Anthony Joshua 22-1 (21) was relieved to lose his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championships to Andy Ruiz Jr 33-1 (22).
That’s the shock claim from Eddie Hearn, who promoter Joshua’s shock TKO7 loss to the unheralded Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1.
The 29-year-old Brit was on the canvas four times en route to his first professional loss.
Matchroom Boxing boss Hearn, who promotes Joshua, said the loss may well be a blessing in disguise.
“Anthony has this massive pressure on his shoulders all the time,” Hearn said on BBC Radio 5 Live’s No Passion, No Point podcast.
“He is the first megastar of boxing in this country and it was almost like a relief to him.
“He will never admit that but the fact that I am the challenger now, I am not this champion who has four belts and who everyone expects me to win all the time… It’s kind of like the pressure is off.”
In the wake of Joshua’s unlikely defeat questions have been raised about his future in the sport at the top level.
The calls for Joshua to face American WBC champion Deontay Wilder 41-0-1 (40) have gone quiet, as have those who previously wanted to see him face compatriot Tyson Fury 27-0-1 (19).
Fury is scheduled to face little-known German Tom Schwarz 24-0 (16) in Las Vegas this weekend, while Wilder is expected to rematch Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz 31-1 (26) in September or October.
The self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ has questioned whether Joshua can mentally rebound from the high-profile loss in his US debut.
“When a man doesn’t want to be there once, he will always do it and it’s hard to come back from,” Fury said.
“He did it that night and I don’t think he will come back from it.
“Ask any top trainer who has been around the sport a lifetime. When he got to the ring I saw he didn’t want to be there.”