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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Ruiz-Joshua 2, praise and criticism for AJ, disappointment in Ruiz)

AJ's got quite the collection of sanctioning organization belts but there's a price to pay for all of those alphabet trinkets.
09
Dec

JOSHUA-RUIZ 2

Hi Duggie.

All the best to you and the family this Christmas.

Just a few thoughts on Joshua v Ruiz 2.



Anthony Joshua fought a good fight, stuck to his game plan and won comfortably. He should be commended for that. However, Andy Ruiz’s preparation was a disgrace. Coming in 15 lbs heavier than the first fight reminded me of Buster Douglas v Evander Holyfield in 1990. Douglas let the title go to his head and just did not prepare for ‘The Real Deal’. Do you think Ruiz was complacent after smoking AJ in June?

What do you think about Joshua’s chances against Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder?

If he tries to outbox Fury, I think the ‘Gypsy King’ will win every day of the week. His footwork and movement are far superior and we know he can take a punch. I think Joshua will have to be more aggressive and try to take it to Fury. Even then, I see Fury being too clever and taking a wide points victory.

Should it be Joshua v Wilder, I think AJ should employ similar tactics to those he employed against Ruiz. Deontay Wilder is VERY limited, virtually no footwork, a pawing jab and a limited range of punches. BUT, and it’s a big but, he has the hardest right hand possibly in heavyweight history. I don’t see that Joshua can keep him at bay for 12 rounds and feel that Wilder will land at some point.

All in all, 2020 looks good for the heavyweight division with some cracking match ups on the horizon. – Phil, Hull, UK

Yes indeed, Phil, and thanks for the holiday wishes.

The heavyweight division does seem loaded with quality potential matchups in 2020, and some that I’m looking forward to don’t even involve the world titles. I want to see Ruiz vs. Adam Kownacki (a surefire shootout between PBC chubby badasses), Dillian Whyte vs. Aleksandr Usyk (which Sir Eddie is working on for the co-feature to Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev), and Joseph Parker vs. Alexander Povetkin or Michael Hunter.  

If and when Joshua faces Wilder, I don’t think boxing the Bronze Bomber the way he did against Ruiz is the smartest move. Wilder’s tall and rangy. He can reach AJ even when the British superstar is boxing at arms’ length. I think Joshua will need to take an aggressive approach to Wilder, which I admit is as a dangerous as trying to tackle a nutcake wielding a Magnum revolver, but AJ isn’t as slick and cagey as Fury. And I don’t think he can recover against Wilder’s best shots as the Gypsy King did, so my hunch is that he’s got take a kill-or-be-killed mentality into that matchup. It’s a big risk but I don’t think Wilder can take a punch like Ruiz does. I can see AJ gambling and winning vs. Wilder. 

Versus Fury, I think he just needs to be the more active of the two Englishmen. Joshua’s got to out-jab the jolly giant, land the big shots where and when he can, and hope to get some help from the official judges (which I believe he will, especially if that showdown takes place in the UK).  

Anthony Joshua fought a good fight, stuck to his game plan and won comfortably. He should be commended for that. He should be, but there will be no universal praise for the big man. There’s just too many salty suckers out there who are either mad at themselves for being conned by Ruiz, mad at AJ for not allowing the overweight Mexican-American to whack him out again, or so pro-PBC that they forgot that they used to literally worship a hit-and-not-get stylist. It’s Salty Season for all three factions, who will crap on Joshua from now until the week of Wilder-Fury 2 (if that touted PPV rematch goes through). The rest of us normal boxing fans will enjoy the holidays.

However, Andy Ruiz’s preparation was a disgrace. Yeah, but was it really a surprise? It’s not like he tried to hide his extended victory lap after springing the Upset of the Year on June 1 (you could see what he was doing with his time and money on a week-to-week basis just by following him on IG). It’s mind boggling to me that so many fans (and pundits and pro boxers) STILL picked Ruiz to roll over AJ even after the weigh-in.

 

JOSHUA VS. WILDER

Doug,
It seems Andy Ruiz is the anomaly many thought he was. 15 pounds heavier and flat-footed, he didn’t get the job done.

