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Eddie Hearn plays down reports Anthony Joshua was knocked out in sparring before shock Andy Ruiz Jr. defeat

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Eddie Hearn has dismissed reports that Anthony Joshua was knocked out in sparring prior to his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. and insists nothing untoward happened before the fight.

AJ was knocked down four times on a dramatic night at Madison Square Garden as he lost his WBA (Super), WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight belts to the unfancied Mexican.

Joshua looked out of sorts throughout, while his delay in entering the ring – coupled with a number of cuts and bruising on his face prior to fight night – caused speculation that his preparation had been disrupted.

It has now been claimed by World Boxing News that AJ was in fact badly hurt in a sparring session with 5’10” heavyweight Joey Dawejko, who is nicknamed ‘Tank’, in the build-up to the fight.

However, Joshua’s promoter Hearn has moved quickly to quell the rumours on Twitter, brandishing the report ‘fake news’, and insists the 29-year-old was perfectly fine to fight.

Replying to a fan who claimed Joshua had suffered a panic attack in the locker room, Hearn replied: ‘Panic attack? I’ve heard all sorts of rumours – there was no issue at all going into the fight.

‘Absolutely [he lost fair and square] – now it’s time to get those belts back!’

WBN initially claimed a different fighter, Agit Kabayel, had been responsible for knocking down AJ in sparring, but Hearn shot that down immediately, saying: ‘He wasn’t even in camp.’

On why Joshua was delayed entering the ring, he added: ‘He changed his groin guard.’

Speaking on talkSPORT straight after the fight, Hearn also said: ‘I’d like to tell you he [AJ] had a terrible camp, he wasn’t focused, but I didn’t see that. He worked very hard in training as he always does.

‘I think it was a huge shock for everybody, AJ was probably the calmest person of everybody.‘I even said to him today, “People said you didn’t look right.” [He replied]: “I was fine, I just got beat, I just got beat by the better man on the night, I got hit by a shot that I didn’t recover from and that’s it. Let’s go again, back to work.”

Source: Metro UK

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