Anthony Joshua has appeared to have made some effort to lose some of his muscle mass ahead of his rematch with Andy Ruiz.
The pair originally clashed at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 1st, a fight that saw one of boxing’s biggest upsets when Joshua was stopped on his feet in the seventh round after being knocked down a total of four times. The then Mexican American challenger was floored, himself, in the third.
Since then, the Joshua camp has remained largely quiet which is often a sign that any boxer has been working hard in the gym. It has come to light today that Saudi Arabia will be hosting the return after offering up nearly $100,000,000 to stage the contest. A date of December 7th has also been confirmed. London was mentioned as a possible location but the champion was adamant that he would not be fighting here and giving Joshua home advantage. It was at this point that Eddie Hearn said that a neutral site would be likely.
A photo of Anthony sitting on a stool in a ring wearing white boxing gloves and grey trunks surfaced online earlier today which shows that he appears to have shed a lot of the muscle mass that he usually carries with him. Stamina and, or speed are the likely attributes that he is currently working to obtain.
But is this a good idea?
There are often criticisms that Joshua always appeared to be too bulky in appearance which elevated fears for his endurance levels. However, there has been little evidence to suggest that he struggled with stamina in the past. He cruised to the distance quite easily with Joseph Parker. And despite being knocked down by Wladimir Klitschko in the 6th round, he came back to knock out the Ukrainian in the 11th. He had a little trouble dealing with Carlos Takam but he was suffering a heavy nose bleed throughout that bout which likely impeded his breathing. Yet, he was still able to finish him in the 10th. So, as you can see, I do not totally buy the argument that stamina was ever a major problem. And if it was, it was certainly not a central issue.
Then there is the danger of feeling fatigue after losing so much muscle. So many boxers of the past have paid the price for that. If more stamina is being aimed for then we better hope it does not back fire.
But going back to the fight that happened in June, the footage shows pretty clearly that after Ruiz was knocked down Joshua showed too much eagerness to get things over with and became reckless by trading with a known sharp counter puncher. It was at this point that he was caught with a counter left hook to the temple that I have doubts that he ever recovered from for as long as the battle lasted.
What some seem to forget is that Anthony Joshua is still a work in progress. He won his first world title in only his 16th fight. To date, he has had only 23 fights. Sure, there have been other boxers who have won world titles with less under their belt. But those guys were not the complete article, either. Anthony still has a lot to learn. And I believe that his overenthusiasm was simply a symptom of inexperience.
It is also why I am not totally confident that he wins the rematch.
I had full confidence in Lennox Lewis in avenging his loss to Hasim Rahman because there was little left to learn at that stage of his career. Joshua is a different story. This is a critical one!
And it will be a war that will either make or break him.