MAKE no mistake about it that even if Anthony Joshua beats Andy Ruiz in style when they rematch on December 7, the loss to him last June has caused irreparable damage that can’t be erased in the encore. Until that loss Joshua might not have been the best heavyweight on the planet but he was certainly the most relevant. Simply put, Joshua was the MAN. Everything in the heavyweight division had revolved around him. Everyone from Tyson Fury to Deontay Wilder needed to do business with Joshua more than he needed to do it with them. But even a victory over Ruiz in Saudi Arabia, won’t put Joshua on the lofty perch he was before. For the first time he will find himself on equal footing with Wilder and Fury, no longer able to dictate the terms of a fight between them as before. This is not to say that if Joshua regains the throne that Eddie Hearn can’t display him in Wembley Stadium or another major venue against someone else beside the big two, but it would infuriate even his own fan base who won’t buy into the excuse that Fury and Wilder are ducking him. And if the two box next spring as indications are they will, the winner will have a stronger claim to being called the world heavyweight champion than does Joshua regardless of how good he might look against Ruiz.
One way or the other, if Joshua regains his titles he will have little choice but to meet Fury or Wilder some time in 2020. That much is obvious, but what becomes of Joshua if he should lose the rematch with Ruiz? We examine 10 options below:
JOSHUA WILL RETIRE:
You get the feeling that Joshua boxes not because he enjoys it, but because of the financial rewards he derives. With enough money to last him a lifetime, one can easily see Joshua walking away from the sport if he were to lose to Ruiz again.
Three years ago, Joshua spoke of the dangers of boxing and worried about the long term physical effects it could have on him. That was before he was concussed in the Ruiz match. If anything his fears have now increased.
Joshua did not seem too outwardly upset when losing to Ruiz in Madison Square Garden. He looked relieved to an extent. One can easily see him smiling in the ring following another defeat and announcing his retirement then and there.
JOSHUA WILL RETIRE AND THEN MAKE A COMEBACK:
We all know that retirements in boxing rarely stick when a fighter announces one at a relatively young age. Although Joshua (29) would not have retired on top, he still would basically be in his prime if he took a year or two off and then decided to make a comeback. And Joshua’s pride should be considered. Even though Joshua could walk away financially secure his legacy would be tarnished beyond repair if he never fought again following a second defeat to Ruiz. Judging by the way Joshua has gotten into a public spat with Lennox Lewis he very much cares what people think.
As comfortable as AJ might be in retirement he like many others before him, would miss the limelight. That alone could bring him back to the ring.
JOSHUA WON’T REST UNTIL HE GETS HIS REVENGE ON RUIZ:
Having something haunt you is not pleasant, but it’s worse if it’s a certain individual. While Joshua does not seem like a vindictive man, the specter of Ruiz hanging over his life is something he would be highly motivated to get rid of.
Two losses in a row to Ruiz would eat at Joshua especially when you consider his Adonis type of physique compared to the Mexican’s. Although it might take time to get Ruiz into the ring again, setting the record straight in a third fight might keep Joshua highly motivated to box at top level so he can erase the demons of his bogeyman.
JOSHUA WILL EASE HIS WAY BACK TO ANOTHER TITLE SHOT:
It all depends on how Joshua loses again. If he performs dreadfully and is beaten badly then regrouping will be a delicate chore. For Eddie Hearn the job would be not only to restore Joshua’s confidence, but to build him up as an attraction again. In essence, Joshua would have to start over, having nondescript fights in smaller venues or on the undercard of big shows. The money would be considerably less than what he is accustomed to.
The question should not be whether Joshua is willing to go that route, but whether he would have any other choice?
DERECK CHISORA VS ANTHONY JOSHUA:
This would be the perfect fight for Joshua if he continued his career in the role of a challenger. Even with diminished status and no title to defend, Wembley Stadium would be rocking if Joshua were to take on the divisions bad boy Dereck Chisora in an all British showdown. Being that they have never fought the other it would not necessarily be considered a step back for Joshua.
As a domestic matchup it would be one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory. Although Chisora has been through the mill he is still respected enough that a decisive victory by Joshua would make waves internationally as well. It would also restore a lot of Joshua’s lost confidence and make the public clamor to see more of him again. There would also be redeeming value in a loss to Chisora in that it would convince Joshua there was no point in continuing his career.
JOSHUA WILL WAIT FOR FURY OR WILDER TO COME TO HIM:
The consensus is that another defeat by Ruiz would knock Joshua out of the title picture, but would it really? If you look at some of the names in the lower part of the top 10 of the heavyweight division it would be hard to argue that even with two losses in a row, Joshua would not be as deserving of a world rating as they were. And if Joshua were rated then he would be in line to box for a world championship.
Wilder especially would not want to reward Joshua with a title shot considering their history, but at the end of the day money rules. Outside of boxing each other, Joshua is far and away Fury and Wilder’s most lucrative option. For that reason they will continue to pursue Joshua whether he holds a title or not.
JOSHUA WILL COZY UP TO THE SANCTIONING BODIES:
World champions are delusional when they talk of unifying a title. On the surface it sounds noble but is not realistic. Each sanctioning body wants its own champion. In the rare instances when a champion is able to unify all the belts at least one sanctioning group will inevitably strip him of it’s crown soon after.
Joshua is good for business. Between the WBA, WBC, WBO, and IBF all would probably prefer seeing him as their champion. The sanctioning fees would be greater with Joshua as champion than they would for any other belt holder. Joshua maintaining a close relationship with them would certainly help his cause as well as theirs.
JOSHUA WILL GO INTO SECLUSION:
If Joshua is sensitive over the criticism of the first Ruiz loss, a second might be utterly unbearable to take. And if that is the case he might shut himself off from everyone.
In this day and age of social media it is hard to put on a disguise and slip out the back door such as Floyd Patterson did after the two one round annihilations at the hands of Sonny Liston. However, Joshua would not be obligated to give interviews after leaving the arena. He could very well shut himself off from public view. The paparazzi would have a field day with that, making Joshua relevant while he decides his next move.
JOSHUA WILL JOIN THE UFC:
Dana White the president of the UFC had previously tried to lure Joshua into signing with the UFC by offering a reported deal in the neighborhood of a few hundred million. Joshua expressed interest, before ultimately turned the offer down.
However, the idea of squaring off in the Octagon intrigued him greatly.
It would have been hard to leave boxing for another form of martial arts while still on top, but another loss to Ruiz would allow Joshua to not only move on to the UFC, but would create a new audience where he could recapture his stardom.
JOSHUA WILL JOIN THE WWE:
There is a history of world heavyweight champions entering the world of professional wrestling when their boxing days are over. For Joshua it could afford him a home that he is comfortable in. Unlike boxing and the UFC where Joshua would be pressured to perform in real competition, the WWE’s matches are choreographed. Whether it be as the villain, hero, or both, Joshua can be made into a global star with the right marketing by WWE honcho Vince McMahon. Who knows, as crazy as it appears there is a possibility that Joshua could bear matched against Fury for the WWE championship…