A year ago yesterday, Anthony Joshua suffered a massive setback, dropping the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles in a stunning, sport-shaking upset to Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.
The night was meant to be AJ’s big, successful American debut, but it turned into an absolute nightmare.
And things could have been worse, but Joshua credits the loyalty of those around him for helping him to bounce back six months later, beating Ruiz in the rematch:
“After I lost you have time to think. But none of the boys went out [to party in New York]. ... [W]hen you’ve been winning for so many years it can come across that [these people] were just here for the good times. But they stuck with me and didn’t leave my side, and I only realized that when I had time to myself. These people are real. ... No one changed. People love you when you’re winning. But you realize that they love you for who you are, and what you represent.”
Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) didn’t just win and get his titles back, he totally dominated Ruiz (33-2, 22 KO) to the point that a rubber match between the two — which would be a totally normal expectation — has been demanded by nobody.
The 30-year-old Joshua is currently slated to face IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KO), which was originally scheduled for June 20 but has been pushed back. A new date and location has not been determined, but Eddie Hearn doesn’t think the fight will happen until at least some fans are allowed to attend in the UK.