WE have by now heard a litany of excuses for Anthony Joshua’s stunning upset loss at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jnr on Saturday (June 1). All have been flatly denied by promoter Eddie Hearn but are nevertheless fascinating and have ranged from Joshua getting knocked out in sparring, suffering pre-fight anxiety attacks and being replaced by a doppelgänger to simply underestimating his shorter, chubbier opponent, dreaming of Deontay Wilder, being distracted by 30 cheerleaders vying to massage his ego, and taking his eye off the ball.
But there is, according to bitter rival Dillian Whyte, another reason Joshua may have struggled recapturing his old form at Madison Square Garden, New York.
“Joshua could be heard on camera asking his trainer Rob McCracken, ‘Why do I feel like this?’ after the sixth round,” Whyte told his YouTube channel.
“It is because you’re in America with the VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) testing and you’re not on the juice, that’s why.
“It’s harder to get therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) in America than the UK, that’s why.”
This is not the first time Whyte has levelled drug-taking accusations at Joshua, and on Sunday he responded to Joshua’s defeat on Sunday by posting a video of The Verge song ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’.
However, it’s also worth remembering Whyte himself has served a two-year ban for failing a performance-enhancing drug test.
Moreover, the team behind Joshua insist their man was tested as stringently for the Ruiz fight as he had been for any other.
“These comments are 100 per cent false,” a spokesman for Joshua told The Mirror.
“Anthony is one of the most tested athletes in sport and has been VADA and UKAD (UK Anti-Doping) tested in the UK for all of his fights.
“He was tested as much in the States as he has been in the UK for every fight.”
Forget the excuses and the mudslinging. In the end, the jabs and left hooks of Andy Ruiz were Anthony Joshua’s biggest problem at Madison Square Garden last weekend. They unsettled him, they wobbled him, and they eventually separated him from his WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight titles.
Alas, Ruiz, the underdog of all underdogs, will probably have to repeat his victory for him to receive credit for becoming the unlikeliest of world heavyweight champions. Until then, it’s very much a case of what Joshua did wrong rather than what Ruiz did right.
In keeping with her relentless fighting style, Belgium’s Delfine Persoon is not going to take her defeat to Katie Taylor lying down.
The former WBC lightweight champion was considered by many to have been unlucky not to keep her title following Saturday’s unification war with WBA, IBF and WBO champion Taylor. She put up an aggressive and spirited effort, hurting Taylor on more than one occasion, but succumbed to a split-decision verdict on the scorecards, one she is now looking to contest.
“We were prevented from writing a beautiful page in the history of boxing,” Persoon told Sudpresse at sudinfo.be. “Today everyone has seen and everyone knows that is a shame.
“In my eyes it’s not a defeat. What we will do now is of course make a complaint, but without much hope because Belgian boxing does not weigh heavy in the instances.
“But with my coach, we will quietly analyse this fight sequence by sequence, to have all the arguments to present an unassailable file.”
It would be a shame if Persoon lost out on opportunities – either to win fights or protest losing ones she felt she won – due to her nationality, but, certainly, in the case of Saturday’s fight, the stars seemed to align for Taylor, the darling of Irish boxing, to unify the women’s lightweight division. All we can hope for now is the two get the chance to do it again.
“I don’t think Taylor wants to take that risk,” Persoon, 34, said when speaking to Belgian outlet Sporza. “Her team will argue that she has passed me by. She will not give me another chance.”
Taylor, though, sounds receptive to the idea of running back what was one of the best female fights of all time. Eddie Hearn, her promoter, told Balls.IE: “She (Taylor) said to me ‘If there’s any doubt that I didn’t win the fight we’ve got to do it again.’ She asked me (what I thought), I told her I had it a draw, and she turned around and said, ‘We’ve got to do it again.’”
In a division short on depth and competition, Katie Taylor may have just found her big rival. Let’s hope so.