In the time between the first and second fights with AJ, everyone cautioned the following for Ruiz:

  • Don’t get caught up in the hype
  • Slim down
  • Train harder than you did for the first fight; AJ will make adjustments
  • AJ will try to dance on the outside, you have to improve your footwork and close distance

Ruiz came in heavier, slower, admitted he didn’t train hard as a result of his sudden fame, and allowed AJ to exert his will without so much as attempting to control the pace or mood of the fight at any point.

Andy Ruiz Jr. said all the right things leading into the second fight with AJ, and did all the wrong things. Now – at least 10 times, by my count – Ruiz and/or his camp have said they want a third fight with AJ. Again, they’re saying the right things, even though the evidence suggests they’re ill-equipped or unwilling to follow through.

To me, it always felt like Ruiz caught AJ on his button in the first fight, and props to him. It wasn’t a ‘lucky’ punch, but it was fortuitous.

Both fighters made adjustments for the second fight, it’s just that AJ’s adjustments were all about winning, and boxing, while Ruiz’s were lifestyle adjustments. It’s not the first time this has happened in boxing, and won’t be the last, but shouldn’t we demand something different, something better? Ruiz fooled us once; twice would be our fault.

Everyone thought Ruiz “had AJ’s number,” but I’m not convinced the Ruiz we saw in the first fight would have beaten the AJ we saw in Saudi Arabia.

Also, I’d love your take on AJ/Wilder. Deontay clearly has the eraser, but AJ took an all-time one-two on the chin vs Klitschko and got up to win. I think Wilder’s right is better, but I don’t think his combo is better than Wlad’s. It’s hard to see AJ falling into that trap again. AJ’s rallying cry seems to be ‘once bitten, twice shy,’ and it’s working.

Thanks! – Nate

I thought Joshua-Wilder was a toss-up matchup before AJ lost to Ruiz and I still view it as a 50-50 fight. I don’t think Joshua can take a flush right hand from Wilder (perhaps no active heavyweight can), but I don’t believe that the American can take the best bombs from the UK star. I think if they bring the right plans and mentalities into the ring we could be treated to an all-time great heavyweight shootout.

I don’t think Joshua can beat Wilder by playing it “safe.” If he does that he’ll just be biding time before he gets clipped. Versus Ruiz I thought he HAD to play it safe because Andy can take his best punches all night. But vs. Wilder, I think he needs to take some risks to earn respect. He doesn’t have to try to kamizake Wilder, but he needs to rock him early, wear him down and then attempt to take him out – before the late rounds in my opinion.

Photo by Mark Robinson.

Ruiz came in heavier, slower, admitted he didn’t train hard as a result of his sudden fame, and allowed AJ to exert his will without so much as attempting to control the pace or mood of the fight at any point. Indeed. It seemed like he literally thought all he had to do was show up, climb into the ring and punch Joshua’s lights out, as though AJ was going to stand right in front of him and offer his head to be decapitated. And, sadly, a legion of AJ haters and more than a few boxing insiders – including former champs and hall of famers – appeared to believe that was going to happen. I get it, though. Ruiz’s upset was the feel-good story of 2019. People had Andy Ruiz Fever. I can’t give them too much s__t. I had Danny Williams and Lamon Brewster Fever after their heavyweight upsets in 2004.

Andy Ruiz Jr. said all the right things leading into the second fight with AJ, and did all the wrong things. Yeah, like listening to everybody that told him that they KNEW he would win the first fight and they KNOW that he’ll win the rematch – easy peasy chicken greasy. And then spending his money (when he needed to be on training camp lock down) like he had already won the rematch.

Now – at least 10 times, by my count – Ruiz and/or his camp have said they want a third fight with AJ. They need to stop with that noise. Andy laid a fat-ass egg in Saudi Arabia. Despite his non-effort, he was paid very well, but if he (and his team) want to make more pay days like that, Ruiz going to have to get serious about his training and be willing to take on a fellow top-10 contender (someone like Adam Kownacki or Luis Ortiz, both makeable fights within the PBC league) to earn another shot at a world titleholder and re-earn the trust of the fans that backed him so hard going into the Joshua rematch.

