Anthony Joshua Still Favourite to Beat Ruiz Despite Previous Shock Defeat
by Glenn Baird - December 6, 2019
June 1st 2019 dealt a thumping blow to an unsuspecting boxing audience, one that will be remembered as the biggest shock in the sport since Oliver McCall landed that one good punch to leave Lennox Lewis lying motionless on the canvass.
There was no instant rematch and would take Lewis 3 years to regain his Heavy Weight, and despite going on to reign undisputed for a number of years there were always questions left hanging over Lewis after that shock defeat to McCall.
When Andy Ruiz Jr felled the Heavy Weight Champion of the World in Maddison Square Garden he was an 11-1 underdog, a mere formality on Joshua’s road to Deontay Wilder and someone’s unification of the heavy weight division. Yet for those watching the fight Joshua’s knock down was no shock. Despite dominating the opening rounds, as the fight progressed there only looked like being one winner.
Ruiz didn’t land that one magical punch like McCall. When Joshua fell Ruiz was ahead on points and completely bossing the fight. Make no mistake about it Ruiz deserved his win and if he wins again this weekend, no one should be blaming the bookies for fudging the numbers.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why he has been made the 4/9 (at the time of writing) favourite. Why? Because he has to win. Because if he doesn’t he can wave goodbye to a credible boxing career. Anthony Joshua has everything to lose, whereas Ruiz steps in with heightened expectations, with (you hope) a more savvy opponent, and another big fight with Deontay Wilder already rumoured to be happening after this one.
Joshua has dropped 10 pounds, but working hard in the gym and eating the right things was never been something anything could have accused him of shirking before. If there are questions to be asked, they have to be about fight and about heart and facing those demons head on. Joshua will have to out-box his opponent and he’ll have to avoid it turning into a scrap. Ruiz will do whatever he can to distil this boxing match down to the bare bones and turn fight into a brawl.
Perception probably has a lot to play in this. Ruiz doesn’t look like much of an athlete, whereas Joshua looks like a demi-god, a titan chiselled from stone. Ask a child to draw a picture of a boxer and they are much more likely come up with Joshua shape than anything resembling Ruiz.
Add to this the fact that the British public want to see Joshua win and you can understand why the odds are in his favour.
I’m not saying for one minute that Joshua won’t win, but anyone who has written Ruiz off might need to remember what happened in that first fight.