By: Sean Crose
One of the more interesting things to be found in the leadup to Saturday’s highly anticipated rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz is a considerable lack of chatter regarding the matter of judging. Perhaps it’s because the first fight was such a thriller or because the stylistic pairing of the combatants is so intriguing. Either way, few are asking what may happen should the fight be competitive while going the distance. Yet it’s a question worth asking. This, after all, is going to be a high level sporting event of some consequence. Such things don’t exist in a bubble. They have an impact on the future….a financial impact.
Consider this….as likeable and engaging as he is, Andy Ruiz is probably not ever going to be a household name. Tall, good looking, engaging Anthony Joshua, however appears to have that Madison Avenue “it” factor. Ruiz may be a modern day Rocky Balboa but Joshua is a potential cash register. One need only look at one of his big fights in England to grasp just exactly what kind of star power the Londoner possess. Such things shouldn’t matter when it comes to deciding a boxing match…but they do. There’s a reason people feel Canelo Alvarez is absolutely incapable at the moment of losing by decision.
The irony, of course, is that the chances of high end judges being criminally corrupt are incredibly slim. Most, if not all, are honest pros in a high pressure job. I remember doing deep research on one particularly controversial judge and finding absolutely nothing to indicate this was anything other than fair minded individual who simply had a knack for making controversial calls. Judges, like the rest of us, can he subjected to the seemingly innocuous elements around us. Sitting ringside changes one’s usual perception of a fight. Things like the crowd, the famous and powerful faces all about, and the outright pressure of the atmosphere can make for a strange experience. This isn’t an excuse for poor judging, simply an assessment of what might lead to it.
With that in mind, it’s almost too easy to see Joshua merely having to stay on his feet while being somewhat competitive on Saturday in order to win back the belts he lost to Ruiz last spring. One could also imagine Joshua moving on after any controversy subsided, essentially no worse for wear. Think of how smoothly Canelo has glided along after his two controversial fights against Gennady Golovkin if you want to know how easy it all can be. Not that Canelo – or Joshua, for that matter – should be seen as villains. They’re hard working guys who happen to be in favor at the moment.
With that in mind, Ruiz may have to blow Joshua out of the water again if he wants to hold onto his belts this weekend.