World Boxing News understands Anthony Joshua has been in trouble once again when preparing for a fight with Andy Ruiz Jr.
Just like the last camp, which WBN reported first at the time, Joshua was rumored to have been hurt significantly when trading blows with a sparring partner.
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During training for the June 1st meeting, WBN revealed it was Joey Dawejko who dropped AJ as he was put through his paces for an American debut.
Dawejko was then silent when asked to confirm the rumors, only adding more fuel to the fire.
This time around, but without a name for confirmation, Joshua was again rocked in the run-up to facing Mexico’s first heavyweight king.
Albon Pervizaj, Tom Little, Derek Chisora, Andrew Tabiti and Timothy Moten have all spent time inside the ropes with Joshua since the summer.
Any one of those could be responsible for the incident, which comes despite further news stories of Joshua being dominant.
Obviously, being one of the biggest punchers in the division, the former world champion can give as good as he gets. But given the level of class most of those sparring partners are at, it doesn’t bode well for Joshua’s chances of revenge.
Ruiz is no longer the unknown quantity he was. And no longer considered the out-of-shape also-ran from the first bout at Madison Square Garden.
Many fans of Joshua claim the result of the victory, in which the Briton was dropped four times, was merely an underestimation on his part. Many more of those fully expect rectification in Saudi Arabia.
On the flipside of that, there are detractors who see Ruiz simply having Joshua’s number and on the cusp of fully repeating his feat of six months ago.
It all builds up nicely to one of the biggest top division battles of the year. Made all the more important due to what is at stake for Joshua.
A loss means the 30 year-old is frozen out of the title picture. Al Haymon, who has both Deontay Wilder and Ruiz in his stable, would then hold all the aces at 200 pounds plus.
The winner of Wilder versus Tyson Fury in a forthcoming rematch is firmly in line for an undisputed unification later in 2020.
Joshua did have the opportunity to face Wilder in 2018 but turned down a $100 million summer offer to fight on Showtime in the United States.
Fury stepped into the breach and now stands on the verge of a potential trilogy with Wilder worth up to nine figures for both boxers.
A second fight in February is expected to be followed up by a UK rematch. This is before the eventual victor battles Ruiz in what could be the most desirable heavyweight clash around.
All the marbles will be at stake, something Joshua will have to put a stop to this weekend.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay