Phase Two: Ruiz v. Joshua – The fate of boxing’s heavyweight division will be determined in Saudi Arabia
A few weeks ago, Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz competed in a rematch of their epic 2018 bout, with Wilder knocking out “King Kong” in the seventh round. Before the fight, I stated that the fight was the first bout to determine the future of heavyweight boxing. Phase one is out of the way and now comes phase two.
Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua will be facing off once again following Ruiz’s dramatic upset win over Joshua back in June. Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn is praising this fight upcoming as the rematch of all rematches. The next few months of heavyweight boxing rests on the shoulders of Ruiz (33-1) and Joshua (22-1).
What will happen with a Joshua win? We are back to square one with potential matches against Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, fights we have been waiting 3+ years for. It also brings back a sense of “normalcy” for Matchroom, Hearn, DAZN and a majority of boxing fans. As it was previously stated, however, a Ruiz win can “break the wheel“, creating exciting matchups with other members of the heavyweight division. Some of them are being showcased in Saudi Arabia today with Dillian Whyte, Michael Hunter, Eric Molina and Alexander Povetkin.
In a sense, the legacy of Joshua is on the line in Saudi Arabia. Considered boxing’s golden boy, his look is perfect for the marketing machine. During the last bout, Ruiz was overlooked, to the point of Joshua handing him the heavyweight titles during the final press conference. Jolly at first, Joshua was crushed knowing the mistakes he made. Learning to improve on them, he has a much different perspective on the fight and Ruiz in general.
“It was a tough pill to swallow,” Joshua stated to Sports Illustrated. “I just had to deal with the pain and the issues of taking a loss against what people called a fat guy.” One thing we know is that no matter what happens on Saturday, Ruiz will never again be known as just a fat guy.”
For Andy Ruiz, he doesn’t want to wake up from the dream he having. Fighting since he was about six, as he has proclaimed, Ruiz’s fighting style is that of a speeding truck, but not many would know that due to his size. Picked in the first bout following previous challenger Jarrell Miller’s suspension, Ruiz credits his mom and his coach Manny Robles for getting him to where he is today. The journey has been a tough but exciting one to climb, and he doesn’t want to fall off the mountain just yet.
“Of course, I don’t want these beautiful belts to go away,” Ruiz stated during the final pre-fight press conference. “Remember I’ve been doing this since I was six, it’s finally paying off, and no way I’m going let these belts go. I’m going to die trying, and do anything that’s possible to get that victory. It’s been a long journey, long roller coaster in my life, and no way I’m going to let these go Dec. 7. Let the best man win.”
One thing that may be put into play is the weight difference. Ruiz came into Saturday’s fight at 283lbs, up from his previous weight of 268. Joshua came in ten pounds leaner at 237. Speed, power and the overall awareness of both fighters will be affected in some way. Take into consideration all the pressure both fighters have on their shoulders and it truly is a situation worth monitoring. Whether the weight remains the same is unknown, but expect some fun shenanigans to take place.
Boxing is beautiful when there is some unpredictability. Ruiz beating Joshua inside Madison Square Garden in June created a moment that will last a lifetime. With a neutral zone in Saudi Arabia, the Ruiz v. Joshua rematch is more important than the initial bout. With the spotlight on boxing once again, can lightning strike twice?
Prediction: Ruiz via round-six KO
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