- Anthony Joshua has denied rumours that he suffered a panic attack in the New York Knicks dressing room moments before he lost his world titles to Andy Ruiz Jr.
- Joshua was ruthlessly beaten by Ruiz Jr. on Saturday, and the defeat has spawned a number of wild conspiracy theories as the internet attempts to rationalize the former champion’s defeat.
- But Joshua has slapped down the rumours, saying he is a “soldier” and is taking the defeat like a man.
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The beaten British heavyweight looked sluggish throughout his American debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He was twice knocked down in the third and seventh rounds before the referee waved the bout off for good when Joshua was propping himself up on the top ropes in a neutral corner.
His promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport confirmed Joshua had suffered a concussion, but later denied that there were any concerns regarding the fighter’s health, mindset, or fitness ahead of last weekend’s shocker.
Reports suggested Joshua had been knocked out in a late sparring session in May, had a panic attack backstage on the night, and walked to the ring with a concussion before he had even been hit by Ruiz Jr.
Joshua has now rejected these rumours.
“I know there’s a lot of accusations and worries about what was wrong with me,” he said in the YouTube video. “But I want to tell you this … I’m a soldier and I have to take my ups and my downs and on Saturday, I took a loss, and I have to take it like a man. One of my sayings is, ‘Never let success get to your head and never let your failures get to your heart.’
“It’s tough,” he added. “When you lose sometimes it feels like it rips away a part of you.”
He later said: “We were in the [New York] Knicks dressing room … I had no panic attack. I’m not that type of person. You know me. I have to take my loss like a man, no blaming anyone or anything. My performance didn’t go to plan.”
Not everybody in the sport will be convinced by Joshua’s statement. His former opponent Dillian Whyte, who beat him in an amateur bout in 2009 but lost a rematch in the professional ranks in 2015, told Sky Sports Joshua was far too respectful of Ruiz Jr.
Joshua was even seen during fight week handing his world title belts to Ruiz Jr. so the Mexican heavyweight could pose with them in front of photographers. Ruiz Jr. had to give them back, but he now has them for good having beaten Joshua so conclusively on Saturday.
‘People have breakdowns’
“He was too respectful,” Whyte told Sky Sports. “He was giving him his belts and taking photos. I was thinking, ‘You’re about to go to war with this man, I don’t understand why you’re handing him your belts.’ The whole thing was a bit strange, Joshua’s demenour. His mindset, his approach.
“It was a bit strange for my liking … maybe he didn’t want the pressure of wanting to be champion anymore. Sometimes these things happen … people have breakdowns, stress out, and can’t cope with being under the microscope for 24 hours.”
After speaking to Joshua this week, Hearn confirmed on Wednesday that the team activated a contractual rematch clause and is hopeful of securing a second Joshua and Ruiz Jr. fight for November or December. It is unclear whether the bout will be held at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales – home turf for Joshua – or in Los Angeles or Mexico, like Ruiz Jr. had hoped.
“He has six months to be champion,” Joshua said. “He’s going to have to defend his titles against myself. I would not mind if it was in New York again, or in England. I’d love it to be in England. But in New York, they opened their arms to me and my team. It was phenomenal. Madison Square Garden … even though it didn’t go my way, history was created.”
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