Tag Archives: Andy

Is Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua 2 Really Happening?


By: Hans Themistode

With so many conflicting reports coming out of both camps regarding the rematch between Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) and Andy Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), what exactly should boxing fans believe?

Let’s start at the beginning.

When negotiations began, many believed that the United States and the United Kingdom were only two destinations in play. There was a bit of noise in terms of bringing the fight to Ruiz homeland of Mexico, but that never really picked up steam.

The rematch seemed destined to take place at either Wembley Stadium or back at Madison Square Garden. It came to the shock of everyone that Saudi Arabia was chosen as the destination. It was clear to see that money was the driving factor behind the rematch taking place half way across the world.

The contest may not be taking place in where many believed it should but, nevertheless, fans had the fight they wanted signed, booked and delivered. At least, that is what they thought.

Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua 2, is the biggest fight of the year. Yet, both fighters were mum on the subject on their social media platforms. Things became even more confusing when a press conference was held in the U.K with both fighters absent from the event. Can you remember the last time a mega fight was announced without either participant at the actual conference?

I can’t either.

Although Saudi Arabia is an odd place for the rematch to take place, that does not seem to be the biggest issue. Like many negotiations, money seems to be the sticking point that is fueling Ruiz.

According to several reports, Ruiz originally signed a rematch clause in his first bout with Joshua which promised him nine million should there be a rematch. A figure that seems far too low for a fighter of his current stature.

Just recently Ruiz broke his silence and indicated to his fans that the rematch would take place but more so on his terms, not Joshua’s.

“The fight is going to happen soon,” said Ruiz during his instagram live. “We are going to make the fight happen but the fight is going to happen on my terms and we’re going to bring it back to the United States. Joshua is scared, that’s why he is trying to make the fight in Arabia. I don’t have any protection over there.”

If you are a fan of boxing, just what exactly should you believe at this point? That is a difficult question to answer. The fight will certainly happen this year. It is the biggest fight that can be made in the entire sport. Just exactly where it will take place however, seems to still be up in the air.

More Headlines

Eddie Hearn: Ruiz-Joshua 2 Can Change Boxing Forever


By: Sean Crose

Strangely enough, neither man was there. In a press conference to officially announce the highly anticipated rematch between former heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua, and the man who stunned the world by besting him, Andy Ruiz, promoter Eddie Hearn did his best to hype the impending bout. With neither Joshua or Ruiz present, however, it proved to be an off seeming affair. Ruiz-Joshua 2 is scheduled to go down on December 7th in Saudi Arabia, though word is making the rounds that Ruiz is unhappy with the arrangement. Still, Hearn spoke in detail about the Saudi Arabia location for the match.

“For us,” said Hearn, “we really wanted to go somewhere where they believed in the sport of boxing and they had a vision.” The promoter went on to praise Saudi Arabia as a qualified host country. “I was lucky enough to attend the World Boxing Super Series,” Hearn continued. “It was a fantastic event, not just for the logistical setup but because of the vibrancy of the crowd, the interest in the sport of boxing. And of course, recently they staged another fight with Amir Khan.”

Ruiz shocked not only the boxing world, but the entire sports world when he essentially beat up Joshua last June in Joshua’s American debut. The Madison Square Garden hosted bout was supposed to be Joshua’s introduction to the American public. Ruiz was essentially a last minute replacement opponent for Joshua after Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller had to drop out due to positive drug tests. In other words, not much was expected of the Mexican-American slugger. To claim Ruiz over-performed would be an overstatement. The heavyset challenger dropped Joshua numerous times before the bout was finally stopped in round seven.

Although he was stunned and thoroughly beaten, Joshua took the loss like a gentleman. The now 22-1 Englishman has also proven ready to redeem himself since the loss. With a rematch clause in place, it was essentially only a matter of where and when Joshua would face the now 33-1 Ruiz again. With a date and location set, Hearn was effusive Monday about the fight being scheduled in a unique location. Ever the salesman, the smooth promoter claimed that “this event can change boxing forever…You could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport.” Hearn added that “with curiosity, the whole world will be watching this fight.”

While the fact that Ruiz-Joshua 2 is scheduled to go down in the middle east is now unarguably a major part of the story, it also brings with it a degree of controversy, something the media is already beginning to take note of. Saudi Arabia is widely seen as a nation ripe with human rights abuses, something that will no doubt continue to be noted as the countdown for the match begins. Whether the country’s reputation will keep fans from embracing Ruiz-Joshua 2 remains to be seen.

More Headlines

Can Anthony Joshua Succeed in a Rematch Against Andy Ruiz Jr?


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.

More Columns

Anthony Joshua: Defeated by an Ordinary Hero


By: Oliver McManus

There’s an American legend that tells of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Library in San Diego; an apparently perfect piece of manmade design. Except when it was being designed the architect forgot to allow for the weight of the books, leaving the third floor completely empty as cracks began to appear, literally, in the foundations – at least that’s the fantasised version: in reality it’s just an open forum. The expertly chiselled physique of Anthony Joshua, the last known gift from the Greek gods as they seek to atone for that pesky wooden horse, begins to echo the fable of the library as his status slowly sinks – meticulous design let down by a blip of the mind.

Reflecting on the seismic surprise from the weekend is an arduous task as you seek to strike the right balance between telling the ‘headline’ – Anthony Joshua losing his world titles in unprecedented circumstances – and telling the ‘story’ – Andy Ruiz’ rise from an impoverished background to unified champion of the world. Everyone was a critic when the fight was announced, myself included, for varying reasons. For me it was the ongoing saga that started with “AJ commit(ing) his future to Wembley” and ended up with a, seemingly, uninspiring opponent on just a few weeks notice all the while sitting behind pay-per-view. For others it was the aesthetics of Andy Ruiz that provided a few easy potshots.

Ruiz who should, by rights and record, be viewed as an established heavyweight in a dwindling throng of contenders was denigrated by an age where Twitter opinions read like a gravestone. It was easy to get taken in by the swamp of people who were writing Ruiz off – after all why should he have stood a chance against the immortalised powers of Anthony Joshua? It seemed an absolute eternity since Ruiz went hammer and tong at Joseph Parker and, since then, he had bubbled under the radar thanks to a dispute with Top Rank.

