This Saturday night live on DAZN, Anthony Joshua and his UK army will be in full effect at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His opponent is not well known, but Andy Ruiz will bring every bit of heart in the ring in his attempt to become the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Can Joshua make a splashy debut in America in order to draw enough interest his way and ultimately apply more pressure on Deontay Wilder?
For the last few years Anthony Joshua has packed indoor and outdoor stadiums full of avid followers of the sport along with a ton of casuals. Last year around this time, Joshua’s mouthpiece promoter extraordinaire Eddie Hearn made it clear that his golden goose is in no rush to cross the pond. Extremely large live gate after large live gate, amassed well over 300,000 tickets sold over a four event stretch.
Joshua had an opportunity to come over to the states last fall to face Wilder on Showtime PPV. The Joshua side turned down the offer claiming loyalty to his local fanbase was more important, along with the hometown advantage ‘A’ side fighters have come to expect in this backwards sport of ours. Another few rounds of failed negotiations led A.J. to supposedly signing a two-fight deal for Wembley Stadium. As the days turned into months, Joshua ended up fighting Alexander Povetkin, but soon after was on the prowl to find his next opponent.
Wilder fought Tyson Fury and for the first month or so of the year Wilder and Fury it seemed were on the verge of a rematch, which once again left Anthony on the outside looking in. Dillian Whyte spurned a sizable offer and we even heard rumors of a Wladimir Klitschko rematch. As it turned out, Fury ended up taking a 5-fight deal with ESPN and Wilder had a mandatory to take care of in Dominic Breazeale.
Without a high profile dancing partner, Wembley declined to host Anthony Joshua. In a surprising turn of events DAZN put in a humongous offer, low and behold Anthony Joshua is making his US debut. Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller fit the bill of a big and bad Brooklyn brawler with a mouth to help sell the event. As it played out Miller was juiced to the gills failing three separate drug tests. After a few head-scratching offers from Team Joshua were turned down by Luis Ortiz’s handlers, leaving only Andy Ruiz to step up to the plate and accept the terms. Ruiz may not look like much to the naked eye because of his exterior, but make no mistake about it, Andy is coming to lay it all on the line.
Does Andy really have a legitimate chance to pull of what would be the upset of the year? The answer is yes but of course he’ll have to walk thru fire to get it done. With Ruiz’s short and somewhat compact frame, closing the distance will be essential. Povetkin and Carlos Takam were undersized men that had limited success by landing short overhand rights. Ruiz definitely has quick and short punches that pack some heat and land accurately. Andy has decent head movement to evade as many incoming shots as he makes his way inside. Another note worth mentioning is the Joesph Parker fight from late 2016. Most think the fight was nip and tuck some feel Andy may have nicked it by a score of 7-5.
The important part is Andy has been in a meaningful title bout, not to mention Ruiz is in better shape nowadays. Needless to say Joshua’s 9-inch reach on Ruiz will make for a difficult scenario. Joshua’s long and fundamentally sound jab will act as a pole to keep Ruiz from entering past his comfortable. Once in a zone look for Joshua to land his right hand and scrapping left hooks. The body flab of Ruiz will surely be targeted by the 3-belt titleholder.
Ruiz being able to take Joshua’s power is crucial as will landing his power shot back. As we already know Joshua doesn’t use much of any head or upper body movement and has been susceptible to clean shots to that pretty face. The pressure mixed with skill that Ruiz brings to the table will make for an entertaining heavyweight affair. We could see Joshua buzzed or full on hurt, but at the end of the day, Joshua’s skill and power punching will prove to be too much for a game but overmatched Andy Ruiz.
My Official Prediction is Anthony Joshua by mid-to-late technical-stoppage.
Side Note: Keep an eye out for the PBC on FS1 with Devon Alexander and Ivan Redkach in the main event. Also, as part of the DAZN card Callum Smith vs. Hassan N’Dam and Katie Taylor attempts to unify the lightweight division.