To me, it always felt like Ruiz caught AJ on his button in the first fight, and props to him. It wasn’t a ‘lucky’ punch, but it was fortuitous. I hear ya, and I agree. I couldn’t pull the trigger on picking him to win the rematch because I couldn’t stop wondering if he caught lightening in a bottle with the situation that led to his first crack at Joshua. It wasn’t going to be like that with the rematch. Still, he had a very real shot at repeating his victory if he came well-conditioned and prepared and he sabotaged himself by not doing so.

Both fighters made adjustments for the second fight, it’s just that AJ’s adjustments were all about winning, and boxing, while Ruiz’s were lifestyle adjustments. The frustrating thing for Team Ruiz (and Andy’s many supporters) is that there was no secret about the adjustments that Joshua needed to make to give himself the best chance at winning the rematch – we knew that the British star needed to stick and move all night. It’s ridiculous that Ruiz wasn’t ready for what AJ showed him (and ALMOST as ridiculous as salty ass fans that are mad at Joshua for boxing that way).

Everyone thought Ruiz “had AJ’s number,” but I’m not convinced the Ruiz we saw in the first fight would have beaten the AJ we saw in Saudi Arabia. Me neither, but I do wonder if the heavier, muscle-bound version of Joshua would have had the stamina to stick-and-move effectively for 12 rounds against the lighter (and more motivated) version of Ruiz.

 

RUIZ LEARNS A TOUGH LESSON

Hello Doug,

First of all, what a class act Anthony Joshua is, he’s the heavyweight champion the sport deserves. He fought a very good fight and stuck to his gameplan, which I thought he wouldn’t be able to do as I expected him to fold psychologically. I don’t think he’s yet proven that he’s the best in the division, but damn, if he boxes a disciplined fight against a Wilder or Fury, he could very well beat them. I still think at this point, Wilder is probably the man. Exciting times for the heavyweights.

Now, the main reason for my email is Andy Ruiz’ total disrespect to the fans and the sport coming in at 283 and then admitting he was partying too much and even tried to train himself. Man, what a bummer, what a disappointment! You wouldn’t believe the amount of press he got in Mexico, he was greeted by the president, went to every talk show, tv program, soccer games, you name it, people really connected with him, and who wouldn’t? The man is super charming and seems to be a very humble down to earth guy.

Well, it looks like all those dollars he now had to spend were too much of a distraction. In the end, for as good as Joshua was, I felt the fight was defined by what Andy failed to do before and during the fight.     He definitely looked out of shape. I picked him to repeat the KO but as soon as I saw him take off his shirt I was, god! He is out of shape! I hope he learns from this and goes back to the drawing board… honestly, I think he will. I know he’s ashamed and also disappointed in himself, you could tell.

Hopefully, he comes back and rebounds from this. He has a lot of things going for him and in this sport, it doesn’t matter if you lose, you can still be a superstar, see Canelo and now Joshua. This is going to be a very good learning experience for him, I hope he capitalizes on this experience as well as AJ did.

Thanks Doug – Juan Valverde

Time will tell, Juan, but you’re right about a loss not being the end of a prize fighter’s career. The Andy Ruiz story will continue and talented, entertaining and marketable heavyweights are always just one win away from being in (or back in) the multi-million-dollar mix.

Man, what a bummer, what a disappointment! Yeah, although I thought there was an intensity to the match because you never knew when Ruiz could land the right shot to turn the fight and most of us weren’t sure if Joshua could box such a disciplined game plan for 12 rounds, the bout failed to live up to its expectations. Some want to blame Joshua for the uneventful nature of the showdown, but it takes two NOT to tango.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of press he got in Mexico, he was greeted by the president, went to every talk show, tv program, soccer games, you name it, people really connected with him, and who wouldn’t? The man is super charming and seems to be a very humble down to earth guy. True. However, as loyal as Mexican fans are – and they’re arguably THE most loyal boxing followers because they generally don’t turn their backs on their fighters after a loss – they still expect their fighters to come prepared and give their all in the ring. Ruiz didn’t do that.

I hope he learns from this and goes back to the drawing board… honestly, I think he will. I know he’s ashamed and also disappointed in himself, you could tell. As he should be! He should be mad at himself, mad enough to get his ass back into the gym before New Year’s Day. And he should stay as mad as Joshua haters stay vexed and salty. He should keep that emotion when his first comeback fight is made and throughout that camp and he should carry into the ring with him.

