Timothy Moten couldn’t help but wonder what if?
After witnessingAnthony Joshuabe dismantled by Andy Ruiz Jnr in seven breathtaking and brutally captivating rounds at Madison Square Garden, his mind raced.
He may have only been a four-fight novice pro at the time, and more accustomed to fighting in the dingy downtown halls and fairgrounds of Kentucky than under the bright lights of the Big Apple, but deep down was a gut-feeling he could have had part part to play in the circus of this heavyweight upset for the ages.
Timothy Moten went to drastic lengths to help Anthony Joshua prepare for Andy Ruiz Jnr fight
Moten (L) pictured with Joshua in his camp at the England Institute of Sport in Sheffield
Moten had studied Ruiz Jnr closely since 2012 and watched countless videos of his previous fights, trying to unlock the secrets of his success against men significantly bigger than himself, and picking up tricks of the trade here and there. As a squat heavyweight with his own ambitions, it seemed like a productive way to spend his spare time more than anything else.
But when the Mexican was announced as Joshua’s late replacement for Jarrell Miller following his failed drugs test, he heard the sound of opportunity knocking.
‘I just thought at the time, “I have got to get into camp. No matter what it takes, I have to get into camp” , ‘he tellsSportsmail.
By the time Ruiz stepped in to save the show as it was described , Joshua had just four weeks left to adapt to a fighter whose physique and style was considerably different to Miller’s.
Moten offered his services to AJ before his shock loss to Ruiz Jnr at Madison Square Garden
Moten wrote to Eddie Hearn and several members of Joshua’s team informing them that not only was his stature similar to Ruiz’s but that he also fought like him in the way he applied constant pressure, bobbed his head and threw his punches in bunches. He was convinced they’d require his services. He never received a reply.
Four weeks later, with Britain’s world champion felled, Moten found himself bedevilled by a nagging sense he could have helped despite never being given the chance.
A major investigation on all fronts to try and decipher why Joshua’s American debut had gone so off script followed. There were rumors of Joshua being knocked out in sparring in the days leading up to the fight and whispers that he may have suffered a panic attack in the dressing room. Then there were claims that Joshua simply underestimated Ruiz. As horribly misleading as his rotund appearance was, Moten does not think that was the case and believes the real reason was more logical than dramatic.
‘He was under prepared. He spent the majority of the time in camp training to face a six foot four 300 lb behemoth in Miller and not a six foot heavyweight with fast hands, ‘Moten says.
The American boxer has studied Ruiz Jnr’s fights closely for the best part of seven years
He is a squat heavyweight himself and watched Ruiz’s fights to try and pick up tricks from him
‘That’s why I really felt like if I had been in camp the first time, it would have been that much better and he possibly could have won.
‘ I wanted him to win. I have always been an Anthony Joshua fan and hoped he would one day go on to fight Deontay Wilder and cement his legacy. ‘
But that ill-fated night at Madison Square Garden – which temporarily suspended any talk of Joshua and Wilder fighting – would be a blessing in disguise for Moten. After being battered from pillar to post and stripped of his world titles by the pugnacious Ruiz Jnr, Joshua sought immediate revenge.
There was that knock again. ‘When he lost it was bittersweet, because I knew they would fight again,’ he says.
‘As soon as the rematch was announced, I got straight on Instagram and Facebook and I asked for everyone I know to post on Eddie Hearn’s page and Joshua’s page for me. ‘
Moten felt if he had been in camp with Joshua for the first fight, the Brit might have not lost
If there was any trace of ambivalence in his mind about whether or not he’d be given the time of day, it was being effectively countered by an implacable hunch. Not that he was leaving it to chance.
Having not heard anything back for weeks, he resorted to doing some detective work. ‘I googled him and found lots of pictures when he unified the titles. I looked to see firstly who he was with and then I looked to see who he seemed close with in terms of friendship wise, who he was hugging or smiling with, the people who were near him in every picture, that kind of thing. That’s how I worked out who would be best to write to.
