People calling the Anthony Joshua defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. ‘the biggest shock in heavyweight history’ really need to give their head a wobble.
Joshua is a good fighter, and a solid heavyweight champion in this day and age, but nowhere near the levels of a Lennox Lewis or a Mike Tyson.
Let’s get it straight. Joshua defeated a Wladimir Klitschko way past his prime and is fighting in an era with hardly any top level of opposition.
Ruiz was in the right place at the right time as Joshua has been ripe for the picking since defeating Charles Martin and Dominic Breazeale.
Both of those American challengers would have been nowhere near Tyson or Lewis back in the day. A fact which is in no way Anthony Joshua’s fault.
Hasim Rahman and James ‘Buster’Douglas well and truly shocked the world against Lewis and Tyson. Ruiz, unfortunately, capitalized on a known chink in Joshua’s armour.
‘AJ’ has only been able to defeat what’s put in front of him. Sadly for him, the fight he should have suffered his first loss in was not taken at the correct time.
Wilder, Fury and Joshua all deserved to face each other. But now it’s clear to the world why Joshua has been steered away from either for so long.
The 2012 Olympic champion has been a knockout waiting to happen for a while now. Something Wilder and Fury have been stating for the longest spell.
Obviously hurting, Joshua had every right to be put in with the best and go out on his shield. Ruiz took that away from him as the only real live challenger Joshua has faced in his career.
The pressure of heading to the United States, which clearly wasn’t in the gameplan at this point in his career, got to Joshua in the end.
Plans to fill Wembley in April went to pot. Joshua was then pushed into making moves across the Atlantic.
Truth is, Joshua never looked comfortable at Madison Square Garden.
So what now for Joshua?
Well, he’ll head back to the United Kingdom with his tail between his legs. A rematch, potentially in Tottenham Hotspurs’ new stadium awaits both Joshua and Ruiz.
A big decision needs to be made on trainer and manager Robert McCracken, though.
McCracken has never sat right with many as Joshua’s coach and a change could be the first order of the day.
Can Joshua come back?
Of course, he can. With the correct guidance, Joshua can be a world beater. He has all the attributes to do so. But being steered down the right path is essential.
Since turning pro, a lot of choices have been made for financial reasons, rather than boxing.
This is something Joshua needs to figure out on his own before he can ever reach the dizzy heights his team proclaimed he’d already hit.
The one thing Joshua has in abundance, though, is personality and graciousness. He just needs to find himself again.
Wilder and Fury were already squarely off the menu until 2021 or 2022 without Joshua having a say. This fact has now turned from a hindrance to a help as Joshua attempts to rebuild.
Ruiz will fancy his chances when the pair meet again. And unless Joshua makes wholesale changes from top to bottom, removing the ‘yes men’ surrounding him, a repeat victory for the Mexican is on the cards.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay