By: Waqas Ali
Former unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua looks to be in the hopes of a rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr later this year.
The fight is expected to take place in the U.S at Madison Square Garden. Some have speculated it to be set in the UK. However, nothing has been officially confirmed by either camp or even Eddie Hearn.
Joshua, 29, in light of the rematch will be coming back from a devastating loss that shocked the boxing world.
He came in the bout unbeaten with 22 wins in the bag and expected to finish off Ruiz in a couple of rounds.
Ruiz (33-1) on the hand was quickly dismissed to his size and physique. He came in to the fight weighing 268 pounds.
The Mexican-American fighter convinced everyone that he wasn’t going to be taken lightly as they thought.
He came back from a knockdown in round three and produced two of his own in the exact same round.
From rounds three to six, Ruiz was dominating and breaking the range as Joshua had no answer to his attack. In round seven, Ruiz produced another knockdowns and stopped Joshua.
He became the second fighter of Latino heritage to become a world heavyweight champion and the first ever Mexican to win it.
After the fight, several theories ran around the boxing world considering Joshua’s performance.
The fact that he had a panic attack, was dropped in sparring a week before, given a massage in the changing room, didn’t train in his boxing properly and focused on weights, took a picture with Drake or the fact that he had nerves fighting abroad in an arena and a crowd that he wasn’t familiar with back in the UK.
Other than the theory of the curse of Drake, nothing of the other theories have been proven or even confirmed by Joshua.
It seemed that Joshua was simply out-boxed and out-worked.
Fighters such as former two-time world light-welterweight champion Amir Khan and one of boxing’s greatest fighters of all time Roy Jones Jr have insisted that a rematch with Ruiz is not a good option for ‘AJ’.
One of boxing’s respected trainers in the business Freddie Roach also stated that Joshua wouldn’t be able to win in a rematch.
Even Ruiz himself believes that Joshua is no match for him in the rematch.
“The rematch is going to be the same. I am going to be more prepared and more ready,” Ruiz said.
“I know his flaws. I can do a lot better. The only thing that he can do is just run around, he’s not good at boxing.”
But the question remains is what improvements does Joshua have to make and can he avenge his loss?
Based on his reach (82”) and height (6 foot 6), the Englishman needs to keep the fight at long range and maintain the distance from Ruiz.
By maintaining distance, he needs to use the ring more and get a feel of it. Jab constantly on the outside to keep Ruiz from attacking and retaliating. But throw power punches to the body with consistency.
By doing that, it will slow the pace and stamina of Ruiz and tire him out. It is a must move and he has to avoid any exchanges on the inside considering the questionable chin of Joshua.
According to Compubox, Joshua landed only one power shot to Ruiz’s body.
Smaller fighters tend be more threatening on the inside because of their small reach and height and the power they possess when providing shots. The speed and capability of 29-year-old Ruiz is not be underestimated and clearly this has proven fourth.
The punches of Ruiz are sweet to see but sour to taste.
On whether he’d look to fight Fury or Wilder if he beats Joshua in their rematch later this year, he told K.O. Artist Sports: ‘First I want to focus on the rematch. You know a lot of people, and I’m speaking to Joshua too, because he was overlooking me and saying “After I beat Andy I’m going to fight Wilder” and this and that, instead of being focused on me. ‘I think that’s what I want to do right now, just focus on the rematch. I don’t care who I’m going to fight next after I win, the main thing right now is just to fight Anthony Joshua and beat him.
Considering all the evidence bought forward, it is clear that Joshua has to win the rematch in order to be back in the frame of the boxing heavyweight limelight.
Nobody will know what was going through Joshua’s mind on the night of the fight but one can speculate possibilities as to what really affected him mentally and psychologically.
However, one cannot take away the credibility, dedication and comeback from Ruiz. He proved to the boxing world that judging a fighter based on his size is an underestimation.
A great shock he provided and without doubt one of the biggest upsets in modern boxing. A true fan favourite and astonishing figure in his home country of America and national origin of Mexico. A fighting champion. For Mexico. For America.