Yet Andy Ruiz had the perfect style to inflict Joshua’s first defeat; Eddie Hearn’s cash cow has always looked most vulnerable when he’s been met with fire, ironic given those flaming ‘AJ’s’ that get rolled out at every opportunity. Alexander Povetkin and, to an extent, Dillian Whyte laid down the blueprint for beating Joshua; hit him first and don’t back off. There was a feeling that Joshua was fighting with Deontay Wilder’s knockout of Dominic Breazeale lingering somewhere in the alleys of his mind – looking to outgun his fiercest rival. It was working, too, until he got that knockdown in the third round – a knockdown that many anticipated would result in the crumbling of Ruiz after a gutsy three rounds; that is, after all, how the script usually goes.

Quite the opposite, however, as Joshua began to look complacent and comfortable within himself whilst Ruiz rallied and set about swarming the champion with shot after shot with energy and aggression reminiscent of a puppy dog chasing after a laser beam. From the moment of that knockdown, Ruiz was first to the punch each and every time and he refused to let Joshua have the time to think about plotting any explosive finish. As Ruiz began to land with increasing accuracy and frequency, the urgency of Joshua flatlined. He was apathetic each time he was forced to take a knee – on all four occasions – fighting with indifference despite the fact his empirical reign was visibly shattering before him.

The fight was beaten out of him and his mind seemed to escape him at some point between the third and fourth round: from there it was only a matter of time before the body followed and, so it proved, that after four rounds of being broken down – piece by piece – the referee had seen enough with just over half the seventh round to go. That’s perhaps the most alarming thing of the defeat, this wasn’t a lucky shot or an explosive one-punch knockout but a comprehensive, sustained breakdown of Joshua’s fighting spirit. This was not brutal, bloodied or concussive but the dejected defeat of a man.

In many ways this could be worse, in the long run, than getting sparked suddenly.

All that being said, this does not make Anthony Joshua a bad fighter overnight. Nor does it mean he was ‘exposed’, let’s be clear on that. We’ve got to be cautious not to forget the merits on which Joshua became champion whilst also not shy away from the fact he was beaten hands down. Given his record of unifying titles, successfully defending belts on six occasions and becoming world champion in his 16th fight, it defies logic to see so many people looking now to derail the achievements of Joshua. He has got things to work on, big gaps in his armory, but he’s also achieved more than any other heavyweight during the last three years.

The bubble has been burst, though, and the blueprint that we knew existed has been successfully put into action. Ruiz is very unlikely to change his approach for any such rematch because he executes that swarming style of pressure so well and the onus is on Joshua to prove he is as good as we all thought and is capable of adapting and learning – even if he is a relatively ‘old dog’ at this stage in the professional game.

Should we be looking for excuses for Anthony Joshua, should be wanting answers as to why he looked so underwhelming or does that only serve to discredit the achievements of Ruiz? Naturally we’re all curious as to what could possibly have happened, if anything at all, but the never-ending spiel from social media ‘insiders’ as to the shading of his skin, depth of breathing, you name it, just reeks of desperation that you’d never see from Joshua. We can say what we want of him but there’s one thing that has always been abundantly clear, amid all the hype and hyperbole, and that’s that Joshua is a gentleman and would never seek to make excuses so we shouldn’t do on his behalf.

Ruiz was simply the better man and a Joshua win in the rematch is certainly far from clear-cut simply because of the adaptations he needs to make; either he needs to be first to the punch or needs to adjust to fighting on the back foot under that pressure from Ruiz. Flick back to the ‘Ali ages’ as opposed to the ‘Mayweather era’ where losses were commonplace and this could be the best thing that happens in Joshua’s career – a kick up the jacksie to remind him that this is heavyweight boxing and you don’t have it all your own way. That or it could begin the collapse of Joshua’s princely spell at the top of the heavyweight division.

More Columns

Three Takeaways: What Andy Ruiz’s Win Means for Boxing


By Jonah Dylan

Andy Ruiz absolutely shocked the world on Saturday night. Sure, people had laid out “paths to victory” for Ruiz, but they’d done the exact same thing for Dominic Breazeale before Deontay Wilder brutally knocked him out in the first round two weeks ago. The moment can’t be understated – it was one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history, and it won’t soon be forgotten.

Aside from the mammoth that was Joshua-Ruiz, we had a number of title fights on the undercard from Madison Square Garden. Here are my five takeaways from the weekend.

1. Like it or not, Joshua’s loss probably hurts boxing as a whole

There’s no question a matchup between Anthony Joshua and Wilder was the biggest fight in boxing coming into Saturday night. Even accepting that it wasn’t likely to happen until late 2020 at the earliest, Joshua-Wilder was the extremely rare event that would’ve crossed over from boxing fans to mainstream sports fans. Two undefeated champions in their prime, both with clear vulnerabilities, for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. The fight sold itself (that is, if Eddie Hearn and Al Haymon were actually willing to sell it).

Joshua-Wilder could still happen, and it’s still a fight a lot of people would like to see. Wilder would now be expected to win, because he’s a bigger puncher than Ruiz (and everyone) and Joshua’s chin was exposed once again. Now, though, Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) versus Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) is the fight people want to see, and if all goes according to plan we’ll get it in early 2020. It’s a great rematch, but it won’t have anything close to the demand of Joshua-Wilder before Saturday.

Even if the fight does get made eventually, it won’t attract as many casual sports fans as it would’ve if both guys were undefeated. To be honest, I’d rather see Terence Crawford-Errol Spence, another fight that seems unlikely to happen. The difference there is that neither guy seems particularly vulnerable, and it’s hard to see anyone beating Crawford or Spence except for the other guy. That fight can marinate and marinate.

Even if Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) beats Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) in their immediate rematch, he’ll have a harder time selling the fight, and Wilder now has more leverage in their negotiations. Less people will watch Wilder-Joshua than they would’ve before Saturday, and that’s bad for the sport as a whole.