‘I saw David Ghansa (childhood friend and now camp manager) had his arms around him so I went and found him on social media. I realized that he didn’t have too big of a following that he wouldn’t be able to see my messages. So, I got in contact and told my fans back home, family and friends to message him for me as well. I sent them lots of footage of me fighting and eventually I got a message from Eddie Hearn, saying: “We like what we see, we will be in touch”. ’So, what happened next?
‘I got a call from Ghansa and he said “Can you fly out to the UK the next week” I said: “I haven’t got a passport but I will get one, I will be there. ”The average American doesn’t really have a passport lying around but my fiancée worked at the airport so she found a flight for me to Chicago where I could go and pick one up in person.
He felt compelled to reach out to Joshua’s team again after the rematch was announced
‘I flew there the next day so I could get my passport and I waited six hours for it. I spoke to Joshua’s team again and let them know it was all sorted and then they paid for me to fly out to the UK. I sparred Joshua the first week I was there. We did 12 rounds, six one day and six on another and I’ve been in camp ever since. ‘
Little did Moten know that his trip halfway round the world could have ended in that first week, until later on when he discovered the frightening truth about the precariousness of his position.
‘They told me that the longest somebody has stayed with Joshua in camp is about three and a half weeks, so when I hit the mark of being the first person to be there for the four weeks of sparring, they actually told me that wasn’t the plan as I was initially only on a week trial.
‘I dropped everything for this, when I found out he said I was flying out next week, I had saved up enough money for the previous two weeks because I had a feeling I was going to be in this camp, so me and my fiancée worked double shifts and saved up enough money for rent the following month and I quit my job. The day my flight was, I quit my job as a carpet cleaner, jumped on a plane and came here and sparred my butt off that first week.
‘I didn’t know I could have been going home straight away, I would have had to plead for my job back, but fortunately my hard work paid off and they have kept me here the whole camp. ‘
Moten (M) quit his job as a carpet cleaner and traveled to Sheffield to be part of AJ’s camp
When asked why he didn’t give quitting his job a second thought, and persevered to the point it almost became obsessive, just for the chance to be in Joshua’s training camp, he laughs.
‘It’s Joshua man,’ Moten answers with an emphasis. ‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and this is one of the biggest events in heavyweight boxing history, I’m blessed to even be a small part of that.
‘ It’s been such a great experience and I’m grateful for it. I’ve learned so much and made so many good relationships with people. Anthony, his whole team, they are my brothers now.
‘The motivation for me was two-fold. I want AJ to win, I’m a fan of his and I thought I could help. But I also wanted to test myself, see if I could mix it with the best and hold my own and I’ve learned so much about myself in these three months that I can take away with me. ‘
He posted on Facebook recently asking if anyone had seen his fiancée and had checked if she was still marrying him. It was intended as a joke but it doubled up as a reminder of what he’s left behind to grab his chance.
Joshua’s sparring has been tailored for Ruiz Jnr and Eddie Hearn feels it will be the difference
For an unknown heavyweight from across the pond these are few and far between. His journey has not been a conventional one, from Kentucky via Sheffield to Saudi Arabia, but if it can end with a win for Joshua, then that would be a handsome return for the risks he has had to take betting on himself getting here.
Of all the tweaks Joshua has made as he looks to right the wrongs of his first professional defeat, his promoter Hearn says the tailored sparring for Ruiz will prove to have been most beneficial.
Moten was one of the small team of heavyweights airlifted into the England Institute of Sport in Sheffield 12 weeks ago to help equip Joshua to face his tormentor once more.
And if it emerges that he has had the smallest of bearings on the most monumental of fights, it would mean the world.
He has been wondering. And on Saturday, he’ll have his answer.
Victory for Joshua on Saturday night would be handsome return for Moten’s sacrifices to help