Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr are due to go glove to glove for a second time in a little over a week and, whilst the fight is taking place in Saudi Arabia, eyes and ears will be tuning in from all over the world to see if Joshua can rectify what was one of the biggest shocks in boxing history from the pairs first meeting back in June.
What happened last time?
Joshua, who held a record of 22-0 going into the bout, was supposed to face off with Jarrell Miller to launch his career in America. Miller failed a drugs test and Ruiz was drafted in as a late replacement with a few weeks notice in a move that was ridiculed as ‘too easy’.
Every man and his dog thought Joshua would knock Ruiz out in next to no time. First, due to the Mexican fighters build and past record combined with the fact that Joshua’s stature wouldn’t look out of place on an NBA court. They were predictions that looked safer when ‘The Destroyer’ hit the canvas in the third round but then came a storm and things changed dramatically.
Ruiz, who has rapid hand speed and agility like a horse running in the Kentucky Derby race, made the more athletic Joshua look sluggish as he out boxed the Brit. Once, twice, three times Joshua went down under pressure from Ruiz. Joshua was shaken. A fourth rock followed, and Joshua was defeated ensuring Ruiz left with the three belts – the IBF, WBO and WBA titles.
But how did Joshua lose?
There are many theories surrounding the reasons why AJ lost the fight. Rumours suggested he suffered a concussion in sparring days before the event, other whispers suggest it was an anxiety attack and several people – Ruiz included – accuse Joshua of straight up quitting as he didn’t know how to win.
Whatever the reason for the loss, the fact is that he lost, and he didn’t look right from the moment he left his dressing room for the ring walk. Regardless, you can guarantee Joshua won’t make the same mistakes again.
What lays in wait?
First things first is the arena, which is being constructed specifically to host Joshua – Ruiz, is almost complete and will seat 15,000. Joshua doesn’t really do trash talk but a lot of chatter has come from those in the sport.
Ruiz has, as you’d expect, backed himself to upset the odds once again and the likes of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury seem to agree as they believe that you can again expect to see Joshua struggle with the speed of Ruiz.
Both men have altered their physiques prior to the bout but the point still stands that a couple of big shots from AJ and it could easily be goodnight.
If there is one thing you can say for sure heading into this fight is that Joshua’s career at the very top level is effectively over if he loses again. AJ will know that too and, whilst his down to earth personality means he hasn’t been derogatory towards Ruiz in public, deep inside himself he’ll be embarrassed by the demolition job his opponent dished out six months ago.
The Briton will be in a much clearer headspace this time round too with no chance of underestimating his opponent. Expect Joshua to come flying out of the traps and don’t be surprised to see the fight over and done with in under six rounds – AJ to win of course.
If it transpires that way, it’s highly plausible we’ll hear little of Ruiz again but if Joshua falls to another surprise defeat then you have to think it could be curtains on his career.