What’s next for Anthony Joshua?
The unexpected happened last weekend in the Joshua vs Ruiz fight. Anthony Joshua, the undisputed champion was beaten by Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr.
Saturday’s American debut for the leading light in the heavyweight division was supposed to be a home run for Anthony Joshua. However, Andy Ruiz Jr had other ideas, and the future of the Brit has been thrown into chaos.
It will undoubtedly go down as one of the most shocking results in the history of elite sport, as Ruiz knocked down the reigning champion four times on his way to a famous seventh-round win.
What’s next for Anthony Joshua? Will he fight a rematch with Ruiz or will the Wilder vs Joshua fight still go ahead?
The anticipation for Anthony Joshua’s American bow was at seismic levels; with the Madison Square Garden pre-sale for a boxing event record smashed, but the action on that fateful night couldn’t have gone any worse.
The third round was when the tide really turned against the Brit. Joshua boasts one of the betting KO percentages in the world, and that looked to increase further when AJ floored Ruiz.
However, as the Garden was preparing for a brutal finish, Ruiz fought back and floored the champion. That punch changed the fight. Joshua never recovered, and the rumours circulating that he was suffering from a concussion do have substance.
He was heard on ringside cameras asking his trainer ‘why do I feel like this?’, and from that point, the fight was over. Fast forward to the seventh round, and the +3000 shot with some bookmakers finished the job with two more brutal knockdowns.
Joshua stood up, but Michael Griffin had seen enough and called it off. The Garden was in shock, fans’ couldn’t believe what they were witnessing, and for a good reason. Ruiz became the first Mexican world heavyweight champion, and Joshua and his team were left to lick their wounds.
What’s next for Anthony Joshua?
That’s the golden question. Eddie Hearn announced after the fight that they would look to take advantage of the rematch clause in the contract and take the fight back to the UK and a possible money-spinning fight at Wembley.
However, Dillian Whyte is a mandatory challenger for the heavyweight title and he could push to get a fight against Ruiz before Joshua’s camp can get the deal done. Should Whyte face Ruiz before Joshua then the former champion’s future would become uncertain.
That would be the worst case scenario for Joshua, as he would instead either challenge Ruiz for no titles or have to face off against a much more dangerous opponent in Whyte.
A likely scenario is a showpiece event between Joshua and Ruiz in England later this year, and then Whyte and Joshua doing battle following this; depending on the result. Should Joshua lose the rematch then the next fight for AJ could be against Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury should either of their camps be interested in making it happen.
The cards that Joshua’s camp have been able to use as a bargaining chip have no disappeared, and the willingness of Joshua to get back into the ring is the critical aspect that will decide who he fights next. But another defeat could be damaging, and effectively end his career.
Antony Joshua’s Legacy
Some of the best heavyweights of all time have suffered damaging defeats. Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali all ended their careers with blemishes on their records, but they all reacted to embarrassing defeats.
The most similar shock to Joshua’s defeat was Buster Douglas’ KO win over Mike Tyson in Japan. Tyson returned to the ring and was victorious on his next six bouts, before back-to-back defeats against Evander Holyfield. The reaction cemented the legacy of Tyson as one of the best heavyweights in the world.
Much like what Tyson endured, this defeat has threatened to eradicate Joshua’s legacy, but the response to a setback it always how the top heavyweights are remembered.
Should Anthony Joshua win the rematch emphatically then he will be back on track. However, a defeat would put him at a level where he may never be able to recover.
Anthony Joshua is the -350 favorite at BetOnline to win the rematch.