Source: DAZN

Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) vs. Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), the most anticipated matchup of the year for many.

While the first was largely seen as a mismatch going in, a stop-gap while Joshua awaited a winner between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, it turned into one of the bigger upsets in heavyweight history. The Nigerian-Brit had early success, putting his late-replacement foe on the canvass. After rising, Ruiz proceeded to catch Joshua in the process of finishing the job and eventually startled spectators by knocking down and eventually out the clear betting favorite.

A retrospective look showed that Ruiz was better than anticipated, but will he maintain? History isn’t always kind in these situations. However that is the great thing about boxing, you get to define your path, success or failure.

We polled writer and fan alike to see what their feelings were on the “Clash on the Dunes”.

Embed from Getty Images

Roy Bennett (CN) – Independent Writer: Ruiz

When Anthony Joshua put Wladimir Klitschko out to pasture the boxing world stood still.

The Watford born Englishman, a coffee coloured Adonis with a megawatt smile and the cheekbones to match, was a promoters dream come true. And, on the British side of the pond, a homegrown heavyweight world champion was something worth shouting about.

Enter Andy Ruiz Jr., stage right. A late replacement, he was supposed to be there just to make up the numbers but he wasn’t the least bit interested in reading the script. He tore it up then proceeded to beat Joshua senseless in front of a world wide audience.

Exit Andy Ruiz Jr., stage left. With all the championship belts.

The roly-poly, happy-go-lucky boxer with lightning bolts in his fists didn’t look the part of a formidable fighter. Quite the opposite.

But Ruiz’s performance reminded me of the age old adage that fighting is not bodybuilding and, by association, form does not always necessarily follow function.

So why is Anthony Joshua, the betting favourite going into this rematch?

It seems the bookies are banking on the rather hopeful narrative that Ruiz’s victory was some kind of aberration. Like an unexpected flash flood, a one off freak event not likely to be repeated. Evidently, Andy Ruiz still can’t get his due respect.

A quick aside.

I watched Ruiz fight live, in the ample flesh, a few years back when Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions brought him to Macau in the People’s Republic of China.

Ruiz stood in the corner before the first bell looking like a kid waiting his turn in line at the neighbourhood ice cream truck.

But when Ruiz got to throwing leather his hands were educated, fast and heavy. The wise guys in the audience who had laughed when he’d taken off his robe fell silent.

His opponent, Tor Hamer, came to fight but Ruiz, never ruffled, beat the stuffing out of him to force a stoppage in three rounds. It was clear this kid could fight.
Hamer was never heard from again.

As an amateur Ruiz was a student of the Cuban school of boxing under Fernando Ferrer. And it shows. There’s a smoothness in his balance, rhythm, timing and combination punching which enables him to capitalise on split second openings.

Ruiz has learned the fundamentals so well he’s able to operate freely without being restricted by them. He’s also well used to fighting bigger men than himself. Something that makes him a very dangerous opponent.

These intangibles, coupled with a finely honed fighting instinct set him a level above the the Englishman in my book.

While Joshua is the bigger single punch hitter, he lacks fluidity, fast feet and Ruiz’s whiskers. Up until meeting Ruiz, strength and power and a toolbox half full were enough to keep the wolves from the door.

Joshua, for all his potential and public appeal, is still learning his trade at the championship level, something which he should have gained with a solid apprenticeship after turning professional.

Rushed into an early title shot, his development as a well rounded fighter grew stagnant as the stadiums filled up, the millions rolled in to the bank and his brand took on a life of its own. Underneath it all what was best for the fighter got swept away and forgotten.

And now I feel the changes that have been said to have been made are a knee jerk reaction, too little too late for him. They should have come much sooner when he was younger and fresher and not ground down from repeated sixteen week training camps, orchestrated by people trying to justify their existence on the payroll with nonsensical training methods and advice the fighter didn’t need.

I don’t feel Joshua has fully recovered in himself from the manner of the knockout loss to Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in June.

Something in his psyche may have been damaged on that night. Another loss to Ruiz in a similar manner may break it irreparably.

