The last great heavyweight bout of 2019 goes down Saturday night and Andy Ruiz Jr. is being viewed as an underdog against Anthony Joshua.
The rematch’s tale of the tape is still in favor of Joshua as he holds a four-inch height advantage at 6’6” and an eight-inch reach advantage with a reach of 82”. Once again, a main topic of conversation is the physique of Ruiz Jr. The man is definitely not “chiseled out of granite” and the fact that he was a late replacement opponent has many seeing his win as a fluke.
Perhaps in response, Ruiz Jr. has lost 14 pounds to improve his cardio according to Sporting News. That’s where things get interesting. As an Olympic gold medalist, OddsUSA expects Joshua to have adapted and he’s said he needs to do so to expect a different result. The question is whether or not Ruiz Jr. can last in deep water.
Part of the reason for concern for both fighters is because the fight takes place in Saudi Arabia and this is Ruiz Jr.’s first fight outside of the U.S. However, we still give the edge to the new champ.
Joshua has a massive advantage when it comes to his knockout percentage of over 90%. Ruiz Jr. is at about 64%. However, last time Joshua was embarrassed. While he did score a knockdown against Ruiz Jr, “AJ” was downed twice in the third round and twice more in the seventh, bringing the contest to a close.
Why does Ruiz Jr. get the nod from OddsUSA? He’s not only in better shape than before, but knows he’s still being seen as an underdog. He’s also said in televised interviews that he feels Joshua quit their fight before he was put away. Joshua spit out his mouthpiece before the end of the first fight, something referee Michael Griffin addressed.
“I was looking into his eyes. He was struggling with something. And he wasn’t quitting. He was looking for more time,” Griffin said. “He turned his back on me. I picked up his mouthpiece. I don’t think in any sense he was quitting the fight. He just wanted those seconds, but the rules don’t allow me to give him those seconds.If you watch that fight, and you look at Andy in the corner, he’s reading the same body language as me.”
We disagree. Still, with the shape both men are in plus the absence of surprise concerning Ruiz, this one should go the distance. That just might be something Ruiz Jr. needs–another challenge to overcome.
There’s always someone who will say a KO came from a lucky punch or that Joshua was robbed on the scorecards if this one goes that far like we expect. Joshua went into hiding for a week after his first loss. Maybe he was collecting himself, planning for Saturday night. Maybe not. Maybe he was broken.
Going the distance like Rocky Balboa could be what Ruiz needs to really prove himself. Both Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, the other actors in boxing’s four-way for heavyweight supremacy are also giving the win to Ruiz Jr.
“If Joshua gets knocked out twice in a row, I can’t see him continuing to be fair,” Tyson Fury said according to BJPenn.com. “He doesn’t need the money and two KO losses is shattering to your career.”
Wilder echoed similar feelings to Premier Boxing Champions.
“He got knocked down four times, and then he quit. That is huge for me. On the outside looking in, to see how that fight occurred and everything that was going on, I think he’s going to be fighting his demons inside of that ring, not just Ruiz. I know he’s trying to cancel out a lot of things in his mind, especially, including me, his biggest and ultimate rival.”
Wilder went on to say he expects Ruiz Jr. to keep riding the momentum from the first fight but wished both men luck and good health regardless.
Perhaps we’re giving Joshua a bit more credit than his adversaries. We expect Joshua to be more tactful, relying on scoring points and staying outside. If Ruiz Jr. can top him on points, Sugar Ray Leonard’s post-fight comments about Ruiz will ring true again.
“This is a surprise to boxing fans and the world,” Leonard said. “You (Andy) are the epitome of don’t judge a book by his cover. I am impressed. Ruiz fought like a big man, and fought like Joshua should have. Andy, you proved all of us wrong, and that’s why I love boxing.”
Prediction: Andy Ruiz Jr. def. Anthony Joshua by decision