Boxing: Legacy on the line for AJ against Ruiz


BOXING analyst Nick Munday (@NM_Sport) shares his betting thoughts on Saturday night's big bout as Anthony Joshua searches for redemption against Andy Ruiz Jr.

Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua | Saturday 7th December 2019, 21:00 | Sky Sports Box Office

After one of the biggest shocks in recent boxing history, Anthony Joshua takes on Andy Ruiz Jr in an immediate rematch for the WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight titles this Saturday in Saudi Arabia. On 1st June, Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) handed the Brit his first loss (22-1, 21 KOs) to set up a mouthwatering revenge and redemption mission.

Largely written off because of his chubby figure, the 12/1 underdog shocked the world after climbing off the canvas to halt Joshua in the seventh round, putting him down four times in total. The better man won, without a doubt, as Joshua's flaws were exposed and he neglected his height and reach advantage.

Ruiz is fast, has a solid chin, excellent technical ability and knows how to measure the distance. He'll have plenty of backers at 21/10 with the bookies, while Joshua is the 4/9 favourite.

Joshua urged to box

Rob McCracken's, AJ's trainer, has urged his man to stick to the game-plan this time around: “He got the win using his tactics smartly against [Joseph] Parker. I think he's got to do something, not the same, but similar. He's got to stick to the tactics. Get behind the jab, start boxing and get the win.”

Joshua, who now looks much slimmer than he did in the summer, admits alterations were needed: “My style has to change. If I want the same result, I do the same thing in preparation. If I want a different result, I have to do different things in training.

It's too simplistic to say AJ should just box, keep it long and stay behind the jab. However I do think that's his safest route to victory. Replicate the Parker performance, which was admittedly dull, and AJ returns to his throne. He must be smooth, use more movement, win rounds off the jab, and stay relaxed under pressure.

Something to consider is the fact that Luis Pabon has been selected as the referee. The Puerto Rican doesn't allow too much inside fighting, especially evident in Wladimir Klitschko's bout with Alexander Povetkin in 2013. This could potentially hinder Ruiz's style and help Joshua pick rounds up.

The big-fight verdict

Joshua to win by decision or technical decision is the play at 7/2 (BetVictor). It'd be a surprise if this one ends really early, considering Ruiz's sturdy chin and McCracken's caution. The danger is that Joshua reverts to type and starts trading bombs in the second half of the fight. Taking that into account, SkyBet's 6/4 on either man winning between Round 7-12 looks good.

If Ruiz finds himself behind on the cards and struggles to drag AJ into a dog fight then he could take more risks late on and get caught. So as well as the points win, I also like the Joshua stoppage between Rounds 9-12 at 6/1 (SkyBet) as a side bet.

Was Ruiz lucky the first time? Is Joshua finished? How has Ruiz handled the instant fame and wealth? How much did that defeat affect AJ psychologically?

There are so many unanswered questions here – enjoy the show!

Best Bets

Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua – Anthony Joshua to win by decision or technical decision (7/2 BetVictor)

Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua – Anthony Joshua to win in Rounds 9-12 (6/1 SkyBet)

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