What next for dethroned Anthony Joshua?

Anthony Joshua will head back to the drawing board for his next opponent after falling to his first professional defeat by Andy Ruiz Jnr at Madison Square Garden.

His preferred opponents Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury are set to fight each other in 2020 after the American confirmed their rematch in a promotional video on 31 May.

With Luis Ortiz fighting Wilder next, Joshua will look to reclaim his title belts in a bid to take a step closer to a unification bout.

A rematch against the newly-crowned heavyweight champion of the world looks almost certain.

Joshua will be determined to quickly regain hold of his WBA, WBO and IBF belts and Ruiz coming to the UK for a rematch looks most likely due to a clause in the initial fight contract.

The Mexican was given little to no hope in New York on Saturday night but showed off his skills with aplomb and now holds all the cards for what happens next.

AJ pulled off a stunning win when he met Wladmir Klitschko in 2017 which saw both fighters hit the canvas.

The British star eventually stopped the former world champion in the 11th round at Wembley.

Klitschko retired in August 2017 but recent reports have suggested he has met with streaming service DAZN over a potential comeback.

Aleander Krassyuk, who is the director of the Kiltschko brothers’ promotional company, K2 Promotions, said in January there is a ‘chance’ to see the return of Wladimir. Klitschko will reportedly come out of retirement if DAZN offer £76million.

When Wladimir’s brother Vitali said DAZN have offered $80m (£63m), Vitali quoted his brother saying, as per the Metro: ‘This is not an offer that changes my mind, maybe I’ll start thinking about it at $100m’.

“Why am I feeling like this?”

“This is the biggest shock I have ever seen in my whole days in boxing,” Carl Frampton told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“There are big questions about AJ’s engine now. It will be interesting to see if there any changes made to his team because it is something that would not surprise me.”

Before the seventh and final round, Joshua looked perplexed in his corner and simply said to trainer Rob McCracken: “Why am I feeling like this?”

The 29-year-old had been adamant this fight’s training camp was the one where 10 years in the sport had all come together.

He said lessons were learned from being unwell in the run-up to his last victory and an emphasis had been placed on quality over quantity. His training regime even included work with Navy Seals, who told him how they dealt with being shot in the hope it would help him stay calm if knocked down.

And knocked down he was, four times in all. Those ringside could see all was not well from an early stage as fatigue shone through.

“If Anthony Joshua is healthy and fit as he says he is, then there is something wrong,” said Haye. “He needs something in his camp that he didn’t have.”

The question is what? Joshua has a nutritionist, a psychologist, a strength and conditioning trainer, the experience of McCracken, physios, video analysts – the list goes on.

He runs a lot for a heavyweight, so an engine should be a given. Love or loathe Joshua, for any fighter to be in a ring, exposed and aware they are drowning, is nothing short of lonely.

Could it have been an inner fatigue caused by his countless commercial obligations? He said this week that trying to promote boxing and his US debut “takes so much work”.

Lennox Lewis has admitted he paid for complacency in defeat to Hasim Rahman in 2001. Seven months later Lewis ruthlessly took back his belts.

Joshua has already defended his team and blamed himself. At least if this defeat was indeed down to the mind switching off, history shows it can be corrected.

TNT Sport

Photo Credit: DimensionBits TV

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