Ruiz vs Joshua 2: insiders' poll

Mick Gill
04/12/2019 11:34pm

Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

‘Heavyweight’ insiders tell BM that there are many questions to be answered in the Ruiz vs Joshua rematch, as Mick Gill surveys 30 trade figures for their big fight picks and predictions...

Logically, Joshua should win. He has all the tools - the size, the reach, the power - but what psychological damage is there? Last time, let’s just say, his heart wasn’t fully in it. Maybe the late change of opponent made him complacent. Fighting at Madison Square Garden, he thought he was at a garden party; laughing, joking, pumping fists with the security fellas. He never had his “fight face” on. If he uses the jab, I predict AJ wins on points but it’s not with 100 per cent conviction.

I’m gonna say AJ because last time clearly something wasn’t right. AJ’s mindset would have been on fighting Jarrell Miller. Then it changes to Ruiz, who at first sight looks anything but a fighter. Flying to and from Miami wouldn’t have done Joshua any good, either. Joshua should have been more patient when he had Ruiz on the floor earlier in round three, but he tried to finish the job quickly and got clipped by one dashing in. That changed the fight. Ruiz was offered a lifetime chance at short notice with no pressure on him, a ready-made excuse if he lost, and he pulled off the upset. Since then, his life will have changed massively. He’ll now have money. That might be his undoing. Those around him might not be so focused. If AJ keeps his distance, moves away, steps to the right, anticipates the big swings [he should win]. He needs to lock Ruiz down on the inside, keep his discipline, systematically break Ruiz down. He mustn’t try to stop him. He must get the fight under control first, then pick Ruiz apart. I expect AJ to regain on points, but there’ll be times of trouble and he’ll need to stay cautious.

I go with our homeboy (Joshua). I’m sure Rob McCracken can come up with methods to nullify Ruiz’s fighting style. Ruiz is impressive when he lets his hands go, punches in bunches. This time, Team AJ can’t fight fire with fire. They must minimise the exchanges, hit and hold. We already know AJ carries the power to hurt Ruiz. It won’t go to points.

I love Joshua and did all I could to sign him but I see Ruiz repeating, provided he’s been training. Andy was good enough last time with just five weeks’ notice. He took Joshua’s best shots and showed very fast hands, knocking Josh over four times. AJ stood off Joseph Parker, who’s not the end of the world. I didn’t like what I was seeing. He hasn’t worked on his defence and, at top level, they fire back. Takam and Whyte both wobbled him. Fighting in Saudi, it seems they’re just cashing in. If I was looking after him, I’d have wanted it in the UK with all the odds in his favour, a vociferous British crowd to spur him on. He’s not going there for demographic reasons. It’s all about the read-ios!

I hate to go against our country, our Olympic champion, but I don’t think AJ can win. It’d be great if Anthony could get revenge,
because they could then have a rubber match and keep the Sky TV momentum, because so many others make a living off that. AJ can’t fight Tyson Fury ’cause he gets beat and he can’t fight Deontay Wilder ’cause he gets knocked out. Last time, AJ got too big, looked uncomfortable in his physique, nothing was flowing. He’s got too many people around him. We were going to bring Ruiz in as sparring for Daniel before he fought Gorman. He’s got quick hands, good movement, and he’s small - all wrong for AJ. So it’s Ruiz. Sorry!

Well, I hear AJ had just 10 days off then got straight back in training whereas we don’t know if Ruiz has been training or buying
mansions. Josh won’t have had time to improve much technically but he’ll have had longer to learn about Ruiz. I expect him to be ready this time. First fight, he almost got Ruiz out, remember. It could go the same way. Ruiz is far better on the inside but I expect to see AJ hungry again. I predict Josh regains, but not with huge certainty. I got it wrong last time!

It depends on a number of factors. If Ruiz has taken his foot off the gas, been living the high life, been filling himself with false confidence, AJ could come through. But if Ruiz trains like a demon, I see a repeat. AJ has a good team and they’ll have had
time to analyse what went wrong. This time, he’ll have to stick to boxing, look for openings, rather than power through. Joshua must realise you need to be more than a powerhouse with big muscles to become a lasting world champion. He’ll struggle to stop Ruiz. If both are fully prepared, I see Ruiz coming through a few scary moments to take it. But it’s certainly not foregone.

