If you are Anthony Joshua, there is surely a lot to think about right now.
Joshua, the former unified WBA, WBO, and IBF champion, lost his titles to underdog Andy Ruiz on June 1st in New York. Joshua got off to a fast start that evening, scoring a knockdown in the third round, but was dropped twice in the same round later on.
Two more knockdowns followed in round seven and the fight was waved off. Ruiz and his team erupted in celebration while Joshua could only show great class in defeat. There appears to be an immediate rematch that will likely take place later this year at a site to be determined, so we should be seeing these two in the ring again.
After the first fight, some things became clear. One is that Ruiz is a worthy champion who earned his title the old-fashioned way by knocking out the former champion. Two is that Joshua, for all his size, still needs some fine-tuning.
Joshua is a physically imposing fighter, but he crumbled a bit under Ruiz’s pressure. His defense also wasn’t as tight as we would have liked to see during intense moments that saw firepower coming his way.
Longtime boxing analyst Max Kellerman recently shared his thoughts on the possible rematch and played the role of coach for a moment.
“If I’m in Joshua’s corner I’m telling him ‘limit exchanges’,” Kellerman said to Fight Hub TV. “That doesn’t mean don’t fight aggressively, fight behind the jab, you can be aggressive, but limit exchanges, meaning ones, one-twos, occasionally a hook behind it.”
Kellerman then went on to speak as to the difference between both men, implying that Ruiz is a bit more of a seasoned fighter due to his past pedigree.
“But you don’t wanna start exchanging with a guy if you hurt him because Ruiz’s muscle memory is from when he was five years old,” said Kellerman. “So, in those exchanges the athlete does not do well against the boxer. And even though Joshua’s got the Gold medal, Ruiz has the deeper amateur pedigree.”
Adding further to the drama, we also saw the other two top heavyweights, WBC champion Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury, score sensational knockouts in their recent performances. Wilder stopped Dominic Breazeale on May 18th with a huge right hand to defend his title while Fury outclassed Thomas Schwarz, ending his night in the second round.
Wilder and Fury appear headed for a rematch in early 2020, while Joshua will have to deal with his own rematch later this year.
So, as Joshua has received some criticism for his lone defeat, the other two juggernauts in the division have since rose their stock just a bit.
If there is something positive Joshua can take from this, perhaps it would be from his countryman Lennox Lewis, who had suffered a shocking knockout loss to Hasim Rahman during his career. Lewis went on to make adjustments and stop Rahman in their rematch.
If Joshua is willing to still learn and grow as a fighter, there is hope for him yet.