Rest assured Ruiz, in much better shape for the rematch, will be out to prove he’s the real deal. June was no fluke. The ghosts of Madison Square Garden gave their blessings to the better fighter.

Ruiz by brutal KO in 9 rounds.

Zakwaan Shaukat Ali (UK) – TGTN Writer: Joshua

Make no bones about it, the first fight was not a fluke. When it’s all said and done Andy Ruiz Jr. was the better man vs. Anthony Joshua on the night. Forget the A.J. excuses about sparring, blah, blah. Andy Ruiz had the better game plan, was the antagonist stylistically speaking to A.J.’s style, who struggles with shorter guys on top of Andy Ruiz Jr. having blistering hand speed.The rematch will NEVER take away from him what he achieved on June 1st. Same with Douglas beating Tyson.

Remember Ruiz had the better experience too and it played a part, the better fundamentals and he was accustomed to fighting bigger guys since 9 years old.

Anyways, I think Anthony Joshua certainly looks more determined and hungry for the rematch. He wasn’t hungry in the first fight, criminally underestimated Ruiz Jr. I suspect McCracken will conjure up a cautious tactical game-plan to go the distance similarly to the Parker fight by jabbing and fighting on the outside. Andy Ruiz Jr. needs to do what he does best, fight on the inside, attack the abdomen, and unleash his hand speed when he’s closed the distance. This fight will test A.J.’s mental toughness.

This is a 50/50 fight that could go either way but I’d pick A.J. on PTS for this anticipated rematch.

Carlos Ortenblad (Brazil) – Fan: Ruiz

Ruiz will be too much for Joshua once again, but Joshua will be better prepared. The two boxers will be slimmer, seeking to be faster and correctly adapted to the harsh desert heat, in order to have good cardio and stamina. Both men will hurt each other a lot and will exchange knockdowns again. This fight will be decided by who wants it the most. The duel will be more mental than physical. Ruiz seeks to prove his win was no fluke and Joshua desires to regain his titles. This time, the fight will not end by a TKO. A KO? No. Ruiz will prevail by a close UD.

Rob Day (UK) – Ringnews24/TGTN: Joshua

I never thought that the biggest fight of 2019 was going to involve these two. I didn’t expect the biggest of fights to be taking place in Saudi Arabia. Boxing is a strange and unpredictable sport. You can expect the expected then be left scratching your head – the best-laid plans got smashed back in June.

Can Andy Ruiz prove that the first result was no aberration? Has Joshua become so rich that the hunger, that drove him, has wilted away? Saturday, we will find-out and the world will be watching. A routine title defence has turned into a mega rematch. More money and more views.

Both fighters will, likely, be a few pounds lighter this time. Ruiz because he’s had a full camp specifically for this fight. Joshua should be lighter, as he’ll want a bit more speed and flexibility. I’m not expecting fireworks early, I think Joshua is going to be patient. Ruiz will need to force the pace but is slow of foot. A.J.’s jab should be prominent and he’ll be wary of Andy’s decent hand speed. Joshua’s attacks are going to be controlled and accurate, increasing in intensity, as the rounds go by.

I am expecting a KO finish, Joshua needs an exclamation mark to end the fight. His ego will have taken a dent, in the first fight, and he’ll be determined to send-out a statement. I believe that Joshua will box a controlled fight, slowly breaking down Ruiz and the brutal finish will occur around the eighth or ninth.

John Einreinhofer (USA) – TGTN Writer/Podcaster: Ruiz

Ruiz KOs Joshua. Ruiz caught Joshua with a hook after being seriously hurt, but Ruiz was the one doing better in the fight both before and after Joshua caught him. Joshua needs a big turnaround like Wlad Klitschko and Lewis, the problem for him is Manny Steward died in 2012.

Jack Sumner (UK) – TGTN Writer: Joshua

I’ll admit, I was as surprised as any when Andy Ruiz Jr. toppled Joshua on June 1st. I did think that the Mexican might present Joshua with a number of problems in the early rounds, as Alexander Povetkin had, but my assumption was that just like the Russian, Ruiz would eventually succumb to the Brit’s advantages in sheer size and power.

