Even the man considered by many as the greatest boxer of all time lost fights.
Muhammad Ali wasn’t invincible. He was beaten on five occasions. And so many of the iconic heavyweights that will be revered forever have tasted the pain of defeat.
Mike Tyson. Joe Frazier. Wladimir Klitschko. George Foreman. The list goes on. So it’s fair to say Anthony Joshua is in outstanding company.
It will do little to ease the pain in the coming days and months for AJ after one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
But it’s worth remembering that the defeat, his first, to Andy Ruiz Jr that has sent shockwaves through boxing and the sporting world does not need to define the former three-belt world champion’s career.
The defeat won’t be forgotten. Ever. Nor should it – that’s not fair on Ruiz who was a fill-in, the biggest of underdogs and now a world champion for the rest of time. Yet it’s how AJ bounces back that matters most.
Eddie Hearn has announced the rematch, simply a must-win, is set for November or December.
And his British icon only needs to take inspiration from one who became adored in the squared circle before him to know that it’s not game over for his hopes of even more sporting greatness.
Lennox Lewis, a dominant champion like AJ, was humbled by Hasim Rahman in 2001 yet went on to win the rematch.
Joshua’s cloak of invisibility may be gone but his glory days do not need to disappear.
Of course there’s plenty to work on and all sorts of questions to be answered. Did he underestimate Ruiz? Was the future and fights against Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury focused on more than the here and the now? Did efforts to crack America commercially take too much out of the former Olympian? Hearn may have denied it, but did anything untoward – such as a pre-bout knockout during sparring or a pre-fight panic attack – throw the champ off course?
Or, perhaps, as AJ says, was he just beaten by the man who performed better on the night? Ruiz picked himself off the canvas in the third to return the compliment twice in the same round and then two more times in the seventh to create history.
Joshua has been rocked before and some could say this defeat was coming. Yet it’s how he’ll react that will show whether he’s a true champion or not – especially if he wants to secure a long-lasting legacy.
Hate to say I told you so
Admittedly I wrote it before Spurs’ staggering comeback against Ajax.
But I did state that Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final heroics against Barcelona made me feel their name was on the trophy.
That was certainly the case on Saturday when Jurgen Klopp’s heroes beat Tottenham 2-0 to make it six European Cup triumphs. As a Manchester United fan it’s hard to admit, but they really are a special club who are back on the up in a huge way.
It hurts but this is how it felt being a Liverpool fan during my youth while we enjoyed untold success.
And just how it felt being a United fan in the 70s/80s when they did.
Luckily I wasn’t alive then to live through it!
Keep your eyes peeled
Coming soon: Plans are afoot to host the second Caney’s Corner Live after the big success of the first show, which featured Norwich City legends Iwan Roberts and Darren Huckerby.
So watch this space for an announcement in the next few weeks to make sure you get your hands on tickets before they sell out.