THAT WAS CRAP

Dougie,

Ruiz was a joke and embarrassment to the title. To come in that out of shape shows a great deal of immaturity. I would call him Buster Douglas 2 but that wouldn’t be fair to Buster given how much more of a challenge it was to beat Tyson versus AJ.

As far as Joshua it was an extremely unimpressive performance. He basically has evolved into a Wladimir Klitschko safety-first fighter. Sadly enough that’s probably the only strategy that keeps him relevant as he can’t fight going backwards, his stamina is questionable and when hit he falls apart.

He is the fifth-best heavyweight in the division at best. Wilder, Fury, Ortiz, Usyk eat him alive.

DAZN’s production (except Mannix) is crap, their commentating was ridiculously one sided pumping up the house fighter AJ’s boring performance.

Did you enjoy any of that putrid crap? The only positive I take away is that it was over by 5:30 p.m. so I could watch college football. Wait I forgot one thing, Eddie Hearn and the whole Saudi thing made me nauseous. – Aaron in Miami (back to being bitter after the high of Beterbiev’s fight)

Man, it really is Salty Season for some fans. If that’s how you want to spend the holidays, Aaron, I won’t talk you out of it, but I think it’s silly to complain about one stinky fight after the string of Fight-of-the-Year candidates we were treated to from late September through November.

Ruiz was a joke and embarrassment to the title. Let me guess, you picked Andy to win, in part because you thought Joshua was mentally and physically “fragile.”

To come in that out of shape shows a great deal of immaturity. No argument there. It was a total lack of professionalism. Anyone who ripped Top Rank for releasing him needs to apologize.

I would call him Buster Douglas 2 but that wouldn’t be fair to Buster given how much more of a challenge it was to beat Tyson versus AJ. Douglas was also just a far more complete boxer than Ruiz, but he never loved the sport. I think Ruiz does love the sport. He just hates training.

As far as Joshua it was an extremely unimpressive performance. I beg to differ. It was EXACTLY what he needed to do in order to neutralize Ruiz’s aggression. And I was impressed with the discipline of his performance against a guy who clearly unnerves him and had absolutely beat him down and humiliated him on June 1. I think Joshua wanted to close the show in style and get a knockout if he could, but he tested Ruiz’s chin with hard punches here and there and learned that the defending titleholder could take whatever he dished out as the fight unfolded, so he remained behind his stick and on the move. Joshua would have been a FOOL not to box the game plan that he employed.

Photo by Nick Potts / AP

He basically has evolved into a Wladimir Klitschko safety-first fighter. Really? Was he “safety first” on June 1 in New York City? Was he “safety first” vs. Alexander Povetkin? Just because he played it cautious vs. an opponent he absolutely HAD to in order to win, it doesn’t mean that’s going to become his permanent boxing style. And if does, if he becomes Wladdy K. 2.0, that might not be a bad thing for his legacy. Last time I checked the record books, Klitschko had a 9½-year title reign that included title unifications and 18 defenses boxing in that “safety-first” style. (And for the record, I don’t think Wlad was always safety first, he scored some sweet KOs and had some nice performances mixed in with the stinkers.)

Sadly enough that’s probably the only strategy that keeps him relevant as he can’t fight going backwards, his stamina is questionable and when hit he falls apart. It would have stupid for him to “fight backwards” vs. Ruiz, his stamina is good enough to stick and move for 12 rounds, and he didn’t fall apart the few times Ruiz was able to nail him (usually to the back of the head).

He is the fifth-best heavyweight in the division at best. Wilder, Fury, Ortiz, Usyk eat him alive. You’re welcome to you opinion, but I think he can beat them all with the right preparation and game plans.

DAZN’s production (except Mannix) is crap, their commentating was ridiculously one sided pumping up the house fighter AJ’s boring performance. It’s not like Ruiz gave them anything to “pump up” during the fight. You said yourself that “Ruiz was a joke and embarrassment to the title.”

