Hobson on Joshua vs Ruiz Jr

Boxing Monthly
05/06/2019 2:29pm

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Sheffield-based promoter Dennis Hobson gives his take on Anthony Joshua's shock defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr...

As the boxing community attempts to make sense of Anthony Joshua’s shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr at the weekend, a whole myriad of different theories for his loss have been circulating on social media – everything from a dressing room panic attack to concussion to being disarmed by Ruiz’s pre-fight amenable demeanour.

One of the more – perhaps – credible theories put forward though has been that Joshua could have been unsettled by fighting away from the UK for the first time. In essence, that, having to train in an overseas gym, operating in a different time zone, eating different food, and just being away from his usual routine and comfort zone may have contributed to him not ‘seeming himself’ on fight-night.

Dennis Hobson believes that there could be some truth to this idea.

The Sheffield-based promoter and manager has experience of taking top-level fighters ‘across the pond’ to compete at world level. Both Ricky Hatton and Clinton Woods fought in the USA under his tutelage, with the pair of former world champions enjoying different degrees of success.

“I’ve had experience of being in the USA with Ricky Hatton, and he handled it better than other fighters have [Hatton beat Luis Collazo, Juan Urango and Jose Luis Castillo in America under Hobson’s guidance]. He was only beaten by Mayweather and Pacquiao [in the USA], two world class fighters.

"If he’d have had better preparation and a better team around him for those fights – and I’m going to say that because by that time we’d parted company, which left a bitter taste in my mouth because of the circumstances – then he might have had a better chance.

"I did a fantastic job for him and would have handled his career differently to how it was when he left me. Apart from the Kosta Tszyu fight, the most successful time of his career was the four fights when he was with me, and three of them were in the States.

“Fighting in America though affects certain fighters differently. A better example is Clinton Woods, every time he fought in America he got beat, and he never did himself justice. Yes, he fought some good fighters, but I believe to this day that Clinton would have beaten both Antonio Tarver and Tavoris Cloud on the night, if he’d have boxed them in Sheffield.

"Nobody would have beaten Roy Jones at the time, so I won’t include him, but it might have been more competitive if it had been over here. Clinton, as tough as he was, couldn’t cope mentally and physically with things like the different time zone, different climate, different environment – everything about it.

"And I do believe this could be a factor in Joshua’s loss. I think it would have been a mental and physical thing, being away from home, and would have been a massive contribution.

“I’m not in Anthony’s camp, so I don’t know what else has gone on, of course. You hear things like he got knocked out in sparring, he had a panic attack etc.

"But, we’ve got a blame culture in the UK, when something goes wrong it’s always someone else’s fault. Joshua has to shoulder some of the blame himself. If he wasn’t right, then he was holding all the cards; if he didn’t feel right then he could have said ‘this needs to get put back a month’.

"There will be different factors why he lost, like complacency, but I do believe that fighting away from home is a huge contributing factor.

“Anthony has obviously lost that aura of invincibility now, like Tyson did against Buster Douglas. That’s gone forever. So, opponents will always hang in there now, even if they’ve been put on their backside, believing that he’ll blow up and they’ll get a chance.

"Opponents in the past have thought ‘this is a bit too much for me’ but I think they’ll be more inclined to try and stay in there now. He’s got to work doubly hard to get back to where he was, but Lennox Lewis did it, so there’s no reason why he can’t. Although Lewis didn’t lose to someone in Ruiz’s shape, no disrespect to him because he is a very good fighter. For me though, both Wilder and Fury would beat Ruiz.”