Joshua has since owned up to his emotions getting the better of him for the latter, and promoter Eddie Hearn still sees a big future for the man who has, in many ways, been the key factor to Matchroom Boxing becoming a promotional giant in the last decade.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Anthony Joshua,” Hearn wrote on social media. “I can’t tell you how much he wanted to win last night. I can’t tell you how hard he tried.
“Don’t be deceived by a brave face or a strong frame, this man has always been under pressure and has given so much to British boxing. The emotion last night was that of a devastated man, and maybe all those years of pressure finally showed.”
Hearn says he’s excited for Joshua to not be tied up in the world title scene for the first time since 2016, after only turning pro in 2013 after winning Olympic gold in London the year prior.
“I’m excited for the future, excited for him to be free of belts (for now), free of mandatories, and just get active, improve, express himself in and out of the ring, and above all be happy. Here’s to the next chapter.”
It’s inarguable that there has been massive pressure on Joshua since he won that gold in London; probably even as he was attempting to win that gold in London, of course, but especially as a pro. The man’s debut was a main event on Sky Sports at London’s O2 Arena. All eyes have been on him every step of the way.
I actually do think there could be some good that comes from not being in the world title mix for a moment. Of course, if, say, the belts were to go vacant, you can bet Hearn and Co. would have him right there fighting for one of them.
But unless that happens, Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be his first that isn’t for a world title since Dec. 2015, when he fought Dillian Whyte — and even that was a Sky Box Office main event, so the next fight would maybe be the least pressure on Joshua since he fought Gary Cornish three months before fighting Whyte. That’s not to say there will be no pressure, but when you’re used to 10/10, 8/10 might seem pretty light.