Lou DiBella says Anthony Joshua has a lot of pressure on his shoulders when he attempts to avenge a one-sided loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua faces Ruiz in a bid to keep promoter Eddie Hearn in the heavyweight divisional shake-up. Another defeat would freeze both Joshua and Hearn out of the top weight class.
Ruiz dropped Joshua four times on June 1st at Madison Square Garden, taking four versions of the 200 pounds plus crown in the process.
A return was contracted. Eventually agreed for December 7 in Saudi Arabia.
DiBella sees ‘The Clash on the Dunes’ holding important significance to the direction in which the titles take for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a very good fight. I also think what happens in December is going to impact the division,” DiBella exclusively told World Boxing News.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see if Anthony Joshua can’t reverse his fortunes. And if Andy Ruiz wins again it’ll be interesting to see if it changes anything.”
On Ruiz securing the belts for promoter Al Haymon and the Premier Boxing Champions stable, which also represents WBC ruler Deontay Wilder, DiBella added: “I don’t know what the contractual situation is, but I think it certainly would change the power structure of the heavyweight division.
“It’s very dependent on if contracts were signed, what do they say? – So I don’t have the answer to that question.
“I would certainly think that PBC and Al Haymon would hold a lot of cards if Ruiz beats Joshua.”
Haymon agreed to Hearn’s demands in the first fight due to Ruiz being handed the opportunity at late notice.
‘The Destroyer’ was under obligation to rematch AJ immediately if he won, which he has now adhered to. Therefore, a win for Ruiz would end that said contract with Hearn, as it’s currently understood.
This means Ruiz would be free to make mandatory defenses against Kubrat Pulev or Oleksandr Usyk. Not only that – but in a great position to lobby the IBF and WBO for an exception to face Wilder for the undisputed crown.
As with the WBC, the IBF and WBO would almost certainly be on board with allowing a five-belt battle before any other mandatory challengers.
It all depends on what Joshua can do to stop this outcome from coming to fruition. DiBella believes the choice of venue hands the advantage back to Joshua.
“I don’t think Joshua was himself in the fight at the Garden. But at the same time, when you were knocked out and beaten as sound as Ruiz beat Joshua, that has place doubts in Joshua’s head.
“I think this time around, Ruiz goes into the fight very confident.”
He concluded: I think Joshua is justifiably the favorite. I, probably particularly (because the fight is) on neutral territory, would give the edge to Joshua.
“Ruiz stopped him in the first fight. Can he do it again? He certainly could, we’re going to find out – it’s a very intriguing fight.”
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay