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Fight Picks: Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua 2

Photo by Matthew Heasley
04
Dec

On Saturday, Andy Ruiz Jr. will put his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on the line in a direct rematch with Anthony Joshua. “The Clash at the Dunes” takes place at a purpose-built 15,000 seat arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on DAZN in the U.S. and Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K.

Joshua, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at heavyweight, was scheduled to make his American debut against Jarrell Miller in June. However, the American failed a trio of pre-fight drugs tests and Ruiz stepped in at a month’s notice. Nobody outside of the challenger’s camp gave him a chance to win but, in one of the biggest shocks in heavyweight history, Ruiz rose from a third-round knockdown to drop Joshua four times en route to a seventh-round stoppage.

Ruiz, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring, turned professional in March 2009 after a solid amateur career. He steadily moved up the ranks and earned a shot at the vacant WBO title against Joseph Parker in December 2016. Ruiz (33-1, 22 knockouts) made a good start but lost a close – and in some people’s eyes controversial – majority decision. After a 15-month hiatus, the burly Mexican-American returned with three wins before securing the unlikely shot at Joshua.

Was the first fight Ruiz’s Buster Douglas moment, or can he repeat his sensational triumph? Can Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) recover mentally from the first loss of his professional career? Will the heat be a factor?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Joshua as a 2/5 (-250) favorite, while Ruiz is priced at 2/1 (+200); the draw is 25/1 (+2500).

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING MAGAZINE/ RINGTV.COM

TOM GRAY: RUIZ TKO 9
I’m picking Ruiz to repeat but without any real confidence. Joshua is a chilling puncher and he’s had him off his feet before, so it stands to reason that he can do it again. The thing is, Joshua couldn’t keep Ruiz hurt. Immediately after the knockdown, the colossal Brit landed a massive right hand, flush on the jaw, and Ruiz didn’t blink. Joshua will take far less chances this time, and he’ll look to keep it long, but I doubt the new champion will stand for being picked apart for 12 rounds. Ruiz has quick feet for a big man, he’s great at closing the gap, and he’s committed to his assaults. And once Ruiz gets into punching range, his hand speed and combinations are vastly superior. I hope I’m wrong, but I think Ruiz has Joshua’s number.

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: JOSHUA UD
Fascinating match up, so many intangibles. I could easily see a scenario where either man wins. I’m particularly intrigued to see if Ruiz is capable of repeating the first win or if it was a one off. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Joshua’s career is on the line, but another loss would hurt him severely in terms as his legacy and also at the box office. I think Joshua will try to use his eight-inch reach advantage and will have success with that, but can he hold off Ruiz who in the last fight walked through fire to catch Joshua. Both know they can hurt each other and I think that may lead to a more tepid fight than the first one. If that’s the case Joshua wins a points decision, I say that with no conviction though.

LEE GROVES: JOSHUA UD
Both men will benefit from having a full training cycle in which each is focused on the other, and, because of that, I believe both men will be primed. But although Ruiz went on to score one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight championship history, I believe the result came about only because Joshua was too reckless in chasing the KO after flooring Ruiz with a hook in Round 3. Once Ruiz realized he could hurt (and floor) Joshua, the downward spiral was too hard for Joshua to reverse. Up until that moment, however, the fight held to form and Joshua showed that he had the power to floor the iron-chinned Ruiz. That power is still there for Joshua, and Ruiz won’t have the element of surprise this time. I do think that Joshua will heed the advice to work behind his jab, not only to score points but also to keep Ruiz — and his power — at arm’s length from his shaky chin. I believe he will learn from Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko and execute a similar blueprint: Jab frequently, lock on a clinch whenever Ruiz closes the gap, wait for the referee to break them, land enough power shots to make Ruiz think twice about barreling in, and repeat the cycle. Ruiz, who hasn’t been a ball of fire when it comes to output lately, will be left frustrated, and so will the fans, who I think will bear witness to a low-output unanimous decision victory for Joshua.

