Sky Sports pundits have engaged in a spirited debate on ‘The Gloves Are Off – The Debate’ about whether Anthony Joshua 22-1 (21) could have continued in his fight against Andy Ruiz Jr 33-1 (22).
Joshua was knocked down four times during his seventh-round loss to Ruiz Jr at New York’s Madison Square Garden in June, costing him his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles.
The pair will square off in a rematch in Saudi Arabia on December 7.
Carl Froch said: “He was in serious trouble. Every time he tried to punch, he got counterpunched towards the end.
“The body shots, the head shots were clipping him. His legs were still gone, but the stoppage, when he went over, he kind of looked at his corner, then he spat his gum shield out.
“Okay, good move, give yourself a bit of a breather, then when he stood up, he knew he stood up on eight seconds. You have to then look at the referee in the eye and convince the referee ‘I want to keep fighting’, by the way.
“But he walked back to the corner nonchalantly, put his gloves up. Well, that’s ultimately why the referee stopped the fight, because he didn’t look like he wanted to carry on, did he?”
Tony Bellew added: “Does he thinks he’s getting the benefit of the doubt, because of who he is?
“A kid coming from the situation and the place he’s come from, they don’t quit. I don’t care what anybody says, there’s no way in a million years. At no point did he say ‘I don’t want no more.’ At no point did he shake his head and say ‘no’.”
David Haye commented: “That part that I couldn’t get my head around is – in the seventh round when he got put down, it wasn’t like a big shot. He seemed like he just got cuffed and just wanted a little bit of a break.
“He goes down, gathers himself, gets up at eight and then turns his back and walks away from the referee at eight. That’s one thing I don’t understand. Maybe he realised that it’s the ‘AJ Show’ and the referee is going to give me the benefit of the doubt?
“I would never get up in a fight at eight and turn my back on the ref, because I would expect the referee to go ‘the fight is over!'”
Paulie Malignaggi observed: “I watched the [Wladimir] Klitschko fight myself. Get up in front of 90,000 people, not only get up after a knockdown, but then go through the next couple of rounds when it’s not going his way and he’s still focused, concentrated until he finally steadies the ship and turns it around and gets a knockout against an ex-world champion.
“He showed he can do it, but was the fatigue a factor in this fight to take the fight out of him? At that moment, was he just like ‘wow, this guy is coming at me and I’m too tired to deal with this?’ I’m playing Devil’s advocate because again, the reaction in that moment – could he have quit? It’s possible, it’s up for debate.”