Tony Bellew has leapt to the defence of Anthony Joshua and appeared to hit back at Deontay Wilder for his reaction following the Brit’s shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua suffered one of the biggest shocks in boxing history on Saturday as he was beaten by the 19 stone 2lbs Mexican on his debut fight in the US.
The British star was floored four times in Madison Square Garden, which led to the referee ending the fight in the seventh-round and Ruiz winning the IBF, WBO and WBA titles by TKO.
A host of boxing royalty offered words of comfort to Joshua following his first professional defeat, but there was no such sympathy from WBC champion Wilder.
And Bellew has slammed Joshua’s critics for ‘kicking a man when he’s down’ and insisted AJ will bounce back.
“You shouldn’t write anyone off, and I think it’s disgraceful there are people out there kicking a man when he’s down,” the former cruiserweight champions said on Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.
“This is probably the most humble and honest kid I’ve ever met in boxing.
“He’s been king of the world and still wants to go out there to help and give other people opportunities.
“People in boxing should thank their lucky stars that he’s around and involved, because the commercial value in boxing now in unprecedented in this country, it’s never been seen before.
“We’ve never been able to make as much money and a huge factor of that is down to Anthony Joshua.”
Despite suffering the first defeat of his professional career, Bellew expects Joshua to be back fighting at the top of his game soon enough – just like British boxing legend Lennox Lewis.
“The is heavyweight boxing – anyone goes off one clean punch,” he added. “You can’t weigh 19st 3lbs, take one on the head and not expect anything to happen.
“He was 100 per cent concussed in the ring. From round three onwards he was fighting purely on bottle and spirit. The third round knockout was really heavy and he never recovered from it.
“But show me a heavyweight alive who hasn’t been hurt.
“I’m sure we’ve seen Tyson Fury hurt on the floor off a cruiserweight in Steve Cunningham, I’m sure we’ve seen Dillian Whyte hurt off the likes of Joseph Parker.
“Everybody gets hurt in boxing. There is not a fighter alive who has ever put gloves on who hasn’t been hurt.
“Yes there are issues to address, but every fighter has weaknesses and I’m sure he will address them.
“One thing he’s got going for him is he is a fantastic athlete. He’s the best athlete in the heavyweight division – that goes without saying.
“Is he the best boxing? Absolutely not, no. Is he the finished article? No. He’s not Lennox Lewis.
“But he’s still a very good fighter. The guy is still an Olympic champion and if he goes into the rematch he can be a unified world champion again.
“Was it a shock when Lennox Lewis lost to Oliver McCall? Yes it was, but he came back.
“Was it a shock when he lost to Hasim Rahman and he was the finished article? Yes it was, but he came back.
“So we shouldn’t write AJ off.”