Anthony Joshua hurt in sparring? Warren not convinced by Joshua’s punch resistance

Steve Wellings

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The usual fight week anticipation once again had its fair share of rumours and whispers attached as stories surfaced that Anthony Joshua had been hurt in sparring ahead of his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia. How much credence can be placed in to such tales is open to debate as similar projections swirled around the first fight.

Joshua was reported to have been knocked out in that original camp as well. Slick Philadelphia boxer Joey Dawejko was the man believed to have inflicted the damage although he declined to confirm either way. Former European title holder Agit Kabayel was also accredited with the “ghost KO”. Other insiders suggested that Joshua had indeed been floored but not badly hurt.

Meanwhile, rival promoter Frank Warren has weighed in to the Joshua discussion by claiming the ex-champion will still be belt less come the end of the fight on Saturday. Warren helped guide Tyson Fury’s career after the “Gypsy King” returned to the ring last year. Fury has since worked on building his worldwide profile via an appearance on the WWE. Tyson is working with fight veteran Bob Arum and ESPN in the States and is set for a money-spinning rematch with old foe Deontay Wilder in February 2020. That fight should settle the score after their late 2018 draw.

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Warren may not be directly working with the Joshua rival anymore but he still thinks AJ’s punch resistance will falter in a similar manner to the first contest. Warren endorsed the rumours of Joshua being hurt in the build-up to the first Ruiz bout, saying that Joshua’s inability to absorb Ruiz’s shots indicated an ongoing fragility.

Even though Frank does not envisage a twice-beaten Joshua being able to pack out huge stadiums anymore he does believe that Eddie Hearn’s fighter will remain a star and very much in the British public’s consciousness.

One man trying to climb back in to the limelight is former Joshua victim Dillian Whyte. “The Bodysnatcher” was riding high in the heavyweight division up to and during his win over Oscar Rivas. That was before a shock PED situation came to light that cast doubt on Whyte’s future. In a quite remarkable twist, Whyte has re-appeared on the Saudi undercard even though no official judgement has been released about his eligibility or whether he can compete in the UK.

Whyte will no doubt fancy a rematch with his old nemesis Joshua at some point in the future. Sparring stories aide, Joshua can only focus on Andy Ruiz for now. Everything else must wait.

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