THE sheen was already fading from Anthony Joshua’s national-treasure standing earlier than he was pummelled into submission by a flabby no-hoper at Madison Sq. Backyard.
Defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr — an obese understudy for drug cheat Jarrell Miller — was one of the crucial beautiful upsets boxing has ever seen.
But regardless of Joshua’s unbeaten document and the truth that he held three of the 4 recognised world heavyweight belts, momentum was shifting away.
Joshua had been the undoubted folks’s champ, reputation unprecedented in British boxing historical past.
The Olympic gold medallist’s earlier 4 fights — two which bought out Wembley Stadium, two which packed Cardiff’s Principality Stadium — have been grand events.
He stated: “Once I combat, it’s like a nationwide vacation.”
But after the collapse of a unification combat in opposition to Deontay Wilder final September, Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn have been blindsided as Tyson Fury stepped in and took on American WBC champion Wilder.
When Wilder and Fury fought out an epic attract Los Angeles in December, all of a sudden Joshua not felt like the principle man — regardless of holding three-quarters of the titles.
Hearn had one other Wembley Stadium date booked for April 27.
But when Wilder didn’t occur once more, and even an all-British scrap with Dillian Whyte didn’t materialise, the date was embarrassingly scrapped.
DISMANTLED BY A ‘BUM’
Whereas heading to the States for an A-list combat would have been an apparent subsequent step, taking over a ‘no person’ on his American debut — after greater than eight months out of the ring — has proved disastrous.
It didn’t assist Joshua’s sturdy British profile that, as a substitute of preventing in entrance of 80,000 at prime time, he was showing at 4am on a weekend dominated — on this aspect of the pond — by an all-English Champions League remaining.
All of it felt as if Joshua’s camp had taken their eye off the ball, that they have been chasing simple cash quite than glory and had develop into complacent.
Joshua had a 24-man entourage within the Huge Apple — however none of them appeared to have warned him about Ruiz’s clubbing proper hand excessive.
Therefore many will take some satisfaction that AJ has ended up with chew marks on his bottom.
One punch can at all times flip an underdog right into a champion, but Ruiz despatched Joshua to the canvas 4 instances earlier than the combat was stopped within the seventh.
The champion was routinely dismantled by the ‘bum of the month’.
Many purists at all times favoured Fury over Joshua.
The Gypsy King is actually a superior technician, whereas Joshua can seem robotic.
His harshest critics even declare he’s extra body-builder than prize-fighter.
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LEFT FOR DEAD
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Defeat may not send AJ’s popularity into terminal decline, he is still the same likeable character and was gracious in his humiliating defeat.
And a Ruiz-Joshua rematch, followed by Wilder-Fury II, would bring interest surging back to the heavyweight division after all of the big three went for supposedly easy fights.
But it is a long route back for Joshua — both as a fighter and as a national hero.