This weekend, Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr will go toe-to-toe for the WBA, WBO IBF and IBO Heavyweight World Championship belts. This is the second time the pair have met following an earlier bout in June of this year in which Ruiz Jr shocked the boxing world to win via TKO.
History of the bout
As mentioned above, the pair fought back in June in what was expected to be a routine victory for Joshua while preparing for a bout with American Deontay Wilder. Fighting outside of the United Kingdom for the first time in his professional career, Joshua was the heavy favourite at Madison Square Garden, but from the outset he just didn’t look his regular self.
Despite an early knockdown on Ruiz, Joshua couldn’t get any sort of rhythm going and at one point during the fight was even overheard by ringside mics asking his trainer, Rob McCracken “What’s wrong with me?” In a dramatic third round, AJ was knocked down for the first time since his fight with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium. It wasn’t the last time either as Joshua struggled to deal with the Mexican-American’s raw power and sheer hand speed.
It all came crashing down for AJ in the seventh round when he was knocked down for a FOURTH time before the referee called a halt to the fight, marking the end of an era for the Brit. He has vowed since then that the loss was nothing but a minor setback, and his promoter Eddie Hearne immediately signalled their intent to set up a rematch. That rematch will take place on Saturday evening, and AJ fully expects to regain his titles and go on to fight one of either Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder next year.
What’s changed for Andy Ruiz and AJ?
The main thing to see when looking ahead to this fight is the noticeable difference in Anthony Joshua’s size. He seems to have lost a lot of weight in a bid to be more nimble and lighter on his feet. Whether that will prove to be an advantage or a disadvantage is yet to be seen – the one concern I’d have with him being lighter is whether or not he will be able to take a punch in the way he will need to.
A lot of people have also been talking about Ruiz, talking about how much weight he has lost. The fighter himself says it’s nonsense and he will have no issues in the fight in that regard. “People are saying I lost too much weight, I won’t be strong, he will move me around,” said Ruiz. “I am losing eight pounds from what I weighed on June 1. I’ll still be the same, I’ll still be strong.”
Joshua looked to have totally lost his desire to compete in the first fight, and using the words of Ruiz Jr, “he gave up”. This time around, you’ll see nothing of the sort from AJ. Ahead of the fight he seems to be fired up and ready for action – one thing he certainly won’t do is “give up”. On the other hand, the thing AJ will need to be wary of is the confidence levels of his opponent – they have gone through the roof.
Last time, Ruiz went into the fight thinking “can I do this? Am I good enough to beat the heavyweight champion of the world?” This time around, he knows fine well he’s good enough to win the fight – because he’s already beaten him. That confidence will give Ruiz a very different mindset going into the fight because he’s no longer the plucky little underdog – he’s the champion of the world. The Mexican just needs to be careful not to become too confident in his abilities because AJ won’t be as lacklustre this time as he was last.
As mentioned earlier, the winner of the fight will take home the WBA, WBO IBF and IBO Heavyweight World Championship belts. The fight will take place on Saturday 7th June in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia and we’re expecting ring-walks to be begin about 8:45pm UK time.
If you’re in the UK, you will be able to watch the fight live on Sky Sports Box Office for a fee of £24.95. If you’re in the United States and you want to watch the fight, you can stream it live on DAZN – for which a monthly subscription will cost you $19.99.
According to Oddschecker.com, Andy Ruiz Jr is the underdog for the fight once more in terms of the betting odds. The Mexican-American is 21/10 to win whereas AJ is the 6/13 odds on favourite. If you were wondering, a draw is priced at 33/1.
The other fights on the card see fellow Brit Dillian Whyte face off against Mariusz Wach, while Alexander Povetkin and Michael Hunter will go toe-to-toe just before the main event. You’ll also be able to see the likes of Eric Molina face Filip Hrgovic, Tom Little fight Mahammadrasul Majidov and Diego Pacheco go up against Selemani Saidi.
Honestly, as impressed as I was by Ruiz last time the pair fought, I just don’t see him winning again. AJ was so far away from his usual self in that first fight that I feel it’s almost impossible for him to be just that poor for a second time.
This time around, I see AJ coming in there, using his new found lightness and speed to tire out his opponent. It won’t an easy fight by any stretch of the imagination, but I see him ending it somewhere in the later rounds. Somewhere between rounds 8-10 I can see AJ letting his hands go and using his power to put Ruiz down – and he won’t get back up.
If AJ does lose again, it could very well spell the end of his career as a boxer – but it depends on the manner of the defeat. If he loses in a very hard fought battle in which Ruiz just about edges him out, then I think he’ll continue fighting at the top level and competing for world championships. However, if he loses in a similar manner to last time, however unlikely I see that being, I wouldn’t be surprised if he calls it a career and hangs up the gloves.