And one more thing: we have no idea what sanctioning bodies will do, but remember what happened after Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to win these three belts in November 2015? When Klitschko exercised his right to an immediate rematch, the IBF still ordered Fury to make a mandatory defense, and he had no choice but to vacate the belt. I would not be surprised if the IBF orders Ruiz to fight Kubrat Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs), knowing full well he has to fight Joshua next. This might crush the chance of seeing an undisputed heavyweight champion for a long, long time.

2. Andy Ruiz deserves way more credit than he’s getting

For all the talk about Joshua’s shortcomings, can we recognize the unified heavyweight champion of the world for a second? Ruiz is fun because he doesn’t look like an athlete, and a lot of people will never get over that. But he came in with an excellent gameplan and executed it to perfection. He used his impressive work rate to frustrate Joshua and moved enough to avoid getting tagged with Joshua’s looping punches.

He also exposed Joshua more than anyone else had. He wasn’t worried about Joshua’s jab, which could have been a major weapon against a much shorter opponent. He knew Joshua would go for the kill after the knockdown, and he didn’t let up when he had Joshua hurt (the mistake that cost Klitschko so dearly). I’d like to how he’d approach fights against Fury or Wilder, or even Dillian Whyte.

And let’s just restate it, because it is really pretty unbelievable. In a hostile environment where almost everyone was on Joshua’s side, Ruiz got up off the canvas in the third round and immediately staggered the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. Then, he stayed calm and waited for his moment to get the finish and earned three world title belts, leaving jaws dropped across the world.

3. Callum Smith is the man at super middleweight, and it’s hard to even make an argument against him

I’m not saying Hassan N’dam is a top-level opponent, but the way in which Smith (26-0, 19 KOs) demolished him over three rounds in the Joshua-Ruiz co-feature was something to behold. Smith is absolutely massive at 168 and looks much, much bigger than everyone he gets in the ring with. He hadn’t fought since he sent George Groves into retirement in September, so let’s hope for more activity over the next year.

What Smith desperately wants and arguably needs is a fight against Canelo Alvarez, but it makes more sense for everybody if Alvarez first fights a trilogy with Gennady Golovkin. Promotional issues aside, I don’t think there’s anyone at 168 Smith wouldn’t knock out. The other champions are Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, 13 KOs), Andre Dirrell (26-3, 16 KOs) and Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KOs). Smith-Saunders would be an interesting fight stylistically, but I think Smith would eventually catch Saunders with a big shot and put him away. It’s also very unlikely because Saunders is with Frank Warren and Smith is with Hearn.

There’s been some chatter that Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11 KOs) wants to move down to 168, and he’d be a solid fight for Smith. David Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs) will first want a crack at Dirrell and the WBC belt, but he could at least put up some resistance against Smith. Still, there’s nothing besides the Canelo fight that excites me for Smith.

So he’ll continue to be in a kind of dead zone unless he moves up to 175, but let’s hope Smith finds himself in an interesting fight sooner rather than later.

More Columns

Ruiz Shocks the World and Stops Joshua


By: Sean Crose

The boxing world was stunned Saturday night when the 33-1 Andy Ruiz…who had just fought in April…thoroughly beat up and stopped the world’s prominent heavyweight titlist, 22-0 Anthony Joshua. Making his American debut, Joshua was dropped numerous times and looked almost puzzled when the scheduled 12 round Madison Square Garden bout was wisely stopped by the referee.

WBA, IBF and WBO champ Joshua had been scheduled to meet Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, but Miller tested positive for numerous banned substances and so a new opponent was needed. In stepped Ruiz, whose only loss had been a close decision defeat to Joseph Parker. Needless to say, no one gave Ruiz much of a chance. This was for all intents and purposes, supposed to be a filler match, a way to showcase Joshua for American fans.Things didn’t work out as expected.

The bout opened with Ruiz facing Joshua’s prominent jab. The much taller Joshua was able to keep his man at bay in the second. Then came the third. Joshua dropped Ruiz with a thunderous hook, making it appear as if it might be an easy night’s work for the Englishman. Ruiz got up, the two men began to brawl, and – amazingly – Joshua himself went down.

The defending champion got to his feet but was then sent down again for the second time in the round. Joshua got up again, but the man was clearly in trouble. The referee asked Joshua to come forward to see if Joshua was okay. Joshua seemed confused. The referee let Joshua off the hook, as the bell rang a moment later.

Things were slower in the fourth, but Joshua was clearly gunshy. The man seemed to hardly fire a shot. The champion looked better in the fifth and arguably took the round, having seemed to have regained his composure. Joshua appeared to be in control in the sixth, but Ruiz was able to find his target toward’s round end. Everything subsequently came to a head in the seventh.

Ruiz sent his man down for the third time in the fight. Joshua got up, but was clearly not looking good. The fight continued, only to see Joshua down yet again. The man clearly looked defeated. Still, the champion got to his feet once more. The referee checked to see if Joshua was okay. Joshua simply looked about – possibly at his corner – and the referee stopped the fight.

Andy Ruiz now holds more titles than anyone in the heavyweight division – something few would ever have expected. It’s hard to overstate the enormity of Saturday’s bout. It may well have been the biggest upset in boxing since James “Buster” Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990. What’s more, major bouts with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder may well be out of Joshua’s future. Again it’s difficult to overstate the enormity of this upset.

Earlier in the evening, the popular Katie Taylor became the undisputed lightweight champion of the world by sqeaking past Delfine Persoon via close decision. Callum Smith also showed he’s a super middleweight titlist to be reckoned with by wiping out Hassan N’Dam in the third.

More Headlines

Andy Ruiz: Looking to Make History


By: Hans Themistode

One can argue, that throughout the history of boxing no demographic group has had more success than those of Mexican descent. Their heritage has produced great champions and all-time great fighters.

Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Salvador Sanchez and countless others have been a pillar in the boxing community. Currently, Canelo Alvarez is playing his part to continue their rich history as he has won titles in three different weight classes and is considered by most to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world.

As successful as the country of Mexico has been, they have always been missing one important piece. That would be the Heavyweight championship of the world. Never has there been a Mexican Heavyweight champion. To be frank, there hasn’t been a great Heavyweight Mexican fighter of note.

Just who holds the title of greatest Mexican Heavyweight of all time?