Did you enjoy any of that putrid crap? I didn’t enjoy it, but I found it compelling. I thought Joshua could outbox and outpoint Ruiz over 12 rounds, but I didn’t know it until I witnessed it unfold, round by round. As I stated earlier, there was a tension and intensity to the bout because I could tell that Joshua was uncomfortable in there with Ruiz and he had to deal with that for 36 minutes. And he dealt with it, but he wasn’t going to be in the clear until the final bell.

 

DOMINATION?

Read The Ring report about the dunes and compared with what I have seen:

Domination? Masterclass?

I saw one guy running and the other one to slow and too fat to follow. Is not exactly what I want to see when I tune in for a fight. – Matthias

It’s not always gonna be a shootout or a slugfest, Matthias. They gave us a dramatic dust up on June 1 and that didn’t work out well for Joshua, so he wised up for the rematch.

Photo by Mark Robinson.

Did he dominate Ruiz? Not physically speaking, but he did so stylistically and statistically as his jabs and lateral movement limited Ruiz to just 22 punches thrown a round (and an average of only five landed per round), according to CompuBox. He won by eight and 10 points on the scorecards.

Was it a masterclass? Hey, when it was Floyd Mayweather doing the ole “jab-n-grab” and “stick-n-move” nobody had a problem calling it a “masterclass.” Now we’re gonna crap on AJ for doing it? OK. But admit that his preparation, ring IQ and boxing ability was superior to Ruiz’s on December 7.

 

JOSHUA, FURY, WILDER MERRY GO ROUND

Seasons greetings Dougie,

Joshua did what he needed to do. It seems some people aren’t happy with anything in boxing except blood and guts, speaking of which (guts) how in the world could Ruiz come in so heavy and then give such piss poor excuses with so much on the line?

People are saying that Joshua is now going to fight like Klitschko from now on; I don’t think so. I think it’s another lesson learned and string to his bow. I think if he takes the lessons learned from his loss and implements them going forward it will make him more formidable?

I think the heavyweight merry go round just got clouded again?

People are going to say Joshua is chinny until he takes some punishment and comes out okay, which is understandable. Point being, as a heavyweight, is it ever reasonable to expect to be punched repeatedly hard in the face when other options are available?

I think mid-range is Joshua’s achilles, I mean if Joshua stays on the outside using his 1-2’s and inside uppercut hook combo’s it should make him (with added cardio) a more polished fighter?

At this point.

Fury is like a dancing champion who can’t stop dancing around the house even when told to do so.

Joshua is like your old uncle who still has the moves but you are waiting for his hip to give way.

And Wilder comes in and kicks the stereo in looking like Bambi on ice.

Sorry for the strange analogy. – R

No need to apologize. Those weird analogies kind of work for me, and they underline that old boxing adage: Styles make fights.

We’ve seen how Wilder’s and Fury’s styles mesh in the ring once and we’re supposed to see it again in February. Hopefully, we eventually see how Joshua’s style mixes or clashes with theirs.

Wladimir Klitschko (right) tags Anthony Joshua. Photo / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME

People are going to say Joshua is chinny until he takes some punishment and comes out okay, which is understandable. Um, OK, but didn’t we already see that in his fights with Klitschko and Whyte (and to a lesser extent vs. Povetkin)?

Point being, as a heavyweight, is it ever reasonable to expect to be punched repeatedly hard in the face when other options are available? NO! There’s nothing reasonable about that regardless of weight class. If two prize fighters want to go at it like maniacs I’m all for it, but if one or both want to try to hit and not get hit so much back, I can’t get too mad at ‘em.

I think mid-range is Joshua’s achilles, I mean if Joshua stays on the outside using his 1-2’s and inside uppercut hook combo’s it should make him (with added cardio) a more polished fighter? Yeah, but that outside game may not be what’s needed for every fight. What worked against Ruiz may not be the ticket vs. Usyk or Fury or Wilder or whoever. Joshua may need to take on a search-and-destroy mindset for some or a trap-setting-counterpuncher role against others. It can’t always be stick-and-move with the one-twos.  

 

MYTHICAL MATCHUPS

Hey Dougie.