MICHAEL WOODS: RUIZ TKO
Maybe fighting in America was a jinx to AJ, maybe not being in his preferred place, and following familiar routines, hurt him. Maybe he came into the bout out of sorts because he’d taken punishment during camp that sapped him. Boxing is THE SPORT of maybes, and conjecturing is much of the fun of prognosticating. History says that once a guy has your number, usually, he keeps that number tucked in his pocket. Ruiz SEEMS to be dialed in, but TBH, his ascent to stardom could take the most mentally strong beings just enough off track to end the rocket ride. AJ will want to box smart, all 12, and get the UD, while not getting that chin checked and again wrecked. Unless he lands that kill shot on Ruiz, and stranger things than that have happened in the fight game, I’m going to say history repeats – Ruiz has AJ’s number again.

MICHAEL MONTERO: JOSHUA UD
I like Joshua to turn the tide this time around. He’ll fight safely behind his jab, as he should’ve done in the fight bout, and win a unanimous decision on the cards. Within months of this rematch, the titles will be broken up. Expect (Aleksandr) Uysk to fight for the vacant WBO title next spring/summer.

NORM FRAUENHEIM: JOSHUA TKO 8
The temptation is to pick Andy Ruiz Jr. in an encore of a great story. But he caught an unprepared Joshua by surprise in the June 1 stunner. That surprise is gone. Joshua knows about his fast hands. Knows about his resiliency. He also knows that Ruiz will get up from a knockdown and has proven to be at his best after he does. Expect another early knockdown of Ruiz, who was down in the third round at Madison Square Garden. Joshua won’t let him off the hook this time. Maybe, an early concussion took Joshua out of the fight in New York. Maybe, he just got lazy. Whatever the reason, he knows to remain vigilant through every second of every round in Saudi Arabia. If he doesn’t, he might as well look for another line of work. But that won’t happen. Joshua might not be the world’s next great heavyweight, but he’s a good one, good enough to win the rematch.

GARETH A. DAVIES: JOSHUA KO 9
It will depend on how Joshua fights and keeping a strong mindset. If, as conventional wisdom suggests, AJ keeps it long, and uses a strong jab, his height and reach advantages, the dunes could bring good tunes for the Briton. But he will have to keep his nerve, and stick to the plan. There will be psychological issues to overcome from the first fight. Floyd Patterson came back to do it after being knocked down seven times by Ingemar Johansson. But this remains a very intriguing fight. Joshua on points, or late stoppage. But if he gets into a firefight early, it’s 60/40 Ruiz.

BOXING INSIDERS

PAULIE MALIGNAGGI (FORMER TWO-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/ TV ANALYST, SHOWTIME): JOSHUA KO
I see a meaner Joshua with a chip on his shoulder anxious to prove that writing him off was a mistake. I see him better prepared for situations where the fight reaches uncomfortable moments. I see both guys bringing out the best in each other because now both guys know how tough this could be and what is on the line. And most importantly both guys now realize how dangerous the other can be, so they both come in with an edge to their mental game. Joshua by KO.

VADIM KORNILOV (MANAGER): JOSHUA TKO
I believe that Joshua had something that affected him in the previous fight, or in the training camp. He also became over-confident after he knocked Ruiz down. This time he will be a lot more careful, avoid unnecessary risks and win the fight. I think Joshua will be a lot more focused this time. Joshua win by stoppage.

NISSE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER, SAUERLAND EVENT): JOSHUA KO
Ruiz walked into the last fight with no pressure. This time it’s a different story and it will be interesting to see how he deals with it. I also think AJ moving the final week of camp to Saudi was a good move to get away from any distractions. I think AJ will KO Ruiz this time.

KALLE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER, SAUERLAND EVENT): RUIZ KO
I’m going to pick Ruiz, simply because I believe the time is too short for Joshua to make the adjustments that are required. There are big adjustments required after the first fight, and I think to go straight into the rematch could be a mistake. Joshua of course has that big puncher’s chance. But I just think that Ruiz, if it all goes according to plan, will have the method to beat him like he did in June. We’re only six months later and it was, in the end, quite a convincing victory at Madison Square Garden. I’m going with Ruiz on this one.

ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): JOSHUA PTS
Maybe Joshua was over-confident, PR exhausted and demotivated last time; maybe Ruiz was too quick, too tough and way better than many thought. Maybe AJ had ridden red carpet through a capsized Heavyweight division, masking all his frailties along the way. Maybe Ruiz will always be kryptonite to the big fella. Maybe the pair swapped boots at the same time as they did all those belts and the land of the giants turns on its head once more. Maybe AJ is much, much better this time and maybe Andy is too. Maybe I wouldn’t want to walk the plank on the outcome of this one. My hunch is we see a repeat of the Parker fight, though Ruiz will gamble if he can. If Joshua stands tall and positively behind the jab, then that might be that. Nobody will be adding it to the DVD collection but Joshua won’t and shouldn’t care. I’d say he learned that and other lessons in New York. Joshua by decision.

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): RUIZ TKO
Ruiz vs. Joshua is the rematch everyone and his uncle are talking about. Will Joshua be able to block out the mental scar of his first and only defeat? Has he had time to learn how to roll with the punches? I doubt it! Should he have had a warmup fight first? Ruiz is in a win-win situation. I think Ruiz wins again inside the distance. You cannot put muscles on your temple or the back of your head and that’s where AJ’s problem is.

OSWALDO KULCHE (PROMOTER, PROMOCIONES DEL PUEBLO): JOSHUA TKO
It will be a good fight. Ruiz could rock Joshua at the beginning, but I think Joshua wins. Ruiz runs out of gas. Joshua TKO 10.

LAMON BREWSTER (FORMER WBO HEAVYWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): RUIZ TKO 9
I just believe they’re fighting for two different reasons. One is fighting to prove he’s not a paper champion that has a questionable chin. The other is fighting to represent his entire country as the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. A guy that didn’t win a gold medal, but still fought his way to the top to become a world champion, and now he’s gonna fight with the pride of Mexico to retain it. Remember, styles make fights. I believe Anthony Joshua has the wrong style to beat Ruiz.

JOHN SCULLY (EX-FIGHTER/TRAINER): JOSHUA PTS
I was originally picking Ruiz to do a repeat job, but I think losing all that weight might actually have a negative effect on him. He won’t be used to carrying it that low. If I had the bet, I would go with Joshua on a 12-round decision.

STEPHEN EDWARDS (TRAINER): RUIZ KO
I don’t know who wins this fight. I believe if Joshua fights long and not tall, he can win. But I don’t know if he realizes the difference. Ruiz didn’t land a lucky shot. He was actually landing a hard jab to Joshua’s chest, and Ruiz controlled the center of the ring. My guess is Ruiz by late KO, but it’s really anyone’s fight.

CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER): RUIZ KO
Styles makes fights, and I believe that in the short time span for Anthony Joshua to adjust and adapt to the hand speed and footwork of Andy is a tall task. That is why I believe it will be a repeat KO win for Ruiz.

WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER BANTAMWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/TRAINER): RUIZ TKO
I think Ruiz wins again unless Joshua makes an adjustment from last fight, which he desperately needs to do. Ruiz will have more confidence so may leave himself open. Joshua has got to keep his hands up and block the looping shots that hurt him the last time. If he doesn’t, then Ruiz will get the stoppage around four or five rounds. If Joshua gets the win then the third fight is on.

JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): JOSHUA PTS
I think Joshua is going to do things right this time and feel much more comfortable in there. I think Ruiz has gotten too comfortable from when he won. Great thing is, this is heavyweight boxing so one punch can end it all. Joshua by decision.

RONNIE SHIELDS (TRAINER): RUIZ KO 11
Joshua will box more. I think Ruiz will pressure him and finally KO him in Round 11.

MARIO ABRAHAM (MANAGER): RUIZ KO
Wow, this is a hard one to predict. I think the first guy who hits the opponent hard will win. It is definitely going to end in a KO. As a Mexican I want Ruiz to win but it could go either way. I say Ruiz by KO.

Final Tally: Joshua 12-10

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

 

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