Yet after the dust had settled and I’d had a chance to watch the fight back, the ‘upset’ made a great deal of sense. A physical behemoth Anthony Joshua may be, but in relative terms, he remains a vastly inexperienced pugilist. Joshua didn’t start boxing until he was eighteen. Ruiz has been practicing the sweet science since the age of six. Though AJ has looked somewhat prodigious and achieved great success as an amateur and pro, most of his victories have been down to brawn rather than brain. When he finally came up against an opponent who could not only withstand his power but also outmatch him in terms of hand-speed and ring craft, there was always going to be a good chance that Joshua would come unstuck, which proved to be the case.

Reviewing the evidence, Joshua’s assessment that Ruiz’s fight-changing left hook was a ‘punch from the gods’ also seems a stretch. Povetkin, Wladimir Klitschko, and Dillian Whyte all nailed him with the same punch and had the big man in trouble, while in the amateurs Mihai Nistor – a fighter not dissimilar in stature to Ruiz – gave Joshua a standing eight-count with the shot en-route to a stoppage win. Joshua has proven vulnerable to the left hook time and time again, Ruiz knows this, and is, of course, capable of using that knowledge to his advantage.

So Ruiz wins again? Quite possibly. In fact, if Joshua elects to stand and trade with Ruiz then quite probably. But I’m not convinced that’s what Joshua will do. AJ knows his career is on the line here and so do his handlers at Matchroom. With big money fights against Wilder and Fury still out there, expect the cash cow to get favorable treatment on the Saudi scorecards providing he can finish the fight on his feet.

Joshua will use his height and reach to try and keep Ruiz at distance, land single shots at range when he can, and tie his opponent up when the Mexican gets in close, with help from a referee who knows the script and – like in Joshua’s fight with Joseph Parker – will break up the action whenever the favorite looks to be in trouble.

Navigating some dicey moments along the way, I think Joshua will do enough in most of the rounds to be given the benefit of the doubt by the judges and win by decision, perhaps controversially with at least one card that looks completely outlandish against the consensus opinion of most observers.

Joshua by decision

Jake Adkin (UK) – TGTN Writer: Ruiz

Getting straight to the point, I personally don’t foresee Anthony Joshua being able to make the necessary adjustments needed to beat a fitter/trimmer Andy Ruiz in the little time he has given himself. If he had gone back and fought someone like, say, Adam Kownacki, in the meantime, tested himself against a similar style, and then taken the rematch, perhaps that would’ve been more appropriate preparation than jumping straight back in there with the champ (although his willingness to do that is admired). I believe we’ll see a more cautious Anthony Joshua who eventually will be walked down and possibly stopped on his feet by the marauding Mexican. Ruiz Round 9 TKO.

Phil Rogers (UK) – Southpaw Boxing News/TGTN/Boxing Social: Joshua

I’m backing A.J. to “win ugly” in this rematch. Stylistically, the blueprint for success can be found back in November 2000, when Lennox Lewis put on a boxing masterclass to outpoint the dogged inside fighting approach of the shorter David Tua. Replicating Lewis’s tactics that night should bear fruit; keeping busy with his jab to head and chest whilst circling Ruiz and using feints to control the distance. He must not be tempted into a firefight on the inside and will need to tie Ruiz up whenever possible. I see these 12 rounds being a career-defining test of Joshua’s maturity, focus and hunger, but one he will pass via the judge’s cards.

Result: Joshua UD

Michael Atkins (USA) – TGTN Writer: Ruiz

As far as I am concerned, the rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua is the toughest fight to predict the outcome, this year. And I’ve gotten a few big ones wrong lately. Notably, I did pick Sergey Kovalev to, “tune-up” Canelo Alvarez (In my defense I wrote my predictions after a nap during which I dreamt it was 2016). Why is it so hard to take a firm stance? Because A.J. has every physical advantage there is to measure, except chin, while Ruiz, albeit a portly fellow, is a better fighter with a stronger chin.

