Ruiz Jr vs Joshua: Redemption or Repeat

Ruiz Jr vs Joshua: Redemption or Repeat

By Oliver McManus

Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua meet in sand-kissed Diriyah this coming weekend.

One question is on the agenda – will it be a case of repeat or revenge? Twenty seven weeks on from sending seismic shockwaves throughout the heavyweight division, Andy Ruiz will look to prove he’s no one trick pony.

For Joshua this is a fight that could go down as ‘make or break’. His aura of untouchability was being chipped away far before his defeat in June. Tough, rock and sock ‘em, contests with Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko laid down the blueprint to beat AJ and Ruiz got the job done.

Analysis, theories and dissection of Joshua’s performance has been cacophonous. Excuses were made on his behalf, though none by his camp, to try and explain away the devastating defeat. The truth, as far as we know, is that he simply wasn’t good enough. His mind looked to be elsewhere and as the pressure piled he failed to react with killer instinct.

How he can respond to such a loss will be the making of the man; not just as a fighter but as a champion. The way in which lost looked to be worse than getting knocked out by one concussive punch. Once you’ve been systematically broken down – from a point where victory seemed nigh – there will always be a little bit of fear hanging in the background.

For Joshua to regain the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles he will need to be first to the punch. Ruiz has a swarming style of fighting: he throws punches in handfuls in order to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm. That was showcased against Joshua but perfected over the course of his professional career. His style is blusterous and frustrating; there is no time to settle or think about your next move.

Joshua has to overcome that. He needs to box with spite and venom – to stand in the centre of the ring and dictate proceedings. Ruiz cannot be allowed to maraud forward with gleeful freedom. The Watford man knows how to control a fight and play to his strengths; not everything has to be highlight reel as long as it results with a win.

His trimmer, leaner physique seems designed to keep Ruiz at distance. To ensure he can’t find success on the inside. Should Joshua be able to carry off that game plan then he nullifies the overwhelming threat facing him. It’s important that the Brit fights with emotion, to regain his titles, but not ON emotion.

For Ruiz his approach looks set to be case of ‘same again, sir’. His hustling, bustling approach gave him the win in June and it’s unlikely he’ll change a career-long style. He may need to add a string to his bow to keep his nose in front, though. A change in pace or a change in distance puts him out of his comfort zone but forces Joshua to think about something else.

Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

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