Rumours have surfaced suggesting that Anthony Joshua may have been KOd in sparring before his stunning downfall at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr on Saturday night.
The 29-year-old was decked four times, causing the referee to call a halt to the contest and crown a new heavyweight king at MSG in New York.
Many have suggested Joshua looked far from his best in the fight, even before being hit with the big left hook in round three, which began the sequence of events leading to his stoppage loss.
Renowned boxing expert Gareth A Davies reinforced these claims, telling talkSPORT: “There are stories that, potentially and possibly, Anthony Joshua had been sparring and had been hurt in sparring leading up to the fight.
“He had a problem with his eye coming into the fight, he had marks on his nose, the cut on his nose, swelling on one part of his face as well.
“And there is some – and these are just rumours at the moment – he might have been knocked out in sparring heading into the fight.
“Maybe he was still suffering the effects from that.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn vowed to invoke the rematch clause in Ruiz Jr’s contract in the immediate aftermath of the defeat.
He said: “The rematch will be in the UK in November or December. Now we’ll see what AJ is about, this will be a big rematch but Ruiz deserves it.”
Former WBC champion Frank Bruno noted on Twitter that Joshua said “why am I feeling like this?” during one of the rounds, suggesting an issue behind his loss.
However, the man himself was offering no excuses after the loss and instead chose to give Ruiz Jr all of the credit.
“I got beaten by a good fighter,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how far he goes, but this is all part of the journey.
“He’s a champion for now, I shall return.”
Meanwhile, former IBF cruiserweight champion Glenn McCrory thinks this could be it for the 29-year-old.
“He’s bottom of the pile. He got beaten up by Andy Ruiz,” McCrory told talkSPORT.
“I think he’s finished. It’s not just the defeat, anybody can get defeated, but the nature of it,” adding he ‘let the nation down’.