One could make the argument that Chris Arreola currently holds that prestigious claim. Arreola started his career winning his first 27 contest. Even more impressive, 26 of those 27 wins came via stoppage. It seemed as though Mexico was destined to have their first Heavyweight title holder. Championship losses to Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne (twice) and Deontay Wilder have effectively ended the title hopes of both Arreola and Mexico.

This Saturday night on June 1st, Andy Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) can change that notion. It won’t be an easy task by stretch of the imagination as Ruiz will be taking on undefeated unified champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs). The contest will be taking place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In 2016, Ruiz came up short in his bid to become a world champion when he lost a close split decision against Joseph Parker. It was the first pro loss of Ruiz career. He’s learned from the experience and he is determined to not allow it to happen again.

“From that Parker fight I learned that I need to work harder and have more discipline. I may have lost the first time I challenged for a world title but it wont happen again.” Said Ruiz during a recent press conference.

Heart, guts and glory is what defines the Mexican heritage. Champion after champion, weight class after weight class, they have succeeded. There is just one glaring hole in their resume. On June 1st, Andy Ruiz will have the opportunity to fill that hole, by bringing the country of Mexico its first ever Heavyweight world title.

More Columns

Andy Ruiz Keys to Victory


By: Hans Themistode

Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz Jr (32-1, 21 KOs) is taking on the biggest challenge of his career. On Saturday night June 1st, he’ll be challenging unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs). The contest is slated to take place at the famed Madison Square Garden Arena.

Since coming up short in his first bid for a world title back in 2016 against Joseph Parker, Ruiz has reeled off three straight victories. He will be a huge underdog going up against Joshua, but he shouldn’t be counted out.

What exactly can he do to become the first Mexican Heavyweight champion? Keep reading to find out.

Push The Pace

Anthony Joshua is shaped more like a body builder rather than a prize fighter. Although his physique is impressive, he has had stamina issues in the past. Ruiz should look to test the champion in that regard. Set an incredibly fast pace by moving forward and making Joshua work.

The danger in this strategy is that he could set himself up for big shots coming his way from the champion. If Ruiz can set a face pace and push the champion towards the later rounds, he could very well be on his way to a major upset.

Work On The Inside

Ruiz will be giving up a four inch height advantage to go along with a staggering eight inch reach advantage as well. Boxing on the outside may not be a good idea. Sure he has plenty of skills but facing so many disadvantages from a physical standpoint, could lead to his downfall.

Instead, Ruiz needs to bully his way inside. For as big and strong as Joshua is, he doesn’t have the most impressive inside game. If Ruiz can find a way to get inside and rough up the champion without taking too much punishment coming in, he should be able to do some great work on the inside.

Let Your Hands Go

Andy Ruiz knows exactly what he is getting himself into. He isn’t expected to win, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t. Joshua has shown to be a bit vulnerable when his opponents have landed big shots. Ruiz has more than respectable power. He also has fast hands as well.

Joshua is defensively responsible but he has been clipped on more than one occasion. It’s a tough ask of Ruiz to simply outbox Joshua. Ruiz should throw caution to the wind and simply go for it. Of course it’s much easier said than done, considering that Joshua is such a massive puncher but if Ruiz intends on shocking the world, he will need to take a few monumental risk along the way.

More Headlines

Andy Ruiz: “I’m In This To Win It”


By: Sean Crose

“It just gives me more motivation,” says heavyweight title challenger Andy Ruiz, “all the guys talking crap.” Ruiz, whose record currently stands at 32-1 is oozing confidence on the eve of his bout with divisional kingpin Anthony Joshua this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. “I don’t know if they are mad,” he says, “because I have got this opportunity, but I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone, I talk in the ring with my fists. I’m so mentally strong and prepared for this fight that I don’t care what people have to say.”

The 33 year old, who fought as recently as last April, is a replacement for Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, who positive tested his way out of the Joshua fight when banned substances were found in his system. With that in mind, Ruiz knows he is the underdog walking into the ring this weekend. “A lot of people underestimate me,” he says. “Like I said, the way I look, my appearance, but as soon as they see me throw punches, I’m going to pull out the upset. This is what I have worked for my whole life, I’m here to take what Anthony has. I’m ready to shock the world.”

Ruiz, whose one loss was a 2016 majority decision defeat to Joseph Parker, has since gone on to win three in a row. Still, the heavyweight division is now dominated by the personalities of Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury, who seem to draw in all of the public’s and the media’s attention. Ruiz is eager to make people take notice. “People will see what I can do,” Ruiz says. “It’s going to be an all action fight, with two big guys punching each other in the face, hard. I’m in this to win it. Everyone else that has fought him (Joshua) has lost before they get in there, I’m not thinking like that, and that’s the difference.”

In an era where most top fighters arguably don’t want to fight any more than once or twice a year, Ruiz feels that he’s going to be sharp walking in, having just fought several weeks ago. “The most important thing is to win and prove to the fans that I belong at this elite level,” he says. “I’m not going to chase the KO but I know that it’s there if I execute my combinations. I’m feeling good and ready, AJ hasn’t boxed for nine months and I’m sharper than ever and very motivated.”

Perhaps more than anything else, Ruiz feels that it’s his courage that can win him Joshua’s numerous heavyweight titles. “He’s big,” Ruiz says of the 22-0 WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titlist, “but the advantages I have are in speed, movement and coming forward. Everyone AJ fights is scared. I’m not scared of anyone apart from the Man upstairs. There’s a lot of doubters out there but I don’t care, they only give me more motivation and confidence.”

More Headlines

Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, Jr. Workout Quotes


Heavyweight king Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) of the United Kingdom and dangerous Mexican challenger Andy Ruiz, Jr. (32-1, 21 KOs) worked out in front of a packed crowd at Brookfield Place in New York’s Financial District just days before their heavyweight title tilt at Madison Square Garden. Joshua will defend his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO World Heavyweight Championship titles against Ruiz on Saturday, June 1, at Madison Square Garden and exclusively on DAZN.

