Anthony Joshua wanted to ‘fight through concussion’ against Andy Ruiz | Sport

Anthony Joshua wanted to ‘fight through concussion’ against Andy Ruiz | Sport

Original Source

Anthony Joshua has admitted he knew he was concussed but was ready to “fight through” it against Andy Ruiz Jr, fuelling the debate over boxers’ safety that has been reignited this week.

The British heavyweight told the Guardian he felt he was concussed from the moment Ruiz Jr got off the canvas to knock him down in the third round in their bout in New York six months ago. After witnessing three further knockdowns, the referee, Michael Griffin, stopped the fight.

Robert McCracken, Joshua’s trainer, said this week he was aware Joshua was “concussed” for the last four rounds of the fight against the heavy-handed Mexican before clarifying his use of the word following criticism from outside the boxing community.

Joshua, the former three-belt world heavyweight champion who fights Ruiz in a rematch in December, said however that he was prepared to fight on. He was standing upright and seemingly sound in his own corner, his arms draped across the ropes.

“I knew where I was,” Joshua told the Guardian in an interview in New York shortly before McCracken’s comments. “But definitely they call it concussion … That’s what they call it. But I think concussion is a weak term. You’ve got to be stronger than it. You’ve got to fight through the concussion if you can.

“That shot on my head [to the left temple in round three] made it really difficult … If concussion is what they’re calling it, that punch that gave me concussion, made it difficult.”

Returning to the end of the fight, when he was standing in his corner, Joshua added: “I just remember, my hands on the ropes. It’s a practice when I’m training and stuff.

“I went to walk forward a bit. He’s got my hands here [in front of him], went to walk forward a little bit, and he got my hands, so I’ve gone back, like I thought the gumshield was going to go in. I thought there was going to be, like, a fight. If you notice I didn’t even have my gumshield in my mouth. And the fight was called off.”

Following McCracken’s interview with the BBC’s boxing podcast, Luke Griggs, the deputy chief executive of the brain charity Headway, said: “Trainers have a duty of care to their boxers and it seems clear that Anthony Joshua’s trainer’s sole priority was winning that fight, not protecting the fighter from a potentially fatal injury.”

The criticism prompted McCracken – a leading light-middleweight in the 1990s whose only losses came by stoppage in his last two contests – to release a statement and he was subsequently backed by the British Boxing Board of Control.

“I am not a doctor and it may be that concussed is not the right term to have used,” McCracken said in the statement. “The health of all the boxers I work with is of paramount importance to me and I have always used my judgment and experience to do what is right for them.

“There is no formal concussion protocol where the doctor steps in to assess the boxer, so you have to use your experience as a coach and your knowledge of the person to make a decision on whether you think they can recover.

“I have had this a number of times in my career in professional boxing where boxers have recovered from a difficult round to go on and win the fight. I have also pulled boxers out of fights because I knew it was not in their interests to continue.”

Griffin, a Canadian who has refereed 366 bouts since 1997, including many at world level, was right to stop the fight. He judged Joshua was not fit to continue.

Joshua had taken intermittent punishment, in short bursts, without Ruiz landing a punch that definitively would keep him on the canvas. They were messy exchanges, but their effect was cumulative. That is what Griffin saw in Joshua’s eyes.

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