Nigerian-born world heavyweight boxer, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua is talking tough again, despite his shock defeat at the weekend by Mexico’s Andy Ruiz Jnr, as the former champion says he will bounce better, stronger and wiser.
‘AJ’ admitted his mistakes, soon after suffering a seventh round knock-out by Ruiz, who was a late substitute for America’s Jarell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, but is now bracing for rematch later this year, with his promoter, Eddie Hearn targeting the second fight to hold in the UK.
Joshua added that his demolition by Ruiz, who is now Mexico’s first heavyweight champion, is a huge setback to his career and genuine test of his character, but insists he has come too far to fold under pressure.
He vowed to make a speedy return, after suffering his first professional defeat, on his US debut, as he was knocked down four times before a seventh-round stoppage at New York’s Madison Square Garden to lose his IBF, WBO and WBA ‘Super’ world heavyweight titles.
Joshua’s immediate response was to skip the post-fight news conference, as observers counted the night’s big losses, including Miller, the original opponent, who was dropped when he tested positive for drugs.
Same went for Luis Ortiz, the Cuban heavyweight who was offered $6m to fill in for Miller but held out for $7m, and Adam Kownacki, unbeaten heavyweight from Brooklyn, who apparently felt he just wasn’t ready.
All three must have been kicking themselves watching Ruiz kick the stuffing out of Joshua, who was widely considered one of the world’s two best heavyweights.
“I’m still pinching myself to see if this is real, man. Amazing,’’ said Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs).
When they stpped together before the opening bell, the size difference and disparity in physical conditioning was almost comical, like a movie fight between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Lou Costello.
At 5-foot-11 and 268 pounds, Ruiz was 7 inches shorter and 20 pounds heavier than the chiseled Joshua.
However, in the ring, Ruiz was more tiger than elephant, undressing Joshua in front of a highly partisan sellout crowd of about 20,000, many of whom had made the trip over from England.
They had spent much of the night chanting Joshua’s name, singing British pub favorites, and booing the image of Ruiz in his dressing room whenever it appeared on the overhead screens.
By the time it was over, at 1:26 of the seventh round, that same throng was booing the man they had come to celebrate.
Joshua admits he was beaten by the “better man” on the night as his hopes of setting up blockbuster fights against Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury suffered an unforeseen complication.
Before his now disastrous USA debut, ‘AJ’ had won all 22 of his previous bouts, but the 29-year-old Brit says his full focus will now be on ensuring when he returns to the ring he would again be heavyweight champion.
Joshua said: “This is part of a journey I am on. This is boxing and what I have to do is reevaluate the situation.
“Make it better and we go again. We didn’t come this far to stop, fold under pressure.
“We came this far and I feel we can definitely go a lot further. Hunger is about life, not just boxing.
“That doesn’t leave me. I am grinding. I am ready to get back to work tomorrow – this is who I am.”