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Hearn: ‘Joshua has a FUTURE, win, lose or draw’ – Dillian Whyte permitted to fight

Anthony Joshua

By Charles Brun: A defiant sounding Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn insists that former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s career won’t end on Saturday night if he loses to Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia. Although Hearn believes Joshua will win no problem, he still thinks his career will survive even if he loses the fight.

(Photo credit Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing)

Hearn does sound worried though. You can hear it in his tone that there’s concern in the back of his mind for what happens with Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) if he gets upended again multiple times by Ruiz, and winds up quitting like he did last June.

Hearn: Joshua’s career won’t be over if he loses

“I don’t mind the pressure in that, because I quite like him under pressure, because I think he performs,” said Hearn when told that boxing fans think Joshua’s career will be over if he loses to Andy.. “But when you talk about a fighter with 24 fights, that has lost to one man, and unified the heavyweight world title twice, he’s got a lot of improvements to make.

“He’s getting better and better. Don’t write him off yet. We don’t want to think about losing. To me, he has a future win, lose or draw, but the only thing that matters is to win. That’s the only thing he’s focused on,” said Hearn.

Joshua can’t keep losing like that without causing a percentage of boxing fans from abandoning him, and no longer purchasing his fights on pay-per-view. But as we’ve seen in the case of Dillian Whyte, Amir Khan and Dereck Chisora, fans won’t give up on Joshua.

There aren’t a lot of heavyweights in the division that are capable of doing what Ruiz did to Joshua. The chances of Joshua continuing to suffer defeats after his rematch with Ruiz are slim. Hearn won’t let that happen to him, because he’ll make sure he doesn’t put him in with guys that can beat him.

This isn’t just about Joshua. it’s also about Hearn, because Joshua makes him money. Hearn isn’t going to mess up the money train by throwing Joshua into the ring with Deontay Wilder or a Luis Ortiz if he loses to Ruiz on Saturday.

4,000 Brits coming to watch Joshua fight Ruiz in Saudi

“There will be 15,000 on Saturday, and there will be 4,000 Brits, and there will be a couple of thousand other nationalities, and the rest will be locals,” said Hearn to Fighthub. “Yeah, it’ll be completely filled up.

‘We’re not even involved in the tickets. We know the sales, and we know there’s 4,000 Brits coming. Not just from the UK, but from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the expat community. I think he took a little time to reflect,” said Hearn in talking about Joshua.

If this is true what Hearn says about the 15.000 attendance for the fight, Ruiz will have almost zero fan support on Saturday in Saudi. By Hearn stating the Joshua-Ruiz 2 rematch in Saudi Arabia, it means very few if Ruiz’s fans will be making the trip.

You’ve got to figure that the local Saudi fans will be supporting Joshua, not Ruiz. So you can lump those fans in with the 4,000 Brits that’ll be supporting Joshua. As for the 2,000 fans from other nationalities, those could be pro Joshua as well. Ruiz will be lucky if he has 1,000 boxing fans supporting him on Saturday. As such, Hearn was clever sticking the rematch in Saudi, because Ruiz’s fans won’t be making the trip in high numbers. But, Joshua needs as much support as possible to make sure he doesn’t lose again.

Here’s the attendance numbers broken down by Hearn:

  • 4,000 British fans
  • 9,000 Saudi fans
  • 2,000 fans from other nationalities

Joshua used his loss to Ruiz as motivation

“He was gutted. He’s a competitor.  Don’t be fooled by his arm around the shoulder respect to Andy Ruiz.,” said Hearn about Joshua’s reaction to his loss. “Just because he didn’t sulk, and run out of the ring, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t hurt inside.

“He was gutted that he lost, but he’s used that as motivation to become a two-time heavyweight champion, and try and improve. And once he got that in his mind, he’s become truly focused,” said Hearn. 

It’s reasonable to believe that Joshua was highly motivated during training camp to get in the best shape possible for the rematch, but that’s not a guarantee of victory. Ruiz beat Joshua with his combination, punching, a great chin, pressure and the superior engine. If Ruiz has the same thing going for him in the rematch, then it probably won’t matter how motivated Joshua was for his training.

