Danny Flexen lists some factors in Anthony Joshua losing to Andy Ruiz Jr and suggests what he should do next
Now the initial shock has worn off, it’s time to pinpoint why Anthony Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz Jr; perhaps AJ already knows what the pivotal issues were. Here, in one writer’s opinion, are some key contributing factors to the defeat.
While Ruiz beat Alexander Dimitrenko just six weeks before Joshua - and accepted the AJ fight a week after that retirement victory - the Watford man had not fought since last September, beating Alexander Povetkin. He looked rusty early on and, following a particularly significant third round, was never able to find his usual rhythym and timing.
2. Change of opponent
Until five weeks before the fight, Joshua had been preparing for a taller, physically stronger challenge from Jarrell Miller. In came Ruiz Jr with fast hands and adept at getting inside the AJ jab, and Joshua’s time to prepare for the different style was limited.
3. Fought the wrong fight
As you will see below, I do not blame trainer Rob McCracken for this. Against Joseph Parker, another shorter, quick-fisted opponent, Joshua dictated matters behind his long, busy left and moved both backwards and laterally. Against Ruiz, he seemed more keen to engage early on - due to an initial lack of respect for his opponent’s power, a desire to look explosive or lacking the fitness to go the distance; maybe all three - and this proved his undoing.
4. Andy Ruiz Jr
Of course, the main reason Joshua lost was a terrific performance from his conqueror and the new unified heavyweight champion of the world. In his only defeat, a tight one to Parker, Ruiz Jr had made the mistake of easing off in the middle rounds and allowing the New Zealander to rally. No such misjudgement this time around as Ruiz Jr proved clever, accurate and indomitable.
5. Something else???
I could simply be clutching at straws here but humour me. Joshua had substantial facial swelling evident during fight week and, when questioned about this by our Radio Rahim,
wanted to change the subject. He did not appear his usual composed, sanguine self during fight week and there are rumours he was uncharacteristically standoffish. Finally, Joshua’s father seemed furious with promoter Eddie Hearn immediately after his son’s first professional loss. What does this all add up to? Most likely nothing. But could Joshua have been ill close to the fight and was persuaded not to withdraw? Did he experience personal problems? My Spidey senses suggest there may be a sub-plot as yet untold.
Now, to the future.
1. Keep McCracken
Rob is an excellent trainer as proved over the long term with the GB amateur squad, Carl Froch and AJ, among others. McCracken’s tactics would not have been to duke it out with Ruiz from early doors, and AJ’s plaintive "What is he going to do?" between rounds sounded like a fighter who had gone off-message amid several head-jarring barrages. In the immediate aftermath, AJ classily took full responsibility for the setback.
2. Be more active
Don’t wait another eight months to return - this will aid both sharpness and mentality; get straight back on the horse and all that.
3. Sharpen the tools?
Lastly, consider a warm-up, back at home, in the interim, if that is a viable option. It allows the opportunity to regroup in a less risky contest and environment and hey, maybe Ruiz Jnr can clear one of those pesky mandatory obligations in the meantime.