As fans may recall, shortly after his stunning upset defeat to Andy Ruiz in June, Anthony Joshua was accused of having been badly hurt, knocked down, perhaps even knocked out, in sparring just prior to the bout in New York (Joey Dawejko being the guy pointed at for doing the damage). It was this, along with a few other things, even a panic attack suffered on the way to the ring (denied by AJ) that was instrumental in Joshua being beaten.
Just yesterday, a rumor emerged that Joshua has been hurt quite badly in sparring ahead of Saturday night’s crunch rematch with Ruiz. WBN put the story out, with a number of other web sites/publications running the story also. So has Joshua been hurt, knocked down, KO’d, in sparring this time around (AJ strongly denies he was ever flattened in sparring prior to fight-one)?
Eddie Hearn has been swift in denying these whispers. Talking with Behind the Gloves, the promoter was scathing in his response to the sparring rumors:
“It’s not even worth answering, but the truth is he’s had a great camp,” Hearn said flatly. “he’s much more focused than last time, he’s sparred really well. The difference in this camp is his sparring has been world, world class. He’s had top guys – Andrew Tabiti, Tyrone Spong, Bryant Jennings, [Dereck] Chisora. Top sparring, who have consistently put pressure on him. He hasn’t been hurt, he hasn’t been ill, hasn’t been injured. He’s good to go. If he loses, I’d like to have an excuse, but no, all pressure on Saturday to perform.”
Doubtless Hearn’s reassurance will not satisfy all people with a conspiratorial mindset, people who lap up these type of stories, but those inside the AJ camp have said the former champ has been taking care of business in sparring, that he is in a “destroyer” mood. These are the days we live in, with internet stories such as this one popping up all the time. Imagine if we had the internet back in, say Muhammad Ali’s day, imagine the stories that would have come out then. Ali seldom looked good in sparring, yet he always did his thing when fight night came.
If Joshua loses again on Saturday there will be no excuses, he will simply have lost to the better man. All the hard sparring should have been done now anyway. Let’s now look forward to a great fight between two world class heavyweights who are both in perfect physical shape. No excuses.