There is an old saying in boxing that has spanned true since the beginning of its time, ‘Styles make fights’ and for this particular match-up, it is certainly an appropriate phrase.
I believe Andy Ruiz Jr’s hand speed, stature, and underrated foot movement, which enable him to effectively get on the inside of his opponent, make him a nightmare matchup for a fighter like Anthony Joshua who is simply not fluent enough on the back foot, despite being offensively explosive and packing punching power.
This certainly does not mean I am convinced Joshua loses the rematch, what I am simply stating is it is a terrible match up of styles for him and a challenge he needs to overcome because he is the one that is at a disadvantage when you match up the styles and take into account the old phrase, ‘styles make fights’. Ruiz Jr’s style is effective against a fighter like Joshua, who can be a bit robotic and upright at times.
To win this fight Joshua has to be more fluent on the back foot and keep the fight at long range, that is an extremely difficult task over 12 rounds against a fighter like Ruiz Jr. Joshua was able to do this effectively against Joseph Parker, which was possibly his best performance from a ‘boxing’ point of view, despite the fact it made for a particularly dull fight. The problem is Ruiz Jr is not Joseph Parker and is much better at getting in on the inside, being smaller in height actually works to his advantage for this against taller fighters. (Notice how effective Ruiz Jr is at bobbing and weaving under Joshua’s hooks in the first fight, it actually enables him to set up some of the power punches that hurt Joshua and won him the fight)
To try and counter Ruiz Jr’s style, for the rematch, Joshua has trimmed down in the hope he will be able to move quickly around the ring and increase stamina, time will only tell how it affects Joshua’s punching power. Interestingly Joseph Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry has publicly said that his fighter told him that the hardest he has ever been punched is by Andy Ruiz Jr, Parker who has fought both fighters, is in a good position to comment. While Ruiz Jr only has 22 KO’s in 34 fights, his punching power may well be underrated.
While I do like Ruiz Jr to repeat the upset feat again this weekend, given the transformation of the fighters and the tactics that will clearly be adopted by Joshua this time around I do not expect the fight to play out as it did in New York six months ago, I do not believe the fight will be as explosive this time around and would not be surprised to see this fight go the distance this time around. Joshua will likely be much more measured in his approach, will try and tie Ruiz Jr up on the inside and try and box a much smarter fight.
If you are looking to bet the fight you also have to take into account that despite this fight being in Saudi Arabia, make no mistake Joshua is the home fighter, he is the promotional outfits golden goose, he will be given everything in his favor, this includes a 22 ft boxing ring being put in place to allow him to more effectively keep the fight at long range, also if the fight goes the distance and it is remotely close, expect Joshua to have his hand raised, there are multi-million dollar fights with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder on the line here, if Joshua loses, they are gone for now. There is a lot of money at stake here, just look at Callum Smith v John Ryder a fortnight ago, John Ryder robbed of a world title because Ryder v Canelo or Ryder v Billy Joe Saunders doesn’t do as well as Callum Smith v either fighter does it? (All opinions are the authors own)
Therefore Ruiz still has it all to do and likely needs to win the fight convincingly over 12 rounds or needs another knockout to win and with Ruiz Jr only around 7/4 I don’t think it offers enough value this time around considering how unlikely it is he is going to get a decision if the fight is even remotely competitive. I am more inclined to bet on the fight to go the distance which is best priced at 3/1 at the time of writing.
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