On the stacked undercard of Joshua’s U.S. debut, undefeated WBA Super Middleweight World Champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) will make his first title defense against former Middleweight World Champion Hassan N’Dam (37-3, 21 KOs). Earlier in the evening, Katie Taylor (13-0, 6 KOs) will face Delfine Persoon (43-1, 18 KOs) to crown the undisputed World Female Lightweight Champion. Taylor owns the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, while Persoon holds the WBC strap.


Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/DAZN

Today’s full live stream is available now on DAZN’s YouTube and Facebook, and includes interviews with Joshua, Ruiz, Smith and Taylor. A full transcription of the interviews is available below.

All fight week events will be streamed on the DAZN platform and social media channels. For more information, fans can follow DAZN’s U.S. social channels: @DAZNUSA on Facebook, @DAZN_USA for Twitter, and DAZN_USA for Instagram.

EPISODE TWO OF 40 DAYS: JOSHUA/RUIZ AVAILABLE NOW!

Anthony Joshua

On training in Miami: “I stayed out of the clubs. I went down to South Beach one day for some lunch which was nice but other than that, it was straight gym work. The way the team sets up my training is that I only have one day off in between, never two back-to-back days off. When you have two back-to-back days off, you have one day for turning up and one day for recovery. So all my recovery was based around that one day so I had no time to mess around.”

On Andy Ruiz, Jr. compared to Jarrell Miller: “I can’t really tell you because I never boxed Miller. Miller was a steady contest because of his punch rate and his physical size, you can’t deny that in the ring. But Ruiz, he’s more of a sound, well-balanced guy. He keeps his feet underneath him and has good head movement. You throw the right hand and he will just duck it, come under and hook you twice. He’s got that kind of confidence in his ability that he can counter-punch and he’s not afraid to have punches coming at his face and slipping them to get back to you. He’s not a scared fighter at all.”

On his United States welcoming: “I should be out there with the people! That’s what I am here to do, to meet people and all for the love of boxing. It is not just about me. It’s about the next show, about the GGG show, whatever is happening on DAZN. It’s just about connecting with the people so they can go back home and say, ‘You heard about DAZN and their boxing?’ And then the sport rises. This is bigger than me.”

On fighting at Madison Square Garden: “I am just rolling with the punches and not trying to get caught up in the hype of it all. The main time when you enjoy it is after the fight. God willing, I win. Then I will look and say, ‘Wow, I’ve really done it at Madison Square Garden.’ I just don’t want to take part, I want to own the night. And that’s why I need to win.”

On managing fighters on the undercard: “I’m fighting, managing fighters. Everything rolled into one. One aspect of the night into another aspect. My winning is their winning then it’s easier for them to do their job. I remember I was fighting on other people’s undercards as well and if I never said it, I want to thank those people for giving me the exposure to be in the position that I am in right now.”

On his entrance music: “I’ve been thinking about it. Thinking about the ‘Dipset Anthem.’ Possibly Meek Mill’s ‘Dreams and Nightmares.’ It has to be something from the east coast. Maybe Biggie. The song inspires but so does the crowd. They give that energy, too. I remember in the Olympics, I had been fighting only two-and-a-half years and then I’m in the Olympics so I am thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ I remember trying to block out the energy of the crowd. But it’s impossible, you use to much energy trying to do that. So I just absorb all that energy, take that frequency and bring it into the ring. You can’t block it out, you need to absorb.”

On Deontay Wilder’s first-round knockout: “Oh, that was a good one, that was a good one! I am going to be in there in the first round trying to knock out Ruiz but if it don’t happen, it don’t happen. But as long as I get the win, it puts me on that path. And like I have said before, I think Wilder and I need to sit down man to man and talk about how we get this fight made.”

Andy Ruiz

On being the underdog: “Everyone has always doubted me. But look, I came so far, coming from a small town, a small city and now I am doing great things. I am fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of the world. I’m here to make history and to become the first Mexican Heavyweight Champion.”

On the pressure of fighting Anthony Joshua: “There’s a lot of pressure on me but I think Anthony Joshua has more to lose fighting a dangerous fighter like me. I am a better opponent than all of the other opponents they were talking about. I am here to win it all.”

Callum Smith

On being distracted by a possible Canelo fight: “The fact is, with Canelo, is that if I slip up on Saturday night, that fight doesn’t happen. That’s gone. So that’s what keeps me motivated – that I have to come here this Saturday and win to keep those massive fights alive. I’m fully focused on June 1st. I’m in a very good place and I had a great training camp.”

On fighting at Madison Square Garden: “This is another amazing moment and that’s what I am in boxing for. I want big nights and big fights. Winning the WBSS tournament was a special night and defending that title at Madison Square Garden would be special as well. That is what is keeping me in boxing, that stuff excites me and motivates me.”

On fighting Hassan N’Dam: “He is a good opponent, a very experienced opponent and a former World Champion. Only the very best have beat him. But I believe that I am one of the very best and I should be good enough to beat him. This is no easy fight because he is a tough customer. I am expecting a tough fight and prepared for the best possible Hassan N’Dam. But if the best version of me turns up, I beat the any version of him.”

On being the standout on Saturday’s card: “Hopefully. I hope to steal some headlines and impress with a good knockout or impressive win. But it’s a very good show, some of Britain’s best on the bill. Katie Taylor is on the show and is a special talent fighting for the undisputed lightweight crown. Josh Kelly and Josh Buatsi are both great prospects. It’s a great show for the fight fans.”

On whether he will stay at 168: “I believe I can do both, I can stay here or move up. I believe I can stay at 168 and fight some good champions and hopefully wait for the Canelo fight. Then when I’ve fully satisfied, I can move up to 175. That’s definitely a possibility but there’s still a lot to achieve at 168. 175 is an interesting division because they are all pretty much as good as each other and there are no standouts. It’s a very good division and one that I could look to enter in a year or two. But 168 is my division right now.”

Katie Taylor

On fighting for the undisputed lightweight crown: “It is amazing to be here. I’ve had to pinch myself that I am fighting for the undisputed championship of the world in just a few days. I know how big of a challenge it is and how tough of an opponent she is. This is why I have trained so hard over these past few years. I have locked myself away over these last few months and went through the trenches to prepare.”

On taking the open workout seriously: “I figure that I should get something out of it if I am here. Just looking at the big crowd here, you can’t help but get excited about this big fight night. I am just hyped up right now.”

On feeling pressure: “There’s a little bit of pressure but pressure is a privilege. It’s just great to be in this position and I would rather be in this position than not. I am going to fight for the undisputed championship in front of so many Irish people but I have dealt with this kind of pressure before.”

On her rise to this spot: “My goal has always been to become the undisputed champion of the world. This isn’t going to be an easy fight, this is going to be the hardest fight of my career. This is a tough, tough challenge, but these are the types of fights that I love as well.”

More Headlines

Fight Lit Book Review: Fighter by Andy Lee


By: Stephanie Kent

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Fighter-Andy-Lee/dp/0717183440

Book Review: Fighter by Andy Lee

When Andy Lee announced his retirement in early 2018, he was asked how he’d like to be remembered. “An an honest boxer,” came his reply. “A fighter’s personality reflects in their boxing style, and if nothing else I was honest.” It seems the adage extends to a fighter’s memoir, too. Lee’s autobiography Fighter, written with Niall Kelly, is a candid reflection on a life in the sweet science.

Glossy pages of the book show photographs of Andy’s life and career, and the chubby youngster pictured is almost unrecognizable from the 6’2”, lanky world champion he will become. Born to Irish Traveller parents in London, Lee’s boxing story begins from play fighting (and bloody, not-so-playful fighting) with his brothers. At age eight, he begins training at Repton Boxing Club. Lee had his hand raised often, even as a young boxer. “As a kid, I never wanted to be a world champion,” Lee writes. “I just didn’t want to let anybody down.” Quickly, we see his evolution from kid brother trying to keep up, into a talented, hungry athlete.

Andy’s family move to Limerick finds him on the receiving end of schoolyard bullying, loneliness. He finds an identity in boxing: “It became a part of who I am,” he writes. “The thing that made me distinctive, the thing I told people about myself.”

As he continues to add to an already impressive amateur resume, we see Andy’s account of the phone call that changed the course of his career. Famed champion-maker Emanuel Steward hears of Lee’s recent tournament victory and calls the teenager at home with a proposal: come train with him at Detroit’s Kronk Gym and sign a professional contract. Young and unsavvy in business, Lee respectfully declines, citing his focus on the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens.

Following a devastating, medalless Olympic defeat to Alfredo Angulo, Andy begins to imagine what’s next. Courted by the Irish national team and American investors, Lee reflects (not for the last time) on how to make impossible business decisions with a boxing career. At this early stage, he’s built a team of trusted friends and advisors, and takes a leap of faith. As the Limerick chapters come to an end, we find Andy in Detroit, with Steward’s sights set on making him a world champion.

The Detroit section of the book reads how it must have felt to experience: a quick rollercoaster with too many twists and unseen obstacles to count. Andy acclimates quickly to his life at Kronk Gym; he moves into Emanuel Steward’s home and the relationship with his new coach quickly evolves into something that resembles a familial love and respectful mentorship.

We see Andy’s full, but sometimes lonely life in Detroit. We see his boxing sharpen. We see training camps and fights and victories and opportunities… and then we see his first loss. The devastating play-by-play of defeat by Brian Vera reads like it’s been on repeat in Andy’s mind ever since. Throughout Fighter, the authors dive deep into each loss… like any good champion, Andy obsesses over them, tries to pinpoint where he went wrong. These chapters don’t read like excuses, but rather, a thorough account of how to avoid the same mistakes in future battles. As Lee prepares for a comeback, we see him navigate the business of boxing and the treacherous management of an athlete’s career; there’s an omnipresent pressure from Lee’s investors trying to get their money’s worth.

Losses in Fighter aren’t limited to boxing matches; Lee recounts family and close friends who pass away during his career, including the death of longtime trainer Emanuel Steward. The Detroit section of the book ends with Andy sad, grateful, and at yet another decision point: who will he train with in the next chapter of his career?

In London, he sets up with trainer Adam Booth and after a short adjustment period, the new team launches into what will become the final fights of Lee’s professional boxing career. Quickly, we find Andy center ring at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, as he prepares to fight Matt Korobov for the WBO middleweight title. Lee wins in a sixth round stoppage. The chapter is a thrilling account of what it’s like to realize a lifelong dream.

True to Irish literary tradition, Fighter is lyrical and thoughtful; the book is about so much more than it seems on the surface. It’s an enjoyable read because it’s the tale of an underdog fighting his way to the top… but it’s also an inside look at how modern boxing works, the business of it all.

Fighter reinforces what many fight fans already know about Andy Lee: he’s likeable (what’s not to love about a bloke who wears track pants to a concert, surrounded by tuxedos?) and his humility is unmatched (“One punch won it for me tonight, and one punch could end it all just as quickly the next time”). There’s a kindness in the way Lee speaks of his sport and fellow athletes, but this doesn’t detract from his ferocity or commitment to it. On the final pages, we’re left with the sense that his work ethic is somehow contagious; above all, Fighter is the kind of book that makes you want to work harder, to master your craft, whatever it may be.

More Book Reviews

Joseph Parker Brings World Title to New Zealand​


Joseph Parker Brings World Title to New Zealand​
By: Eric Lunger

​Joseph Parker (22-0, 18 KO’s) made history last Saturday night, when he became the first heavyweight titlist from New Zealand, outpointing a tough and relentless Andy Ruiz Jr (29-1, 19 KO’s) to capture the vacant WBO belt. But there was more at stake than simply the title: this was Parker’s home fight, the culmination of a long campaign orchestrated by manager Kevin Barry and the Duco Events team. It was Parker’s debut on HBO and his first real introduction to an international audience. And it was Parker’s chance to make an emphatic statement to the rest of the division. Was the failure to score a dramatic stoppage a missed opportunity?

img_1796

Maybe. Or, was Parker’s discipline and adherence to his game plan – his resistance to the temptation to trade recklessly in the center of the ring – itself a statement about his maturity and ring generalship?

​Obviously, Parker fans wanted a knockout, and that would have been a more persuasive argument that Joseph is ready to face the top names in the division. But there were two boxers in the ring at the Vector Arena in Auckland, and Andy Ruiz had his own statement to make. Ruiz came forward aggressively from the opening bell, keeping his guard high and trying to engage Parker from a midrange distance. Parker seemed uncomfortable at first, as though he couldn’t quite set himself to the distance that Ruiz was imposing. Parker likes to jab from a low left hand, but that requires his opponent staying at range. As the fight went on, Parker did establish his jab, but he never dominated Ruiz.

​Ruiz also presented a remarkably versatile defense, blocking a great number of punches with his hands and forearms. Forced to adapt, Parker employed a variety of offensive weapons, but he never lost his composure, never went for the risky gamble. Abel Sanchez, who trained Ruiz for this fight (and probably would have wanted a few more months in the gym), said in the lead up to the fight that these type of bouts often come down to the fighter who can impose his will on the other. In my view, neither fighter reached that point. Parker was able to fight offensively off his back foot, and he was able to adjust his jab. But it meant that it was a close and narrowly won bout, as the scores indicated (114-114, 115-113, 115-113).

​So, if Parker was not able to make the kind of statement he and his team might have wanted, the fans did see a competitive and compelling fight. To me it was more authentic than the bout in Manchester, UK, on the same night, where Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KO’s) blasted a listless Eric Molina (25-4, 19 KO’s) in three rounds, in what was essentially a stage-managed lead up to the Joshua vs Klitschko announcement. Presumably, Molina was allowed to dust himself off before Klitschko and Joshua took over the show in the ring. I mean no disrespect to Joshua, and I think the April bout between him and the elder statesman of the heavyweight division will be great for the sport. But let’s not pretend that the Joshua vs. Molina bout was anything more than theatre.

So where does that leave Parker? Well, he has the WBO belt, and that has to mean something. He is a world champion, but at age 24 with only 99 pro rounds, he has plenty of room for growth and development. Should he be in the ring with Deontay Wilder (the WBC champ) in April as part of the Joshua vs. Klitschko undercard? David Higgins of Duco Events has bandied that idea about in the local New Zealand press. I suspect that Joseph’s team will take their time with him, and not let one title belt cloud their judgment. New Zealand has its heavyweight world champion now, but there remain many steps on the journey for Joseph Parker.

More Headlines

HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Parker vs. Ruiz, Beltran vs. Menard, Terence Crawford vs. John Molina


HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Parker vs. Ruiz, Beltran vs. Menard, Terence Crawford vs. John Molina
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night HBO and Top Rank Promotions will team up to televise three bouts from two different locations.

Terence Crawford will defend his WBO and WBC Junior Welterweight titles in the main event of the evening against John Molina live from Omaha, Nebraska. Additionally, lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran will compete against rising prospect Mason Menard as the co-main event of the Nebraska card.
img_1712

It was also recently announced that Top Rank will promote Joseph Parker in the United States; and HBO has decided to show the WBO Heavyweight Title Bout between Parker and Ruiz on a same day tape delay from Auckland, New Zealand.

The following is a preview of all three televised bouts.

Joseph Parker (21-0) vs. Andy Ruiz (29-0); WBO Heavyweight Title

Joseph Parker will be fighting in his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand and will be the favorite coming into this bout.

He has already fought four times in 2016, and four of his past five fights have been by TKO/KO. He is twenty four years old and is three years younger than his opponent. He will also have a two inch height advantage and a two inch reach advantage on Ruiz. Ruiz has also been fairly active and has fought three times in 2016.

Joseph Parker has the heavier hands of the two boxers. He has stopped eighteen of his opponents, and four of his past five fights have ended by TKO/KO. Ruiz has stopped nineteen of his opponents, but only two of his past five opponents failed to go the distance.

They both have had moderate success as an amateur. Ruiz was a Mexican National Amateur Champion and Parker medaled in several international competitions as an amateur.

Parker has a slight edge in quality of opposition. He has defeated the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko, Carlos Takam, and Bowie Tupou. Ruiz has defeated the likes of an aged Ray Austin and Siarhei Liakhovich.

Ruiz is a good enough of a boxer to last all twelve rounds, but it will be extremely difficult for him to pull out a victory in Parker’s home country of New Zealand.

Raymundo Beltran (31-7-1) vs. Mason Menard (32-1); Lightweights

The opening bout of the night in Omaha, Nebraska will be between Ray Beltran and Mason Menard in the lightweight division.

Beltran is a former sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao and is a rugged, tough, durable opponent. He’s much better than his record suggests and is known for having excellent stamina.

However, Beltran is thirty five years old and will be seven years older than his opponent, Mason Menard. Beltran will have about a two inch height advantage and a one inch reach advantage.

Menard does have a slight edge in power. He has twenty four knockouts on his record while Beltran only has nineteen.

Menard became well known with some upset victories on national television, including wins over Bahodir Mamadjonov and Eudy Bernardo. But prior to those wins he faced mainly non-descript opponents and most of his bouts were in his home state of Louisiana.

Beltran has defeated the likes of Ivan Najera, Arash Usmanee, Ji-Hoon Kim, and Henry Lundy. He also has several losses, but most of them have come against good opposition. He has lost to the likes of Terence Crawford, Luis Ramos Jr., and Sharif Bogere.

Neither boxer was very active in the past two years. They both fought twice in 2016 and once in 2015. Neither boxer experienced a great deal of success on the international stage as an amateur.

Menard has surprised many with his two latest victories, but Beltran is a big step up in competition for him and isn’t past his prime yet. This should be a fight that Beltran wins through a hard fought decision.

Terence Crawford (29-0) vs. John Molina (29-6); WBO/WBC Junior Welterweight Titles

Terence Crawford is one of Top Rank Promotions’ biggest stars and has been a rumored opponent for Manny Pacquiao in the future.

Crawford regularly fights in Omaha and will have a nearly sold out venue cheering him on.

He’s twenty nine years old and is in the middle of his athletic prime. He’s four years younger than Molina, but will be giving up about two and a half inches in height as well as an inch in reach.

Crawford has been fairly active for a champion and fought twice in 2016 and twice in 2015. Molina has only fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.

