By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions will bring their heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, to the United States to make his US debut and defend his titles against challenger Andy Ruiz Jr.
Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was originally scheduled to face Joshua, but a positive steroid test forced him to withdraw from the fight and allowed for Ruiz to step up and get this opportunity.
This fight card will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be streamed live on DAZN.
The co-main event of the evening will be a WBA Super Middleweight Title fight between Callum Smith and Hassan’ N’Dam.
The undercard is also stacked and features a women’s lightweight unification title bout between Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon. Chris Algieri, Tommy Coyle, Josh Kelly, Joshua Buatsi, and Diego Pacheco are just some of the contenders that will also be competing on the undercard.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
Callum Smith (25-0) vs. Hassan N’Dam (37-3); WBA Super Middleweight Title
Callum Smith is one of the best boxers out of the United Kingdom and Saturday will be the first time he fights in the United States.
Smith will have some noticeable physical advantages over N’Dam. He will have a large three and a half inch height advantage over N’Dam and he’s also six years younger than him. Both boxers have fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Smith appears to be the more powerful puncher of the two. Smith has eighteen stoppages on his record in only twenty five fights while N’Dam has twenty one stoppages on his record in forty fights.
Smith has beaten the likes of George Groves, Nieky Holzken, Erik Skoglund, and Rocky Fielding. He has never been defeated as a professional.
N’Dam has lost to the likes of Peter Quillin, David Lemieux, and Ryoto Murata. He has beaten the likes of Martin Murray, Ryoto Murata, Curtis Stevens, Max Bursak, and Avtandil Khurtsidze.
Both boxers had successful amateur careers. Smith has success on the national level in Great Britain and N’Dam has competed in the 2004 and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
N’Dam has the ability to pull off an upset, as he did when he defeated Murray and Murata. But he’s coming up in weight to face a good puncher who’s significantly younger than him.
This fight is an excellent opportunity for Smith to impress the fans in the United States.
Anthony Joshua (22-0) vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.(32-1); IBF/WBA/WBO Heavyweight Title
Anthony Joshua holds three of the four widely recognized heavyweight titles. He’s considered to be one of the, if not the, best heavyweights in the world today.
However, Saturday will be the first time he’s fighting in the United States and it’s against an opponent very few believe has a chance at beating him.
Andy Ruiz is a good fighter, he only has one loss on his record and was a former Mexican National Champion as an amateur. However, Joshua is a boxer who has never been defeated and has stopped every single one of his opponents except one. And while Ruiz was a Mexican National Champion as an amateur Joshua won the Gold Medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Joshua will have a large four inch height advantage and a very large eight inch reach advantage. They are both twenty nine years old. Joshua fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017. Ruiz fought once in 2019, twice in 2018, and did not fight in 2017.
Joshua has beaten the likes of Povetkin, Parker, Takam, Klitschko, Molina, Breazeale, Martin, and Whyte.
Ruiz has defeated the likes of Dimitrenko, Johnson, Austin, Liakhovich, Hamer, and Hanks. He has only been beaten by Joseph Parker.
it’s hard to imagine this fight going the full twelve rounds. Ruiz has boxing skills, but he’ll be significantly undersized against a man who’s skills are just as good.
This should be an easy victory for Joshua.
The Lasting Stain of Pros in the Olympics
By: Brandon Bernica
When the International Boxing Association ruled that professional boxers would be eligible to compete in this year’s Olympics, Hassan N’Dam’s dreams of winning gold could not be closer. A former world title challenger in the pro ranks, N’Dam chose to try his hand in Rio despite overwhelming opposition to the decision. Yet on the dawn of the games beginning, N’Dam’s hopes crashed down hard after a loss to Brazil’s Michel Borges kicked him out of the tournament early.
N’Dam’s exit hits home for the people of his native Cameroon. But from a broader perspective, his loss signifies the risks inherent in this new professional Olympian trend. This troubling curveball in the Olympic ranks threatens to jeopardize professional fighters’ careers as they stoop down to disrupt amateur boxing in the process.
The Olympics have long been the pinnacle of amateur boxing. Mystique infiltrates the event as young fighters from across the globe fight for the last time before they enter the murky waters of professional boxing. Instead of fighting for a new contract or a high-grade endorsement, these boxers fight for no more than their nation’s honor. Having fighters tainted by the pro game enter this fray runs the risk of devaluing gold medals into nothing more than trophies on a mantelpiece. Gold medals should be symbols of national victory, not tokens of individualistic success.
Of course, the danger most critics note about professional boxers entering the Olympics is the potential of harmful mismatches. Yes, N’Dam lost to an amateur, but imagine if the characters in this story were different. What if power-punching Gennady Golovkin entered and faced some overpowered 17-year old kid? The potential for career-altering injury would be much higher in an already scary sport. Young fighters grow and make mistakes in the amateurs without the fear of long, punishing rounds. Adding strong pros and fighting without headgear make the Olympics a hotbed for waiting disaster.
Yet for pros, forgoing their careers in search of Olympic glory doesn’t come without a price. Let’s take N’Dam as an example. Due to a new regulation by the WBC, N’Dam cannot fight for their belt for two years because he fought in the Olympics, even if he rises in their rankings. This decreases the chances that N’Dam lands lucrative, momentous fights in the coming years. In the future, expect more boxing organizations to take stands against this trend in hopes of preserving the quality of the amateur and professional sides. Most of boxing stringently opposes the new Olympics rules, so N’Dam may face ridicule and bias against him for his decision. In a sport where bias plays a massive role, this hurts.
Boxing needs to be tough on these professionals who choose to enter an amateur competition. Yes, I get it, there is a lot of positives in being an Olympian. But those positives don’t outweigh the negatives. Year after year, we watch as bad judging persists, promoters continue to run shady operations, and fighter safety remains dead as a topic of conversation. We can’t sit idly by and watch boxing’s own notorious reputation become its reality. The official Olympic committee needs to oversee its boxing section with more care. Fighters need to be suspended and educated for entertaining this risky business. It’s a slippery slope that, if not regulated, could drive boxing’s credibility deeper and deeper into the ground.
In no other sport do professionals fight amateurs. Period. Clear distinctions are drawn between the two ranks for obvious reasons. Yet because of short-sighted motives, these lines in the sand are more blurred than ever. Both professional and amateur boxing involve vastly different incentives, rules, and talent-levels. N’Dam’s loss showcases boxing’s parity at the expense of a trend that could eventually turn lethal. Everyone involves deserves better than for gold medals to be awarded because professionals find it convenient to take advantage of comically awful rules.