year, with a potential unification double-header against WBC and Ring magazine king Fury as a reward in 2021.