Devastated Anthony Joshua has vowed to come back stronger after suffering a stunning first professional defeat on his US debut.
Joshua was stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden, losing his WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO world heavyweight belts in one of boxing’s great upsets.
Entering the fight as 1/20 odds-on favourite against late replacement Ruiz, nobody saw Joshua’s unblemished record coming to a shock end.
The Watford-born heavyweight declared “boxing’s a tough sport” in the immediate aftermath of the worst night of his career.
But he insisted the defeat is “all part of the legacy” as he looks to respond with a rematch expected in the UK at the end of this year.
Joshua told Sky Sports Box Office: “Boxing is a tough sport, but I train hard and I got beaten by a good fighter, it will be interesting to see how far he goes, but this is all part of the journey.
“Congratulations to the first Mexican heavyweight champion. We bounce back.
“I’m a fighter by heart, boxer by trade, it has got people talking and there’s more life in the heavyweight division.
“This is the risk we take, every fighter deserves respect so congratulations to him. I respect every fighter, this is all part of the legacy, it’s how strong I came back. He’s a champion for now, I shall return.”
Joshua put Ruiz down early in the third round but was caught by the challenger as he went in for the kill.
He never really recovered from hitting the canvas for just the second time in his career – and he revealed how his knockdown was different to the time he was caught by Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley.
He explained: “When your legs are all over your gaff, you are trying to stabalise.
“This is the first fight like that. Against Klitschko, I was just tired.”
After losing his heavyweight title belts, Joshua is expected to activate his rematch clause with Ruiz with Eddie Hearn declaring he expects the fight to take place in November or December.