Setting the stage for Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Junior
On Saturday night, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the scales were balanced and history was made.
I for one, am happy to have been wrong about my Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jr. knockout prediction and invite the ‘I told you so’ comments from friends and family.
The writing seemed to be on the wall when the pair took to the scales; Joshua looking lean and hungry at 16 stone 13lbs, a cool 8lbs lighter than the first fight on June 1st.
Whilst Ruiz had added 15lbs to his portly frame, weighing in at 20 stone 3lbs.
Speculation was rife about why Ruiz Jnr. had piled on the pounds. Some said it might be because he was targeting an early knockout. Others said the trappings of the heavyweight title had left their mark.
Surely, he wasn’t taking his opponent too lightly? Surely, he wasn’t that careless?
The price of life as a world champ?
The obvious comparison for Andy Ruiz is Buster Douglas who, after upsetting the odds against Mike Tyson in Tokyo, also ballooned by 15lbs in his next fight against Evander Holyfield and was promptly stopped in 3 rounds.
In both cases, the riches gained by winning the biggest prize in sport proved too irresistible for the new champions.
After his humbling 12 round points defeat on Saturday Ruiz Jnr. blamed a lack of preparation and too much partying for his poor performance.
Ruiz, for the most part, looked heavy-footed and out of ideas as he plodded after an unusually fleet-footed Anthony Joshua, unable to cut off the ring to any great effect.
By comparison, AJ looked like a new man. Seemingly more mature since the defeat and certainly more focussed.
AJ’s winning performance
His performance could be likened to those of Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko following their losses; disciplined, spiteful and well thought through.
Critics have said that it was a boring performance but to say that is to ignore the subtle brilliance of our sport.
Joshua and Klitschko have been known to have a close relationship following their contest, perhaps the old master passed on some words of wisdom ahead of the big day.
Whichever way you look at it, Anthony Joshua is once again the partially unified world champion with just the WBC title to go.
Saudi Arabia: an untapped resource?
A unification with the winner of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder will be on every fight fans Christmas list. But, we may have to contend with a year of mandatory challengers for AJ, none of which are gimme’s.
Saudi Arabia certainly delivered on its promise to stage a mega-fight. and, in the process, have set themselves up as a new player in the global boxing business.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has stated that he very much intends to build on his relationship with the Saudi’s so it’s fair to say that we can expect to see more feature attractions there in the next year.
An emerging market is great for boxing. More money means super-fights but also the chance to develop talent from a formerly untapped resource.
For more boxing analysis, predictions and discussions, check out our Heavyweight Year in Review.