Anthony Joshua takes on Andy Ruiz Jr.
By John J. Raspanti
When it was announced that WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua would be debuting on June 1 in the United States against undefeated contender Jarrell Miller, many people sat up and took notice.
Joshua was immediately tabbed as the favorite, but Miller had some attributes that could cause the sometimes-robotic Joshua problems. Shorter than Joshua by three inches, Miller would likely outweigh the champion by forty pounds on fight night.
“Hard work, dedication and cheeseburgers,” said Miller last year before he defeated Johann Duphapas by wide-decision.
Miller looked more like an out-of-shape linebacker than a boxer. But looks can be deceiving. He’s light on his feet, intelligent, and blessed with good boxing skills.
Ok, maybe not so intelligent.
Shockingly, Miller failed three random drug tests administered a few months ago. Miller was out, but who would fight Joshua?
Enter Andy Ruiz Jr, a heavyweight from Imperial, CA. Ruiz, a 10-year professional veteran, sports a record of 32 wins in 33 fights, with 21 knockouts. His single loss was a debatable one to former heavyweight champion, Joseph Parker in 2016.
After he was named as Joshua’s opponent, who, by the way, is built like an English “Loo,” Ruiz was ridiculed by some on social media for his physical weakness.
Ruiz wasn’t surprised.
“A lot of people underestimate me,” said Ruiz. "The way that I look, my appearance, but as soon as they see me throw punches.”
Joshua came to Ruiz’s defense.
"It’s not about what you look like,” said Joshua, quoted in a press release. "It’s a craft, a skill, and what’s in your heart and your head that matters in the end, Andy has shown he has all that. He can fight and box. That’s what matters.”
The fight on June 1 is an important one for Joshua. He wants to impress American boxing fans, and answer WBC champion Deontay Wilder’s devastating knockout of Dominic Breazille last weekend. The 6-foot, 7-inch, undefeated Joshua has scored 21 knockouts in 22 fights. He was last seen in the ring in September 2018, throwing hands with Alexander Povetkin.
That fight had challenging moments for Joshua – as Povetkin, the former International heavyweight champion, was able to stun him. Joshua worked through these issues with power, eventually stopping Povetkin in seven intense rounds.
Joshua, 29, was brought along slowly by his handlers, plowing through one opponent after another before meeting former, undisputed, heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, two years ago.
The fight was something of a heavyweight donnybrook.
Ninety thousand roaring fight fans packed Wembley Stadium. The first four rounds were fought at even pace. Not much happened, but there was tension in the air-like waiting for a bomb to go off. That happened in round five when Joshua went after Klitschko like a man possessed. A number of hard blows floored the former champion.
The bout appeared over, but Klitschko, showing championship heart, pulled himself up. Joshua tried to end the fight, but the cagey Klitschko held on, staying out of range, even hurting his exhausted opponent.
Klitschko turned the tables in the next round. A right loaded with TNT crashed off Joshua’s chin-sending him down for the first time in his young career. Woozy, Joshua got up, fighting to survive. Entering round 11, the fight was still up for grabs. Both fighters had shown championship heart, and fought well.
The tide changed again when Joshua connected with a straight right that buckled Klitschko’s knees. Seconds later, a culmination of blows sent Klitschko to the canvas for the second time. He got up, but was down again seconds later when Joshua landed a pulverizing left hook.
Klitschko pulled himself up once again, gazing at his former sparring partner like a man waiting for the executioner to flip the switch. Joshua wasted no time forcing Klitschko into the ropes. He let fly with a number of bombs, forcing the referee to halt to the contest.
Ruiz, 29, will enter the ring a huge underdog. A week ago, he was listed as a 25-1 underdog. The odds should go down. As Max Warren wrote in his article for www.maxboxing.com, there is no way Ruiz is a 25-1 underdog. Ruiz understands that the odds are stacked against him.
“A lot of people underestimated me, and I’m used to that.” Ruiz told Kevin Mitchell of www.theguardian.com a few weeks ago. “My whole life people underrated me. I’m not going in there scared and I’m not going in there nervous. I’m going to go in there mad and to take what’s mine.”
“Anthony, don’t underestimate this little fat boy,” added Ruiz.
Could Ruiz pull off the upset? It’s possible. He last fought less than a month ago, stopping Alexander Dimintrenko in round five. Staying active is important in boxing, no more than for Ruiz, who’s prone to gain weight if he’s not training. After his last bout, he immediately returned to the gym.
Ruiz has fast hands, a good chin, and goes to the body well.
Joshua was buzzed by Dillian Whyte a few years ago, and by Povetkin. Many have wondered about his chin, and stamina.
The odds will likely come down a tad as fight night draws closer, but Joshua is a big favorite for a reason. He’s the taller fighter by four inches, and hits harder. Ruiz will climb the mountain as far as he can, but ultimately fall inside of 10 rounds.