Long time reader, first time poster. Love the mailbag and was considering commenting on Joshua doing to Ruiz what he should have done the first time but thought I’d throw in a few mythical matchups instead:-

Prime Mike Tyson v Usyk

JC Chavez v Mayweather at lightweight

Carl Froch v Mike McCallum

Canelo v Herol Graham

Errol Spence v Tommy Hearns

Julian Jackson v David Lemieux

Keep up the good work!

Dave. – Ruthin, Wales, UK

Thanks for finally writing in and sharing your thoughts with me and the other mailbaggers, Ruthin. Don’t be a stranger from now on!

Good mythical matchups, I gotta go with:

Prime Mike Tyson v Usyk – Iron Mike by mid-rounds TKO.

JC Chavez v Mayweather at lightweightJC Superstar by competitive but clear UD (in a bout that becomes punishing for Floyd down the stretch).

Carl Froch v Mike McCallumThe Bodysnatcher by split decision in a high-speed, high-volume, nip-and-tuck chess match.

Canelo v Herol GrahamCanelo by close maybe MD or SD at middleweight (depending on the rules – ‘80s-era with same-day weigh-ins or current – and which side of the Pond it takes place), and by late stoppage at super middleweight.

Errol Spence v Tommy HearnsThe Hitman by mid-rounds KO.

Julian Jackson v David LemieuxThe Hawk via early-rounds “one-hitter-quitter.”

 

MUST GIVE JOSHUA HIS DUE CREDIT

Hey Dougie,

Hope all is well and family is looking forward to Christmas.

Look I have to admit to being a critic of AJ the fighter and AJ the public persona for a while. I am not a fan of the constant attempt to make inspirational quotes, profound statements and the whole polished fake PR thing but I understand the commercial reasons. I am not a fan of the fascination with S&C and wanting to look like a hulk and obsessive twitter casual fans proclaiming him to be god-like annoy me hugely, as does the absolute rubbish Eddie Hearn has always come out with which those fans lap up and repeating ad infinitum. As a fan (and ex-amateur boxer) of 35 years, I am traditional and it (plus lots of Hearn BS) has made me lose a little love for the game.

Soooo, that said, one must give credit where it was due. Sure it was not the exciting brawl that people would want but it was a disciplined, well crafted and then executed plan to achieve the objective – regain the title and avenge the defeat. The comments I have been reading online about AJ running away and being scared and should not have got points as he was not engaging, etc. are just salty people with too much hate in their heart to be objective. I wrote this on twitter when one of my followers seemed surprised that I saluted him for the win – “I have been a vocal critic of AJ but one must give credit when it is due or one is just a sad, pathetic, biased irrational hater. He executed the perfect game plan. I spoke against him at the loss, I speak for him after that win.”

Lastly, Ruiz did not turn up but even as a non-AJ fan I am not using that as a reason. It was maybe 10% of it, the dedication, determination and changes made by Team Joshua were 90% the reason it played out that way, Ruiz just made it easier.

All the best. – Toby, UK

Thanks for weighing in on the outcome of the big heavyweight rematch, Toby.

It wasn’t a dramatic fight, but you have the right attitude and perspective in giving Joshua credit for turning in an impressively controlled boxing performance.

Criticism for Joshua prior to and immediately after the Ruiz upset is totally understandable. He looked perfect but he wasn’t. That’s not a sin on his part, but it wasn’t a sin for anyone to point that out before his fall from grace on June 1.

The body building/body beautiful obsession never bothered me, nor did his rather sterile motivational social media posts and by-the-book post-fight comments. Sir Eddie’s hyperbole never bothered me either. He’s Joshua’s promoter. That’s what promoters do. (I don’t even know why fans that get irritated by hype and “promoter speak” watch YouTube videos of promoter interviews.) If Hearn were in any way critical of AJ there would be fans (lots of ‘em, and even some media) that would rip him for not having enough “respect” for the star of his promotional stable and they would publicly opine that the British star should go shopping for a new promoter as soon as legally possible.

Anyway, I’m glad that an AJ critic can give the man his due respect after he boxed the most important game plan of his pro career. There’s no doubt in my mind that your amateur boxing experience gives you the insight and perspective into Joshua’s performance that a lot of Boxing Twitter denizens lack.

And the ones that know better but still ripped Joshua for his tactics, well, like you stated, they’re just “salty.” And they’re probably going to stay that way for a long time.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

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