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Heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua is putting in the work ahead of his December title defense against Kubrat Pulev, but some fans are wondering if footage of him showing off a labored uppercut is designed to throw off his opponent.

Joshua’s fight against Bulgaria’s Pulev has been rescheduled for the end of the year after being delayed due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, with the English WBO, WBF and IBO titleholder hoping to parlay victory in that fight into a winner-takes-all “Battle of Britain” with Tyson Fury in 2021.

Footage posted to Twitter by Matchroom Boxing shows a ripped Joshua working the pads as he drills a right uppercut/left hook combo – but some fans are wondering if the glimpse into his techniques is designed to throw off his future opponents, based on the somewhat telegraphed nature of the strikes. 

Some fans were taken aback by Joshua’s power and physique, but others were left questioning whether the Brit is indeed attempting to troll the online boxing community, with one even suggesting that his sparring more resembles ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith rather than an elite heavyweight athlete.

When have you EVER seen AJ throw an uppercut like this? 🤣Even Stevie Wonder can see it coming!The man is trolling and I bet twitter bites!! https://t.co/AiadHFb08H

Okay Stephen A Smith we see you 😂🔥 pic.twitter.com/L2yT5rv2si

Finchley ABC Hype Man 🔥 pic.twitter.com/VKJKquXgnb

There was further mixed reaction online. One fan stated that, “This is why Anthony Joshua is the greatest boxer of all time” while another was less convinced, describing the clip as “slow and awkward.”

Meanwhile, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, says that the December clash with Pulev will go ahead but will take place behind closed doors. Hearn was central to the return of boxing in the UK this summer, holding a sequence of events on the grounds of his family estate in Essex. 

However, plans for fans to be allowed to attend upcoming events were dashed on Tuesday when it was announced by the British government that they are pulling back plans to allow moderated indoor events to take place attended by the general public. 

“Obviously today’s announcement is a massive challenge for everyone in sport,” Hearn told the Daily Mail. 

“Our intention now is (to) carry on with all our scheduled events.

“Clearly the finances are affected by not having crowds, even smaller crowds, but we’re working to keep our schedule. That includes Joshua. You have two options – cancel or go ahead, quite possibly without a crowd.

“You’d still hope that by December you might have some (fans) back but you can’t plan on that now. We’ll go ahead in December for Joshua, because it’s been a year since he fought Andy Ruiz and he needs to fight.”