A huge weekend of world championship boxing ahead with the eagerly awaited rematch for the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World Boxing belts between former champion and Olympic Gold medalist Anthony Joshua and late replacement Andy Ruiz Junior, who caused one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he stopped a concussed 1/50 shot Joshua in the seventh round at Maddison Square Gardens back in June earlier this year. Joshua was being billed as the next huge world heavyweight boxing star prior to his shock defeat and his pre-match odds back in June of 1/50 reflected that overwhelming optimism.
However, six months on and that optimism has almost vanished as the Ruiz fight reminded all the experts that Joshua is far from the finished article, he has a suspect chin and defence, his tactics and/or ring smarts are questionable and most worryingly, he doesn’t seem to handle the pressure of the big occasion well and goes from being a confident, self-assured, deadly and elite athlete when in training, to a quiet, timid and seemingly overwhelmed individual when at press conferences and in the ring.
This is by far the biggest fight of Joshua’s career with his reputation and potentially career on the line. It’s fair to say that Joshua was unfortunate the way things turned out last time and with hindsight if something like this happens again I’m sure he’d think long and hard about not fighting, as Ruiz reminded everyone that a fighter in his position who can box and hit hard has far less to lose, which makes them extremely dangerous. When it came to fight time, you could see the pressure and expectation was starting to weigh far more heavily on Joshua’s big shoulders than Ruiz. If Joshua was in a constant state of anxiety in the build up to the fight and during it, he will have drained energy much quicker than Ruiz, add to that a potential concussion, for which the fight should have been stopped a lot earlier and it all became too overwhelming for an exhausted Joshua, who was courageous and humble in defeat. Hopefully, that experience will serve Joshua well tomorrow night and he will use it as motivation to gain revenge for his embarrassing defeat.
If Joshua is going to exact revenge, he will need to produce the performance of his life tomorrow night if he’s going to win his confidence and self-belief back and that of his fans and the boxing community in general, because anything less than an early rounds emphatic win, will only leave more doubts, concerns and questions from fans and the boxing community as a whole. It will be a real shame if Joshua hasn’t got what it takes to become a unanimous world heavyweight champion and he ends up going down the same road as British Olympic Super Heavyweight Gold Medal winner, Audley Harrison.
As mentioned earlier I think Joshua needs to use all his attributes and superior power to his advantage and end the fight as soon as possible. If he decides to play it cagey, is to cautious and slow to get in to the fight, it will be a sign nerves are getting the better of him and if this occurs again it could be game over for Joshua as you drain energy much quicker when you are in a constant state of anxiety, which could hand the advantage to Ruiz if the fight goes the distance, which I think it will, as he’s already proven he’s capable of hurting and finishing Joshua when the British champion is physically and mentally on the ropes, figuratively speaking.