WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder took pleasure in gloating about Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) suffering his first career defeat on Saturday night to challenger Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) in losing by a seventh round TKO at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s hard for Wilder not to gloat. After all this time that Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn have been going back and forth with Wilder. It’s got to be a good feeling for Wilder to see Joshua knocked down a peg.
Joshua was attempting to win over the American fans in order to create pressure on Wilder for him to face him in a fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship. Instead things fell apart at the seams for Joshua with Ruiz Jr. showing superb hand speed in knocking him down 4 times in the fight before the fight was stopped in round seven by referee Michael Griffin.
Joshua’s loss also hurts Wilder
Wilder needs to see the big picture. He did’t come out ahead with Joshua losing tonight. What this means is Joshua’s popularity will certainly dip after tonight, and the money won’t be as good later down the road when/if he faces Wilder. Moreover, Joshua plans on fighting Ruiz Jr. in a rematch in an attempt to avenge his loss, and win his back his precious IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles. A second loss for Joshua against Ruiz Jr. will smash his career to bits, sending him in downward spiral that he may not come out of.
Joshua is a proud fighter. He can absorb one loss to the tubby Ruiz Jr., but not two defeats. Joshua said it himself tonight. “I’d rather have lost to Deontay Wilder than Ruiz Jr.” You know what Joshua means by that. It would be easier for Joshua to absorb a defeat to a talented, in shape looking, and well-respected Wilder than it will be for him to come to grips with a defeat against Ruiz Jr. Joshua might retire if he loses to Ruiz Jr. a second time, because that send a message to him and to his many boxing fans that he’s not the top dog that he thought he was. Sure, Joshua can setup fights with Wilder, Dillian Whyte and/or Tyson Fury after he gets knocked out again by Ruiz Jr., but his career would be in the same place Amir Khan’s career is at. Joshua might still be able to make money on Sky Box Office, but it likely won’t be the same as was before.
Wilder in good position to get a 50-50 deal with Joshua now
Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn would look silly now if they insist on taking the bigger slice of the financial pie against Wilder. Joshua would now be the challenger, and not the three-belt champion that he was previously. Joshua’s loss tonight changes everything. He might not want to admit it, but he’ll find out the hard way if he chooses to try and setup a fight against Wilder. More than anything, Joshua needs to beat Ruiz Jr. in the rematch in the UK, and get his three titles back so that he can be in good shape to negotiate from a position of strength for a unification fight against Wilder.