Since Anthony Joshua lost to underdog Andy Ruiz in the first fight, many question marks have been raised over the British fighter and his overall ability to maintain his position at the very top of the heavyweight game.
Various issues were rumoured to have occurred during the build-up to his debut fight in America and following the shock defeat. Whether it was a mooted sparring knockout or a supposed panic attack on the night of the fight, speculation was rife. But whatever the real truth is, Andy Ruiz fully deserved the win and took advantage of a lacklustre, flat Joshua. Becoming the first Mexican Heavyweight Champion of the World was a simply beautiful moment in sport and even the staunchest of Joshua fans couldn’t begrudge him for it.
Joshua’s credentials are there for all to see – he’s done it all, he possesses knockout power and despite a few shaky moments over the years, overall he deserves to be at the very top. With the weapons he possesses in his arsenal, he’s always a dangerous proposition. But it is his attitude and overall mentality which has come under real scrutiny since the defeat in Madison Square Garden to Ruiz.
Did he under prepare? Did he simply think Ruiz would be a pushover?
Was Joshua distracted by the Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale bout which was taking place around the time of training, with the inevitable questions around his and Wilder’s desired fight cropping up? Did Anthony Joshua, for whatever reason, essentially take his eye off the ball?
Whatever it was, the Brit will surely have been putting in the work and be better equipped for what is a hard fight to call still. Placing a boxing bet, or even betting on UFC, can be predictable at times, that’s the nature of combat sports. But the bookies don’t really know what to make of this, and you would think there could be movement on Ruiz current price of 2/1 and Joshua’s of 4/11 (supplied by 888sport) before fight night.
It’s ultimately down to which sort of Anthony Joshua turns up on the night and whether he has a successful plan to combat Ruiz’s speed.
Leading up to the big rematch in Saudia Arabia, Joshua looks cool, calm and composed as always, but with a real air of determination about him too. He’s desperate to put things right and get back into the reckoning for a humongous fight against Wilder or huge bout against British rival Tyson Fury in the process.
On the upcoming fight, Joshua recently said: “I think I had to grieve and ask myself all the questions you would expect. People say ‘you lost’, I call it a blip. I can’t wait to get in there and fight him. Every time I have fought a champion I have risen to the occasion.”
It certainly won’t be easy for Joshua, though. Ruiz will be desperate to retain his heavyweight prize and prove the first fight wasn’t a fluke. Mexico’s smiling assassin has slimmed down, is eating better than ever before and is raring to go.
On coming in lighter, Andy Ruiz said: “I kind of wanted to be a little heavier, I wanted to carry his weight, take punches well but I think being 10lbs lighter, I’m going to be a better fighter. I’m going to be faster, let my hands go and be faster on my feet.”
Ruiz added: “Ten pounds isn’t going to make any difference. If anything it’s going to make me stronger, it’s going to make me faster, especially because he’s going to be running around.”
It’s that speed, particularly his hand speed, that Joshua will know all about and will certainly have to be more alert to this time around. Surely, you’d think, he will be.