By: Hans Themistode
With Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua 2, officially set to take place in Saudi Arabia on December 7th, the question now becomes two fold.
Can Joshua regain his titles? Or will Ruiz prove that the first win was no fluke?
These questions can be debated for months, but won’t be answered until fight night.
Let’s rewind to their first contest. June 1st, 2019 at Madison Square Garden. It was the first time that Joshua was fighting away from his British soil. Fighting in America was bound to happen, and Ruiz was seen as just an introduction to his new market.
Things started off great for Joshua, knocking down Ruiz in the third and looking as though he could force an early stoppage. Ruiz did not back down in the slightest. He floored Joshua twice in the very same round and two more times in the seventh before the referee officially waved off the contest. Many were surprised but, if you have followed Joshua throughout his career, then you would have seen him hurt on multiple occasions.
It wasn’t that Joshua got dropped, it was how he looked. Let’s not forget that the former unified champ was dropped in his 2017 contest against Wladimir Klitschko and hurt both against Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. The only difference is that when Joshua has faced adversity, he has always raised his performance. This time around, he shrank underneath the pressure.
Former great champions such as Lennox Lewis has wondered out loud if Joshua can win his titles back. Lewis, who was the last undisputed Heavyweight world champion does not believe that it is a problem with Joshuas skill, but more so about what he has upstairs.
“It must be mental because he did not come into the ring looking like he usually looks,” said Lewis. “Joshua made it easy for Ruiz because he wasn’t fully there. If he was fully there it would probably be a different fight.”
Those sentiments spewed by Lewis, have been echoed by many in boxing circles. It isn’t to take anything away from Ruiz and the masterful job he did that night but, Joshua just seemed to be off his game.
Since losing his titles, Joshua has been adamant about winning them back. Giving full credit to Ruiz for defeating him but also insisting that he can and will win the rematch.
After several months of negotiations, we finally have the date and place. Joshua will have one more shot to prove to the world that he still is one of the very best in the Heavyweight division.
Many all-time great boxers have lost in devastating fashion. The aforementioned Lewis lost his titles to Hasim Rahman in what turned out to be one of the biggest upsets ever. Lewis righted that wrong by destroying Rahman in the immediate rematch. Now, it’s Joshuas turn to follow in the footsteps of his fellow British Heavyweight contemporary.
Another loss will mark the end of Joshuas reign amongst the elite of the division. With a win however, all will be forgiven and Joshua can reclaim his throne.