This week seems to get stranger for fans of Anthony Joshua who may well be wondering where their squeaky clean former world champion has gone.
Once the darling of the British boxing fraternity, Joshua has gone rogue in what many see as a deliberate act.
Joshua, not content with labelling one of the greatest heavyweights of all time ‘a clown’, decided to describe his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. as coming from a ‘lucky punch’ and a ‘punch from the Gods’.
The wording is unfathomable in the context in which Joshua said it, given the fact AJ was down four times and hurt nearly every time Ruiz hit him flush during the devastating loss.
Questions must be asked as to why Joshua would even say those words.
Ruiz must have scored a lot more of those ‘lucky punches’ as Joshua surrendered his four world titles belts in humbling fashion.
Whose idea it was to begin this facade of being the bad guy is anyone’s guess. But one thing that’s for sure is Joshua does not fit the cap.
Maybe it’s the real Anthony Joshua? – We may never know. It looks to be a contrived move.
In contrast, Lennox Lewis has been backed since the pair opened a war of words, largely instigated by Joshua himself.
‘The Pugilist Specialist’ – a three-time heavyweight title holder, has only ever given an honest opinion of Joshua’s career.
Some of the things said were brutal, although Joshua’s boxing path has now proven a massive percentage of those things correct.
Staying at home and defending his title against lesser fighters was one criticism from Lewis. The legend stated Joshua should test his skills abroad.
No sooner did Joshua do that, he lost. Something which outlines the distinct comfort zone either Joshua wanted or his team pursued.
Despite a 2012 Olympic gold medal, which was debated as bias at the time, Joshua has always had much to prove.
Turning pro with Eddie Hearn and guided on a controlled path from the start, Joshua’s biggest career test came against Joseph Parker.
Unifying against the New Zealander on points, the victory is Joshua’s best performance by far.
A win over Wladimir Klitschko is highly tainted due to the schooling Tyson Fury gave the Ukrainian eighteen months earlier.
Waiting around for Fury for over a year killed Klitschko’s desire and ultimately dropped the veterans’ levels before Joshua eventually shared the ring with him.
Even then, the frailties in Joshua’s locker were apparent as Klitschko almost ended him in the sixth round.
Alexander Povetkin was a top amateur and is a threat to most, but size and age caught up with the Russian some time ago.
The fact is, Povetkin just can’t compete with any of the real giant heavyweights who operate at world class.
Mihai Nistor opened up that can of worms in 2011, and sadly for Joshua, it’s never gone away.
This new-found spoiled brat attitude doesn’t wash and certainly won’t help Joshua retain his titles.
Ruiz, on the other hand, has firmly overtaken that humble mantle as the Mexican enjoys the spoils of exposing Joshua’s obvious flaws.
Deserving every cent of the purse he won against Joshua, Ruiz is now chasing more money to take the fight to Saudi Arabia on Joshua’s wishes.
In an eye-popping attempt to potentially cash out, Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn have chosen the Middle East to maximize what could be one of the last big purses the Londoner could earn.
A repeat loss to Ruiz would freeze Joshua out of the top division picture. It means more knock over opponents would be required to reposition him for a further shot.
WILDER v RUIZ
Deontay Wilder v Ruiz is fast becoming the biggest fight to make, with even Fury stalling on an intended return with the ‘Bronze Bomber’ for 2020.
Whatever happens, Joshua is on a collision course with Ruiz first. But his job is hard enough without courting controversy in the build-up.
The whole episode reeks of the social media stink Joshua brushed off a couple of years back and most of his supporters will want the old AJ back as soon as possible.
Let’s hope that happens before the opening Ruiz bell, not least for Joshua’s clutch of sponsors.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay