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The View from the Corners: Andy Ruiz Jnr vs. Anthony Joshua II

Anthony Joshua
Top coaches Adam Booth, Joe Gallagher, Peter Fury and Tunde Ajayi offer their thoughts on Andy Ruiz Jnr vs. Anthony Joshua II

Adam Booth (has trained David Haye, former world cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, Andy Lee, former world middleweight champion, and Ryan Burnett, former world bantamweight champion)

Joe Gallagher (has trained Callum Smith, current world super-middleweight champion, Anthony Crolla, former world lightweight champion, and Liam Smith, former world super-welterweight champion)

Peter Fury (has trained Tyson Fury, former world heavyweight champion, and Hughie Fury, current heavyweight contender)

Tunde Ajayi (has trained Anthony Yarde, former world light-heavyweight title challenger)

If I am in Anthony Joshua’s corner…

Adam Booth: Mentally, Joshua has the bigger challenge because Ruiz took so many positives from their first fight. Joshua didn’t take many.

I think the key for Joshua can be found in the second round of the first fight. He had a low left hand, kept his left shoulder forward and was walking Ruiz on to a long jab. He didn’t linger in any exchanges. He just kept it long with a one-two and exposed Andy Ruiz’s slow feet.

If he decides to be macho, trade with Ruiz and linger when throwing combinations, I think it will go the same way as the first fight. But if Joshua keeps his discipline, doesn’t think about knocking him out, and just thinks about one or two shots and then being gone, while using his legs and a long, long jab, he could comfortably outbox him.

I don’t know if he can do that for the 12 rounds, though. I don’t think Joshua knows himself if he can do that for 12 rounds.

The challenge for Joshua is when Ruiz gets close and starts firing. He can’t panic. He has to have some defensive game up close. For me that’s the biggest thing he lacks. He doesn’t have defensive maturity as a fighter. He just hopes the other fella will stop punching. That’s his biggest technical challenge here.

Tunde Ajayi: People speak about all these adjustments Joshua has to make but there isn’t that much to adjust. AJ caught him early and dropped him. I think maybe that resulted in him rushing in a bit too soon.

Although Ruiz was a late replacement, the people around AJ should have told him how this guy fights and let him know how dangerous he is on the inside. But he didn’t know. He went in for the kill and he probably didn’t respect Ruiz the way he should have respected him. Therein lies the problem.

It wasn’t a lucky punch from Ruiz. It was a calculated punch. I just think that this time AJ will be a lot more cautious and wary of it. I think AJ will get on his jab and when he sees an opening, he will take it. But this time when he takes it, he won’t rush it.

Because of his power, I don’t think AJ is going to try to box for 12 rounds. That will be going against type. That’s what I don’t understand. People make one mistake and then want to change everything. AJ has never been a boxer who outboxes guys for 12 rounds. Why would he try to do that now? It’s almost like you’ve had 100 tries and 99 times out of 100 you’ve been right. Now the one time you’re wrong you’re going to use as a reason to change everything. No, that’s not how it works.

Joe Gallagher: Obviously his eyes and mind are on the ball for this fight. Last time he would have been focused on (original opponent) Jarrell Miller and then, after he pulled out, didn’t really give Ruiz the respect he deserved.

I was surprised to see how easy Ruiz found taking the centre of the ring and moving AJ around. Also, when Ruiz got dropped, he recovered and got up. When AJ got hurt and dropped, he didn’t recover. We saw something similar against Wladimir Klitschko. It takes him a round or two. He still holds the shot.

Going into the rematch Ruiz will be thinking, When I land, I’ve got you in trouble for a while. AJ, on the other hand, will be thinking, When I hit him, he’s going to either take it or go down and get back up. There’s lots of mental stuff going on with these two.

I’ve not seen AJ do 12 rounds or a large amount of rounds outboxing someone without getting caught. Even against Joseph Parker he was caught.

I don’t think Ruiz is just going to stand there and let AJ jab-jab-jab his way to victory. Not when he knows he can get to him with one punch. So, Joshua needs good basic skills, good sharp jabs and to not throw too many punches. He needs to nullify Ruiz when he gets in close. Stop him throwing his fast hands. Lean on him. Tie him up. Box at range and when you do get close be sharp. Don’t get involved in a short man’s fight against someone throwing short punches. There will be only one winner in that because Ruiz has fast hands and has had a very good apprenticeship.

Joshua vs Ruiz
Joshua at Madison Square Garden

If I am in Andy Ruiz Jnr’s corner…

Peter Fury: Same again. If I’m in Ruiz’s corner, I’d make sure he’s super fit and sharp. Not just sharp with his hands but sharp with his feet. Because that’s where Ruiz falls short for me. He’s got terrific hand speed, but his feet are slow.

Ruiz needs to be quick on his feet and not just rely on power. He has to open Joshua up with his boxing, not just think he’s going to walk in, sway up and down, and land a big bomb. If he thinks like that, he’ll get knocked out.

I knew how good Ruiz was going into the first fight and I also knew Joshua has been using his big punch to cover up a lot of flaws. He’s used a lot of get-out-of-jail-free cards already. There are some serious weaknesses in his boxing and something like that was going to happen sooner or later.

How hungry is Ruiz now? He’s got a taste of it, but does he now want it more than life itself? That’s the key. It’s all right talking it but putting the hours in and being totally dedicated is another matter.

One thing’s for sure, Ruiz is very relaxed and will put on a good show. The kid can fight. He’s a natural. He won’t be overawed by this.

But on a technical side, he can’t just come in willy-nilly. Joshua has had him down. He knows he can punch. He has to be careful.

Adam Booth: Has Andy Ruiz gone soft? He’s bought jewellery, a Rolls-Royce and his mum a house. It’s possible. But it’s just as possible he loves what he does so much that this thing comes naturally to him and going soft doesn’t even come into it.

Ruiz has proven he can take Joshua’s best shot, get up and keep firing back. Joshua hasn’t proven the same.

If you watch the shot that turned the last fight on its head, Joshua hurt him, started looking for him, they had a trade and then Andy Ruiz takes his head out and comes back with a left hook. What that showed me was he knows how to exchange properly. He punches and takes his head out.

Joshua doesn’t do that. His head stays high when he’s trading. Ruiz is a natural whereas Joshua is more of a prescribed, athletically built boxer. He has to box. He has to keep it long. He has to stay emotionally composed. He has to have defensive game for when he finds himself under fire. He then needs to get back that distance and dominate the round.

Last time Andy Ruiz didn’t have to move his head and feet at the same time because Joshua went to him. He was there for Ruiz. But if Ruiz has got to be the one who reaches for distance that could expose his slow feet.

Once Joshua got hurt in the exchange, and had the confidence knocked out of him, he was walking away from Ruiz a lot so Ruiz could just walk to close the distance and bang his body. There was nothing dangerous coming back at him. If Joshua had managed to hold it together there could have been consistent jabs and dangerous right hands coming back. You can’t then just walk through that to throw a body shot.

Joe Gallagher: Ruiz will be thinking, You can jab-jab all you want but sooner or later I’m getting you. He could have that mindset, or he could think from round one, I’m putting it on you straight away. I’m going to bring all those bad moments and memories back. I’m not going to let you grow in this fight. I don’t think he will let Joshua dictate.

If AJ is going to jab more, Ruiz needs to feed off that jab. He has got to slip on the outside, slip on the inside, get in and bang-bang-bang. If AJ is selective when he jabs, and keeps Ruiz guessing and not being able to feed off that jab, he will have success because Ruiz will have to take risks. He’s going to have to force it himself.

Ruiz doesn’t need to do anything daft. I don’t think AJ is going to come out and put it on him straight away. So, let’s go and put it on him straight away. Don’t let him get into a rhythm. Come out, move around and when the first jab comes, slip, and bang-bang-bang. Get in close and do more of the same. Knock him out of whatever has been drilled into him and drag him into that fight he wants to avoid as quickly as you can.

Andy Ruiz
Ruiz and his coach, Manny Robles, celebrate a monumental victory

Final predictions:

Tunde Ajayi: It will be over inside four rounds and the finishing shot will be a left hook. Joshua’s going to use the jab, move around and wait for Ruiz to come in. I call it fish and chips boxing: jab, jab, right hand. The right hand might come in the form of an uppercut or a straight cross, but the likely finisher will be a right uppercut or left hook. After that it’s good night, nurse. Joshua by stoppage (early rounds)

Adam Booth: A lot depends on whether Joshua has actually added game. Has he added game and understanding, or has he just done fun pad routines and got a bit lighter? Has he simply papered over the cracks?

Ruiz is going to be exactly the same, just a bit more confident. Because once you’ve hurt someone and got rid of them, you know you can do it again. As long as you’re not complacent doing the job, you walk into that first round knowing you can get to them.

I understand they’ve got a big ring out there (in Saudi Arabia). If Joshua boxes smart, uses the ring and keeps walking Ruiz on to the jab, throwing no more than two shots at a time, he can either get a late stoppage or points win. But if he loses discipline and ends up trading with the fella, I have to go with Ruiz. Undecided

Joe Gallagher: Andy Ruiz is not another James ‘Buster’ Douglas, and I don’t mean that as any disrespect to Douglas. Ruiz has had a taste of the money, he’s provided for his family, and he knows if he wins again he has a huge unification fight. I don’t think he lets this go easy. I think he may be losing on the scorecards at the time but will stop Joshua late. I have a feeling it could look like Frank Bruno vs. Tim Witherspoon. Ruiz by stoppage (late rounds)

Peter Fury: I’m leaning towards Joshua. But Joshua cannot be tense in there. He has to be relaxed and prepared to go 12 rounds. He also shouldn’t put too much meat behind his shots. If he does, he might flag in the later rounds and have a problem. He’s got to be ice cool, super relaxed and stick to his game plan. If he does that, he can win in the middle rounds or late. Joshua by stoppage (middle rounds)

Anthony Joshua
Ruiz lands a right on Joshua in fight number one

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