Joshua is a much bigger man than Andy. Taller, longer, heavier. Physically stronger, Andy isn’t out there lifting mini-vans. Measured in terms of pounds per square inch of force applied at impact, A.J. punches harder too. Ruiz though, is a natural fighter, quick, reactive, unlike A.J. who is encumbered by having to think about every move he makes (This is why Joshua often looks robotic, mechanical). Ruiz has been fighting since he was a kid, and it shows. Garcia, who had never been knocked down as an amateur or pro, does have a rock-jaw, but Joshua did establish that he packs the power to crack it. This fight is hard to predict because Garcia was always going to have an uphill battle just to overcome A.J.’s physical presence.

I think the fight comes down to the intangibles and each mans mental game. Ruiz is stronger in both areas. There are questions about Joshua. Does he really want it anymore? Are there “ghosts in the attic?” If things start to go South, does he fold? On the other hand, rather than Andy being a late sub for a stay-busy opponent, this time he’ll get the “fight of my life” version of Joshua. For Ruiz, he now knows he can beat A.J., he also knows there is give in the big guy. The moment the first fight turned was the look on Andy Ruiz’s face after getting up from the first knockdown of his life, and how he reacted in the next 30 seconds. The shot that Joshua floored Ruiz with, and the follow-up right hand just after, were harder blows than the left-hook that Ruiz hurt AJ with moments later. How each fighter responded is telling. Ruiz stayed calm, focused and turned the fight around in a blink, A.J. fell apart at the seams.

That moment is why I think Andy Ruiz Jr. wins the rematch. Ruiz, mid-rounds TKO.

Christopher Carlson (USA) – TGTN Writer/Podcaster: Ruiz

The one-punch theme as the reason why A.J. lost to Ruiz is not all the accurate. Yes it did change the fight dramatically but Joshua had recouped enough of his senses to win the 5th round on my scorecard. He also landed several flush punches after the 3rd in general. If the fight goes all 12-rounds A.J. will get the nod almost certainly. I’m just not sold Joshua can stick and move for the whole fight and at some point Ruiz will hurt and stop him again.

Johnny Nguyen (USA ) – Expert Boxing: Ruiz

I think it’s absolutely stupid than Eddie Hearn let his cash cow, the “not-so-surprisingly shakeable” Anthony Joshua rematch the “1st Mexican heavyweight champ ever” in Andy Ruiz.

I get it…how else were they supposed to get the belts back? It’s a do or die. Take the fight and you make money fighting for the belts that you MIGHT actually get back. Don’t take the fight and you avoid any potential further embarrassment but end up as B-side in a Wilder negotiation later down the line. Sorry….real fighters go with their heart COUGH ego COUGH and not with their heads!

Here’s why I think the rematch is stupid and unnecessary for A.J.. We have 2 narratives to choose from. I’ll let you decide which one to bet on.

NARRATIVE A

That Joshua really is a gift from the gods. A god amongst men. He just had a Lennox Lewis (Rahman/McCall) moment. Got caught and couldn’t recover in time. Still immortal but just got caught like anybody could on any given night. That he was always the better boxer, better athlete, and true champion. That he was totally winning the fight and made only a small mistake (being too eager after a knockdown), which he learned from, had a wake-up call to rededicate himself to the sport, and now ready to continue his UPWARDS rise to his hall-of-fame heavyweight reign.

NARRATIVE B

Joshua was never that good. Looked vulnerable in the Klitschko fight, ducked a scary Wilder fight, and not even UK’s best heavyweight (I choose Fury, honestly). And in that Ruiz fight…he lost fair and square against a faster, more powerful, hungry fighter who actually outboxed him all night!

WHAT I THINK IS GONNA HAPPEN

Terrible stylistic match-up for A.J.. I’m sorry but I saw it coming. Ruiz has more skills, way more slick, way more finesse, better conditioning, and even better fighter. AJ got the size, reach, strength, and also a good bit of his own power and skills. I’d bet all the money in the world that his corner is gonna tell him to stay away and box long, jab jab jab, a few power shots here and there if they present themselves but just make it to the damn bell.

