Just about six months ago, Andy Ruiz shocked the world when he knocked out heavyweight king Anthony Joshua as a late replacement and a huge underdog. Can Ruiz do it again or will Joshua regain his throne on Saturday in Saudi Arabia?
Back in March, the fight started pretty much as expected with Joshua controlling the fight at distance in the early rounds and dropping Ruiz in the third round. That’s when things went off track for the British champion, he tried to jump on Ruiz and finish him as fast as possible. However, Ruiz wasn’t that badly hurt and possesses speed belying his physique. When Joshua started trading with him on the inside, an area where shorter fighters like Alexander Povetkin or Carlos Takam gave him some trouble before, Ruiz caught him with a nasty left hook to the temple which destroyed his equilibrium. Joshua went down twice in the round and while he managed to collect himself a little bit, he never seemed to fully recover and Ruiz finished the job in the seventh round.
The rematch is an absolute must-win for Joshua and I expect a very focused and careful performance from him. He should look to outbox Ruiz on the outside and deny him any opportunity to trade, entertainment and knockout ratio be damned. For Ruiz, the key to the fight hasn’t changed, be patient and get on the inside to capitalize on his handspeed advantage and Joshua’s stiffness there. He’s certainly capable of pulling it off again though his showing at the weigh in at 283 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than he was for the first fight, looks like a bit of a red flag. Given how disastrous a second loss to Ruiz for him and that his troubles started with his overeagerness to finish, I’ll go with Joshua being prudent and avoiding risk as much as possible on his way to a decision win.
Should Joshua regain the throne, potential money fights against Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder stay alive for the future. Should he not, well they’ll be alive for Ruiz and a second win over Joshua should definitely turn him into a household heavyweight name. Saturday night’s fight will be a career defining moment for both fighters and a pivotal point of this heavyweight era.
Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua II full card– DAZN – 12:00pm ET / 9:00am PT:
Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua
Alexander Povetkin vs. Michael Hunter
Dillian Whyte vs. Mariusz Wach
Filip Hrgovic vs. Eric Molina
Mahammadrasul Majidov vs. Tom Little
Ivan Hopey Price vs. Swedi Mohamed
Diego Pacheco vs. Levan Shonia