Questions abound as Joshua and Ruiz throw hands in rematch
By John J. Raspanti
Last June, heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was as much as a 13-1 favorite to defeat Andy Ruiz Jr.
Instead, Ruiz scored one of the biggest upsets in boxing history by stopping Joshua in round seven.
On Dec. 7, in faraway Saudi Arabia, Ruiz and Joshua will meet again, with Joshua in search of redemption – while Ruiz attempts to prove his earlier victory wasn’t a fluke.
The fight is the most important of Joshua’s career. Another loss would be devastating. When he fought Ruiz six months ago, Joshua held four titles. A big money fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder was on the horizon.
Joshua entered the Ruiz fight undefeated, having stopped 21 of 22 opponents. His biggest victory was an 11th round knockout over former champion, Vladimir Klitschko, two years ago. He defended his titles three times before deciding to invade America.
Ruiz wasn’t even Joshua’s original opponent. It was supposed to be Jarrel Miller, until Miller tested positive for a banned substance. Miller was out, and Ruiz, after highly-ranked contender, Luiz Ortiz, turned down multiple offers, was in.
Ruiz (33-1, 21 KOs) had a month to get ready for the fight. His career looked to have peaked after he lost a close decision to IBF heavyweight titleholder, Joseph Parker, in 2016. He said he’d be ready.
The weigh-in likely caused the odds to go higher, as Joshua, built like a bodybuilder, eyed the fleshy Ruiz. No matter, Ruiz might have looked like an out-of- shape dough boy, but his amateur pedigree, and fast hands, would prove problematic for Joshua.
On fight night in New York City, the first two rounds were uneventful.
In the next stanza, Joshua knocked down Ruiz with a wicked hook. Ruiz got up with a surprised look on his face. Joshua, a good finisher, tried to end the match right there. He landed the knockout shot, a right hand, but Ruiz didn’t go down.
"When I got up, he got me with the perfect right hand that could have knocked anybody out," Ruiz told JD Sports.
Less than a minute later, Ruiz countered with a temple shot, causing Joshua to stumble to the canvas. Still disorientated, Joshua kissed the canvas again near the end of the round.
The next nine minutes were uneventful. Joshua was trying to box, while Ruiz looked to counter.
In round seven, all hell broke loose as a barrage of punches sent Joshua to the canvas for the third time. The champion got up, but was down again seconds later. Joshua beat the count again, but his disinterested gaze convinced the referee that he didn’t want to continue.
Andy Ruiz was new heavyweight champion of the world.
So what will happen when they meet again? Confidence will be very important, but survival could win the day.
Joshua HAS to WIN. It’s as simple as that. His championship future is on the line. He’s worked for the last number of months to get his brain in shape as well as his body.
“Your mind is the biggest muscle in the body,” he said in article by boxing clever on www.boxingscene.com. “I just use that to my advantage. Positive self-talk is important. You have to really believe it in your heart, not just your mind.”
Ruiz knows he can stop Joshua-who’s chin has always been questionable.
"One punch can change the fight,” Ruiz said. “That’s what happened on June 1. It might be a little harder than the first time. “
Putting some money on this happening might be wise. Joshua will have to box smart and not get countered. His long jab will be very important.
Ruiz will again look to time Joshua. Winning a decision could be difficult.If he waits to much, he likely loses a decision.
Smart money (and the way things have been setup) says Joshua should prevail, but Ruiz has a very good chance to win again.