With Ruiz fighting in a venue that favors Joshua, you can’t rule out questionable scoring. Ruiz will be looking to take the judges out of the equation through by knocking out Joshua. Hopefully, the referee does a good job. It would be bad for boxing if the referee is seen pulling Ruiz off of Joshua all night like the one that worked the Joshua vs. Joseph Parker fight. That didn’t look like a real fight.

Joshua has a chip on his shoulder now – Hearn

“The difference in Anthony Joshua now, and the Anthony Joshua in New York, and the Anthony Joshua that has a chip on his shoulder, who is talking about hurting Andy Ruiz,” said Hearn. “That’s the AJ that I like, and the AJ that he was when I first signed him. It’s very difficult to lose that edge when you’ve got people patting you on the shoulder, telling you that you’re the greatest.

“Now you’ve got people doubting you’ve got people criticizing you. Now you’ve got the element where his back is against the wall, and he’s dangerous His preparation couldn’t have gone better, and he’s in great shape, he’s in a great frame of mind, but it’s a very tough fight. It’s going to be a thriller,” said Hearn about the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch,” said Hearn.

Joshua does seem embittered by the experience of losing to Ruiz, and he’s not exactly sounding like the loss didn’t affect him mentally. He’s dropped his nice guy persona, and is showing a side that boxing fans haven’t seen.

Hearn seems to think it’s a positive that Joshua has a chip on his shoulder, but that may not be. If he’s not calm in the mind, then he could fight poorly on Saturday night by making the wrong decisions inside the ring. Joshua can’t beat Ruiz if he’s acting on emotion.

Whyte isn’t suspended or banned – Hearn

“He had to be cleared by the British Boxing Board of Control to take this fight, and he has been because he’s not suspended. He’s free to box,” said Hearn about Dillian Whyte’s fight against Mariusz Wach on Saturday. “The frustrating thing is to wait for UKAD to issue a public statement on what happened, and their findings and whatever that might be. He’s had his hearing, he was cleared to fight, and that fight was five months ago.

“He’s got to fight. He can’t just sit around and wait on UKAD. They’ve got to speed up their process. They’ve already done that in respect of having a hearing. They cleared him to box. If they think that’s the case, they wouldn’t have and shouldn’t have cleared him to box. They have their reasons for that, and we know those reasons.

“We want them to make it public, because it’ll give the public information they need. But in the meantime, you can’t expect Dillian to just sit on his backside waiting for someone to issue a statement about why he’s been cleared. He’s been cleared, he’s free to box, get on with your career, and he needs to look good on Saturday against Mariusz Wach. It’s very damaging, but he’s not a Golden Boy. He’s a rough, ready geezer from Brixton, who can really have a tear up,” said Hearn.

The boxing public wants to see the results of Whyte’s B-sample from UKAD. Hearn is sounding confident that UKAD will clear him. Who knows? Perhaps they can. If they saw it was an issue of contamination that led to Whyte’s adverse findings, then they can clear him. Fans don’t know at what percentage Whyte tested positive for his test.

Hearn counting on Whyte’s performance against Wach speeding up UKAD’s case

“He’s been through a process that has hurt him personally, mentally, but he’s a very strong individual,” said Hearn about Whyte. “And he’s come through that. He’s gone through all the channels he was asked to go through to attend a hearing, supply all the information, have all the VADA tests. He provided all that information, and he was cleared to box.

“You don’t clear a man to box if there’s doubt or if there’s suspicion in my opinion of him cheating. So let’s get that out there, and let’s get UKAD to make that statement, and let’s get people to get off his back. But right now, you have no choice but to let him fight, because he’s not suspended. He was cleared. But it’s frustrating to have this conversation.

“I’m hoping this fight [Whyte vs. Wach] can kind of spur them into action to deal with the matter quicker. But you saw with Ryan Martin, he boxed a year ago and failed a drug test, and they’ve just announced their decision a year later. To me, it’s ludicrous for them to take so long,” said Hearn.

If it took one year for UKAD to conclude the Ryan Martin case, then it’s likely that they won’t reach a finding on Whyte’s case until the one-year mark. That could mean that boxing fans won’t find out the results of Whyte’s B-sample until July 2020,  if then.

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