Crawford has twenty stoppage victories and three of his past five fights did not go the distance. Molina has twenty three stoppage wins, but has gone 3-3 in his past six fights.

Molina is always a dangerous fighter, and this was evident in his last upset victory over the hard hitting Provodnikov. He has also defeated the likes of Mickey Bey, Dannie Williams, and Henry Lundy. However, Molina also has an impressive list of opponents that he has lost to. These fighters include Antonio DeMarco, Andrey Klimov, Lucas Matthysse, Humberto Soto, and Adrien Broner.

Crawford has never been defeated and has been slowly increasing the level of competition that he faces in the ring. He has defeated the likes of Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Dierry Jean, Thomas Dulorme, Raymondo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Andre Klimov.

Crawford was also very successful as an amateur on the national level, and has even won a Police Athletic League Boxing Championship.

This is a fight that very few expect Crawford to lose. He’s a more technically skilled boxer than the last man that Molina beat and should be able to stop Molina.

Molina has been known for upsetting the apple cart from time to time, but Saturday is unlikely.

More Headlines

Expectations Building to a Crescendo for Parker vs. Ruiz, Jr.


Expectations Building to a Crescendo for Parker vs. Ruiz, Jr.
By: Eric Lunger​

​On December 10th at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KO’s) will step into the ring for the biggest fight of his young career.

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker with trainer Kevin Barry after defeating Russia's Alexander Dimitrenko. Burger King Road to the Title by Duco Boxing. Auckland, New Zealand. Saturday 1 October 2016. © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

With the WBO world championship at stake, Parker and his trainer, former Olympic silver medalist Kevin Barry, have been working together towards this goal for over four years. He will face a tough, undefeated and well-prepared Andy Ruiz, Jr. (29-0, 19 KO’s). But remaining focused amid a number of distractions and expectations is the biggest challenge the young fighter from New Zealand must now overcome.

​All fighters must minimize distractions in the final weeks leading up to a bout, but Parker has some unusual ones. First, is the best kind of distraction. On November 21st, Joseph’s long-time partner, Laine Tavita, gave birth in New Zealand to their first child, Elizabeth, while Joseph was finishing his final stretch of sparring in Las Vegas. Having a new baby in the midst of a run up to a title fight might be a distraction, or it might be the purest form of motivation to capture that belt.

​Second, Parker faces enormous pressure in the form of public and press expectations in New Zealand. Duco Promotions, a New Zealand based company, is calling this bout a major moment in New Zealand Sporting history. The company has brought the WBO belt itself to the country, and launched it on its own publicity tour, with the local media tracking its whereabouts each day. In New Zealand, Parker is often called “Gentleman Joe,” an indication both of his kind and humble demeanor outside the ring, and the respect he has among his fellow Kiwis. Furthermore, Parker proudly inhabits his Samoan heritage, and that island nation has backed the fight financially in return for significant tourism advertising. In a sense, Andy Ruiz can roll into Auckland as the outsider, and just focus on his fight plan. Joseph, on the other hand, has the weight of expectations of two nations on his shoulders.

​Third, HBO has picked up the fight, and it will be broadcast December 10th as the lead-in to the Crawford vs. Molina junior welterweight title clash in Omaha. When reached for comment, Kevin Barry characterized the fight this way: “This fight on paper could be the best Heavyweight match-up of the year. Both [guys] are undefeated, both are young, both have very fast hands and love to come forward in an explosive manner…. We are thrilled that HBO believes in this match-up and is showing it.” It’s a big stage, a world-wide television audience, in an era when the heavyweight division is about to catch fire.

​And finally, there’s the fight itself.

Andy Ruiz is a very good heavyweight. While Barry has played down the significance of the trainers, when pressed on the issue by the New Zealand media, boxing fans notice when a fighter heads to Big Bear, CA, and begins training under Abel Sanchez. Parker and his team know that they will be facing the best that Andy Ruiz has been in his career, and that he will come into the fight with a serious game plan.

​Joseph Parker faces some significant pressures and distractions as he makes his final preparations for December 10th. But that’s what you want, and need, if you are going to become heavyweight champion of the world.

More Columns

Andy Lee Plots His Return


Andy Lee Plots His Return
By: Sean Crose

Andy Lee, who was last seen losing his portion of the middleweight title last year, is now apparently rested and eager to return to the ring. This, friends, is good news. Why? Well, for starters, Lee is a good fighter. Sure he’s lost a few times (he’s 34-3-1), but he’s looked quite effective on more than one occasion – and against talented opposition, no less. Just ask Matt Korobov and Peter Quillin. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Lee can knock down a wall with his right hook. Yes, it’s a shot that can deliver, and that means Lee will always be an interesting fighter to watch.

img_1077

There’s something else worth liking about Lee, however, and that’s the fact that he probably means it when he claims willingness face Gennady Golovkin once he shakes off the rust. To be sure, the man gives no indication that he’ll price himself out, or argue that things need to marinate, or hide behind a managerial entity that can protect him. Lee’s record shows that he’s willing to challenge himself, win, lose or draw. Therefore, no matter what else happens, one might actually be able to believe there’s a top middleweight out there ready to challenge GGG now that Lee’s returning to the ring.

To be sure, Lee could give quite a few fighters out there some real trouble. He lost a close one to Billy Joe Saunders. Who’s to say Lee wouldn’t win a rematch – if Saunders would actually have one? Also, who’s to say Lee wouldn’t give Daniel Jacobs a run? Or Canelo Alvarez, for that matter? Indeed, Lee might well be able to beat each of those men. Could he beat GGG himself? One never knows, though it’s hard to imagine Golovkin falling to the Irishman – though there’s always that right hook to keep in mind.

As it stands, Lee claims to be back in the gym. He reportedly wants a quality opponent for his first fight back, then wants to shoot for the upper echelon of the middleweight division. Needless to say, it will be good to have the man back. He may not be an all time great middleweight, but he’s a pretty damn good one and he’s proven to be willing to – wait for it – take risks. Lee also comes across as a pretty nice guy, which is a good thing to see in boxing, where personalities can sometimes be as nasty as knockout blows.

More Columns