AJ will need to move his feet more if he hopes to pull back his titles. If he tries to mix it and prove a point, I fear he’ll come unstuck again. Ruiz takes a very good shot. Eventually, AJ will have to fight and then he’ll come a cropper. Provided the new money hasn’t got to Ruiz’s head, provided he’s still hungry, I see the same outcome. Ruiz by stoppage.

I think Ruiz enters as favourite. He’s all wrong for Joshua. He’s deceptively clever. He set traps that AJ fell into. When Joshua threw combinations, Ruiz caught him between the shots. This time, you’d like to think Joshua can be disciplined and smart because, before, he took Ruiz lightly and his attitude was off. However, he did show he has the firepower to put Ruiz on his backside. If he makes changes, makes the fight boring, if he’s still hungry, I see Anthony regaining his belts on points. Being away in Saudi should help him to be boring. No pressure to satisfy a stadium crowd.

I’m gonna back my man AJ. I just hope he’s got his mind right and is training right. This time, he’ll need to be quicker on his feet and with his hands. Load up less. I was wary of how fast Ruiz’s hands were before the first fight. I thought they’d cause Anthony problems. The knockout loss might leave mental scars but I believe he’ll be motivated to get his revenge. If Josh gets behind the jab, he’ll be all right. We know he has the power to hurt Ruiz, so I think he will stop him this time.

People forget, AJ is still a novice boxer. He’s only been learning the craft 11 years. Last time, he made novice mistakes, took his eye off the ball. Hopefully, he now realises that you must treat all opponents the same. When one opponent pulls out late, it’s hard to retain the same drive and ambition - but you have to. When you first look at Ruiz, it’s easy to think: “Whatever!” All the Brits were singing ‘You fat bastard…’ at the weigh-in. They all underestimated him. From the moment you become champion, the whole division starts plotting your downfall. For this rematch, Team Josh will have had time to scrutinise loads of Ruiz’ past fights and know what to expect. He’s got 12 weeks. He’s now training a full camp for Andy Ruiz, not Jarrell Miller. It’s significant that AJ demanded this rematch ASAP. It’s a dangerous test but he had the mental strength to win the Olympics, box before 80-90,000 stadium crowds relatively early in his pro career. To regain, AJ needs to box “boring”, like he boxed Parker. Anything else, he loses again because Andy Ruiz has very fast hands and deceptively long arms. Anthony needs to keep it long but not run. Then, when Ruiz gets frustrated and makes mistakes, Joshua can pop him. AJ for me.

If AJ has worked on his defence, he wins. Last time, he just weren’t on it. We all anticipated a routine defence but AJ didn’t look himself from the start. He probably did get knocked out in sparring. Ruiz rolled and moved well, he’s got quick hands and can read a fight, but he’s no Mike Tyson. It was more a case of what Joshua didn’t do than what Ruiz did. For me, Povetkin is a far better fighter than Ruiz yet Joshua dealt with him comfortably. A good big one beats a good small one more times than not. I expect AJ to wear Ruiz down for five, six rounds, then he needs to get rid of him. The longer Ruiz is in the fight, the more dangerous he’ll become.

Much as I’m a huge Joshua fan, Ruiz exposed a few flaws, especially regarding how well AJ holds a shot. I fear Ruiz has got his number and we’ll see the same result, albeit in another great fight. While AJ didn’t really look up for it, the other kid grit his teeth and fired right back, which AJ didn’t expect. I spent a little bit of time with Ruiz and you couldn’t meet a nicer fella. Ruiz to repeat and even quicker this time. Never judge a fighter by his figure!

For me, the biggest factor last time was that Anthony had no fear. He didn’t believe Ruiz could hurt him and switched off. People
forget, he’s still learning on the job. I was extremely impressed with Ruiz. I’d studied him previously against Parker because I was working the fight [as an analyst] and didn’t think there was any way he could possibly upset Josh. He was another stone heavier for AJ, so I assumed he was just there for a payday. Wrong! Styles make fights and Ruiz will always trouble Josh. He punches when he gets into your space and every heavyweight would be vulnerable to that. But my money is on AJ by brutal knockout. Last time, he went in for the kill too soon, when Ruiz wasn’t ready to be taken. He’ll have learned from his mistakes
and corrected them.

It’s genuine 50-50 this, but both my head and heart say Joshua. If Tyson Fury is the quickest-moving heavyweight, Ruiz has the
fastest hands. When Anthony went in for the kill in round three, he left himself open and Ruiz peeled his shots off. AJ is neither the quickest nor most agile. AJ will have been devastated by his first loss so expect him to be a lot more focused. This time, Josh must box him, soften him up. These Mexicans are even more dangerous when hurt. You have to be very wary. Expect Joshua to box, beat Ruiz up from distance, then stop him in the final third.

I backed Ruiz last time and believe he’ll win again. I’ve always liked his style. Lately, AJ looks a lot slimmer so I expect he’ll bring more speed, less power, to the return. It depends who wants it more. AJ has all the ability in the world but if I had to bet my last pound, it’d be on the Mexican by stoppage in the mid rounds.

Joshua should win the rematch but he definitely needs to change what he’s been doing. He needs to ditch the weights - they just bring dead muscle - because last fight he had too much weight on him. Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe were big guys but never muscled up like AJ. Joshua takes being big to the extreme. He looked more like Arnold Schwarzenegger than a boxer. After throwing his hands a few times, he could hardly pick them up. He must also stop zipping about in camp. Last time he was between New York and Miami. It seemed he was trying to suit those around him. I hear he suffered some jet lag. Ruiz can really fight - he just doesn’t look like he can. He’s got exceptionally fast hands and I always suspected that a robust type would be the one to beat Joshua, who took two rounds to recover after Dillian Whyte clipped him. It’s a hard fight but AJ should win by

I go with Ruiz again. Never write off the little fat bloke! Reason being, he’ll have a lot longer than four weeks to prepare this time. He’ll be fully prepared. He has more movement coming forward than Joshua has: he’ll roll, roll, roll, then sling that right hook over the top. He’s like a little bull, a tank. To turn it round, Josh needs to hold his nerve, forget about that soft jab and instead deliver a long stiff jab followed by a long right hand and occasional uppercut. But I go same result. Ruiz. Stoppage.

AJ messed up massively last time. The moment I heard “Miami Beach”, I thought: “He’s lost the plot.” I don’t think much of Ruiz. He can throw a hook but he shouldn’t get near any heavyweight with a decent jab. Past British champions like David Pearce and Gary Mason would have knocked him spark out. Joshua is a much better fighter. Ruiz was just very fortunate to get AJ when his brain was somewhere else. With heavyweights, the biggest mug standing in the pub hallway will drop you if he whacks you on the chin when you’re not expecting it. Joshua opened the door and let him in. Another defeat would spell the end for Joshua, so he’ll pull out a performance. I see him chipping away from the ring centre, sticking the jab, dropping in left-rights and battering Ruiz until he falls apart. Joshua in four or five rounds.

AJ wins a very boring fight. He’ll use his height and reach to keep Ruiz on the end of a long jab, similar to how big David Price tamed Dave Allen. In New York last time, Joshua was too busy trying to impress the Garden crowd on his US debut. Despite his shape, Ruiz was fantastic. He did make me laugh when he quipped: ‘Matchroom only chose me because it’s obvious I’m not on performance-enhancing drugs.’ People don’t realise that, because he’s been carrying all that weight throughout his entire boxing career, his heart and lungs are used to it. He’ll have better cardiovascular fitness than most lean fighters. I expect he’ll last the full 12 rounds.

It’s a funny one. I hear that lately Anthony has lost some of his muscle and that’s a blessing. Muscle slows a fighter down. You need to be loose as a goose. However, it’s a concern that AJ hasn’t had a few warm-ups to adjust to the new body shape. Also, he needs to stop trying to play catch-up. We know he started late, but he had enough talent to win Olympic gold, had enough to win unified heavyweight titles. He needs to stop being too precise, like a mathematician, and really trust in what he’s already got. I don’t think he has to change too much or worry about his jaw. Just believe. Be aggressive. That’s what he needs to do. But I don’t believe he will win. I loved Ruiz. Forget the body look. He’s a fit, young, strong, hard, dedicated, talented lad who can really take a punch. He took the title in a great way. He’ll have elevated to another level now, so it’ll be even tougher for Anthony this time. Most fights are won on the training ground. You get the car in shape, fill it up with petrol, then enjoy it. Ruiz has it all, knows how to dismantle opponents, and wins a points decision in a hard, hard fight.

I go with AJ. He now realises how good Ruiz is. Ruiz doesn’t look like he can fight but, trust, he can fight! This time, expect Joshua to be more focused and fit for endurance. Last time, he was only fit for power. In Saudi, AJ will make Ruiz eat the jab a lot, break him down, then stop him later on.

The fight is all about AJ. If he’s learned from the defeat, he can still be the best in the world. Last time, his mind didn’t seem right
in the changing rooms or during his ring walk. Only AJ knows what was troubling him. Much will depend on whether Ruiz’s
mindset has changed since winning the belts. He’s a class act. He doesn’t look the part, but he plays the part. I can’t see why AJ shouldn’t win the rematch. He’s got the size, the reach, the power. To avenge, he must prepare to deliver a high workrate because Ruiz himself is very busy. AJ needs to look to win every round then, hopefully, he’ll bag enough of them to win on points and get the belts back. Anthony needs to be 10 out of 10 in every department. If he is, he wins.

AJ can win the rematch, if he gets his head right. Clearly something happened in America before the last one. We’ve all heard
the rumours that AJ got knocked out badly in the gym. A lot were shocked by Ruiz last time. Not me. I keep my eye on everyone in the division and I really studied Ruiz’s only loss to Joseph Parker before I fought Parker myself. I knew how aggressive he was. This will show us how hungry Joshua still is. He needs to believe; get back to what he does best, dominate from the first round, get Ruiz under manners early. It’ll probably start cagey, then develop into a good fight. For the rematch, I give Joshua the edge.

I went with Ruiz before the first fight and I do so again. He totally dominated Joshua. Ruiz has such fast hands. He’s there to fight and gets stuck in. Of course, it’s possible AJ could tag Ruiz. This is heavyweight boxing. If Anthony comes up with something different to last time, you never know. But I see AJ being a little gun-shy after what happened last time, which will allow Ruiz to push forward. I predict Ruiz will stop him again.

I backed Joshua first time and I do so again. He’s definitely got the attributes needed to do the job. Last time, he didn’t listen, didn’t deliver what his coach ordered. Ruiz proved himself a natural fighting man; good instincts, good pedigree. He’s been around boxing all his life. Last time, AJ gave his height away by opting to trade, inviting danger. If AJ can go back to being a straight shooter, batting around Ruiz before lifting those big uppercuts through, he’ll triumph in an equally exciting fight. But he has to stop him. The longer it goes, the more you’d start to favour Ruiz.

I was totally surprised last time. Ruiz doesn’t look like any type of fighter. I’d seen him before against Joseph Parker. He’s not the biggest puncher but his speed is his skill. He does have rapid hands. Today’s huge heavyweights just look for one big shot, whereas Ruiz is one of the very few who can do damage punching in bunches. Holyfield was the only other recent heavyweight who threw combinations. Analysing their first fight, Joshua didn’t bring his usual executioner’s instinct. It wasn’t the same Joshua that stopped Klitschko. He didn’t seem to want to get hit and I’m not sure he’ll have gotten over the psychological issues. We don’t know what’s going on with Joshua’s head. I mean, Ruiz can easily be beat. AJ did drop him first fight. But my dollar is definitely on Ruiz.

Last time, you had to question Anthony’s motivation before the fight and his attitude during the fight - but people make mistakes. On the night, Ruiz wanted it more and deserved his win. He’d not be denied. His heart and determination saw him home but he’s nothing special. Joshua’s team will know what he needs to amend and make the necessary adjustments. This time he will be well prepared. AJ will win the fight, probably by knockout. This is heavyweight boxing!

Since losing his belts, Joshua appears to have disappeared, gone underground, and that’s not a good sign. We need to know how his head looks, how he’s talking, feeling, looking. Ruiz is a very tough guy who knows how to fight. And he can throw 10-15 shots in one pop. Last time, Joshua didn’t know how to get out of the way or how to hold him when he did get clipped. Ruiz, by beating him, has jumped up 30 per cent in confidence so it’ll be real hard for Joshua to get his titles back. For me, Ruiz is a strong favourite.

It’s a 50/50 fight now. The margins will centre around Joshua’s self-belief, and ability to adjust this time, and for Ruiz it will be whether he really has the hunger to do this a second time around after the riches and accolades the victory at MSG earned him. It will probably be a similar fight, but I believe Joshua will find the target this time, be more cautious, use his height and reach
more effectively, and win by stoppage. Round 10 TKO.