AJ ain’t going for the revenge KO. They’re going for a 12-round decision where I’m guessing some judge favoritism will be at the finish line with his gift decisions. It’s freaken Saudi Arabia, a notorious environment for human rights violations. Yes, I’m totally convinced they’re able to pump A.J. full of steroids and whatever else they need to do to have him escape with the belts.

But I’m afraid Ruiz will be too much. There’s way too much skill differential. He was jabbing him easy. Moving his head, slipping around his long shots. He had no problems getting inside. And what did we see during all the exchanges? That Ruiz had not only more finesse to avoid shots, but he also had the better chin to take them. A.J. is not much of a mover, and not smooth or energetic enough to maul on the inside. A.J.’s jab doesn’t snap enough and Ruiz’s jab (especially that double jab) moves A.J. back too easily. I’m sorry but no way no how does Ruiz lose this except on some bullshit scorecards.

I’m picking both of them to be more cautious. A.J. avoiding exchanges. Ruiz avoiding those big right hands and left hooks. My guess is they’ll both be disciplined until Ruiz’s corner tells him he needs to win rounds big…or A.J. gets greedy and swings. If I had to guess, I’d say A.J. looks great sticking to the game plan for 3-4 rounds until Ruiz puts on the pressure in the mid rounds. At which point, A.J. can’t help but throw big shots because he isn’t slick enough to do anything else. At THAT point is when Ruiz proves the world he’s only fat, but not a fluke.

Andy Ruiz by KO in the 8th round!

Erich Edmonds (USA) – TGTN Writer: Ruiz

This Saturday, in Saudi Arabia, we have the much anticipated rematch between heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz. In one corner we have Ruiz coming into the fight looking to make his first defense of his heavyweight titles after dismantling Joshua in their first bout. In the other corner we have Joshua looking to regain his titles and prove that he still deserves to be listed among the top heavyweights. Admittedly, not being too familiar with Ruiz before their first fight, I wrote him off as a last minute fill in that Joshua would destroy, just like he had done in the past to much bigger and seemingly more dangerous opponents. Ruiz proved to the world that would not be the case while using blistering hand speed, power, timing and a good chin to hand Joshua his first loss. That being said, I see this as a 50/50 fight that could end with either man winning. Both fighters appear to be coming into the fight with slimmer physiques, whether this will work to either fighters advantage is up for debate. Ruiz needs to keep doing what he does best, use that hand speed to work his way inside, making A.J. second guess his own offense. However, he can’t be over confident and ignore Joshua’s power. Ruiz was dropped in the first fight and recovered well but it’s proof that A.J. can hurt the smaller man and potentially end the fight early. On the other hand I see Joshua fighting a more measured and safe fight, keeping Ruiz on the end of his jab creating openings for his booming power shots. In the end I think the biggest factor is the mentality of these two fighters. I don’t think Joshua has fully recovered mentally from the first fight and that those doubts will carry on into the rematch, whereas Ruiz is still riding high, confident in his skill set and knows he can take the fight to the former champ. I think both fighters go for a safer more measured fight with Ruiz edging a unanimous decision.

Jeremiah Preisser (USA) – TGTN Editor/Writer/Co-Host: Joshua

The scenarios seem near-endless here, with solid points being made all the way around. Trying to piece together portions of probability to form the likeliest path has always been difficult because of the complexity of the sport itself, and that daunting formula rears its ugly head once again.

Is Ruiz just a stylistic nightmare for Joshua, is Anthony capable enough to employ a cautious strategy and coast to a victory, etc. It all seems reasonable but in boxing you can boil everything down to almost perfection in the ring and still lose, especially when you weigh 200+ pounds. It’s a worn adage but true, it only takes one shot.

My guess is this: Ruiz has troublesome attributes for Joshua–the speed, the stature, the power, and so forth. But my hunch is that Joshua is adaptable enough to pull the rematch out. Whether he jabs and moves, jabs and grabs, or just limits his exposure time, he can get it done.

The Final Tally

Ruiz – 8/Joshua – 5