What To Take Away From Anthony Joshua Beating Andy Ruiz Jr.
Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr. this Saturday night in Saudi Arabia in an underwhelming bout that aired in the afternoon in the U.S. on DAZN, that seemingly righted the ship of the heavyweight division, having the Olympian Joshua beat Ruiz Jr., a solid fighter, who will now go down as a modern-day version of Buster Douglas.
For Joshua, it was an awkward and clunky performance, but a win nonetheless.
Sure, Joshua won behind a jab, but it was not easy at all, as well as Joshua still has a habit of leaning in with punches, which could hurt him in the future greatly against the two fighters who appear better than him, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. The word that best describes Joshua’s performance would be disengaging, as Joshua nullified the action against Ruiz, with one of the smartest tactics being holding on the inside as his ability to fight in close was exploited by Ruiz in the previous fight.
Much like most major fights, the excitement prior didn’t match the fight itself since the pressure was hard for either fighter to want to take chances, as the stage was so large, and the paycheck so fruitful.
Each Promoter Has A Champ
DAZN and Matchroom Boxing have their heavyweight champion once again with Anthony Joshua, but now with a major blemish to his name with a knockout loss to his resume.
Top Rank has Tyson Fury, a man who had a world title and retired undefeated using the marketing device of lineal heavyweight champion to boast his dominance as well as the most exciting fighter in the division, Deontay Wilder who is with Premier Boxing Champions, who seemingly is losing most fights before brutally knocking out his opponent.
Each of these three fighters are with different promoters, who are using different networks to broadcast their fights, making money the major asset to assisting fights being made with any of them.
A fixed mindset would say these fighters can’t fight each other, but demand and money will say otherwise, as well as Wilder and Fury reportedly fighting at the end of February in Las Vegas, Nevada. The major hurdle will be how the fights get made, and with Joshua now in need to prove himself against the elite, what concession will he make, or will Joshua fight DAZN-only fighters and risk losing again without getting to the face the best in his prime.
Joshua showed us on Saturday, his heart can not be questioned as to beat Ruiz he had to look at his past in honest terms, now the question comes down to, does Joshua believe in his power like he once did? Since Joshua was beloved for being a technical fighter who was reckless looking for knockout, hence how he got knocked out by Ruiz.
In short, is a Joshua after the Ruiz knockout going to be more of a jab-and-grab guy than a fighter looking for a stoppage at all costs?
The Beloved Ruiz Struggled With Fame
Let’s not also downplay that Ruiz Jr. came in the heaviest of his career in a decade at 283 lbs (albeit with clothes on), making only his first two bouts which took place in Mexicali seeing him at a heavier weight for the heaviest division in boxing, the heavyweight division. For Ruiz, a lot was to be learned about him in this fight, does Ruiz want to be great, or does he want to be rich for life and remembered for that lone victory against Joshua? A lethargic Ruiz who rarely doubled his jab until the ninth round, couldn’t keep pace with Joshua who looked content to apply pressure, but not commit too much to anything, at first early, but by the end of the fight, at all.
Ruiz looked as though he expected his power to get a stoppage against Joshua, despite his knockout win over Joshua being somewhat of an outlier of his career which mostly saw him, as an active boxer, who outthought people in the ring.
This Bout Symbolizes The Struggle of Boxing
This fight seemingly symbolizes for me why boxing struggles so much in the mainstream right now as blatant bias amongst the major promoter hurts the sport. After an average performance, Joshua had loud celebration amongst people singing his praise and obvious bias towards the major draw, Joshua, to rebuild him in a narrative arch for the viewer. People aren’t dumb, and a lot of people I watched with loved the underdog story of Ruiz, and to see the prompt and circumstance of this instance, had some leave the room and say “…well, that’s boxing!”
Even though, nothing was wrong. The right man, Joshua won, the manner in which the victory was portrayed, was a turn off to some, as the whole DAZN telecast was rough around the edges, to say the least.
Joshua Looked Old To Me
Despite being only 30-year-old, Anthony Joshua looked athletically slower and less dynamic than previous bouts. A harsh criticism I understand, but for major fights with major money at stake, major attention will be paid. Joshua looked to be beginning a new phase of his career as a veteran, not unlike the famed mixed martial artist Georges St. Pierre, who was a dynamic young fighter early in his career and strategic late in his career, Joshua seems to be moving in that direction.
It could have been the fight, but it also felt like the way in which he moved in the ring was not that of a young man, and in the heavyweight division that is telling, as punches hold a different value and certainly weight in that division.
Now, what happens? Well, the heavyweight division moves on.
Joshua will more than likely stay in the U.K. fighting the Michael Hunter’s, Kubrat Pulev’s and Alexander Povetkin’s of the world with Filip Hrgović and Oleksandr Usyk in the mix when a bigger fight needs to be made. Joshua can fight one of the top two guys, but for the amount of money he brings in, does the risk match the reward.
Ruiz will go on to face Wilder and more than likely Fury as those two fighters will look to beat him more convincingly than Joshua in bouts to build up their reputation.
At the end of the day, a win is a win, and Joshua, a fighter many thought was the new face of boxing needed a win badly and did, and sometimes simply winning just fixes most of the issues and in Joshua’s case it did.