Anthony Joshua ’s Mental State Questioned Ahead Of Rematch With Andy Ruiz
The tale of the tape takes on an extra dimension before the most anticipated boxing match of the year.
Anthony Joshua said he’s been training for six months nonstop, preparing in the longest camp of his life to avenge the most humiliating moment of his career. He wants to regain the four versions of the heavyweight title that he lost to Andy Ruiz in June and prove the catastrophic night was a one off.
Anthony Joshua is again the favorite heading into his rematch with WBO, IBF, and WBA Heavyweight Champion Andy Ruiz, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to the opinions of fellow fighters, boxing trainers and other members of the fight community.
DAZN shared a slew of predictions with Brian Mazique ahead of Saturday’s fight, and while Joshua has his supporters, many believe Ruiz will again reign supreme.
What’s even more interesting than the predictions for Ruiz to repeat his game-breaking performance from June is the number of people pointing to Joshua’s mental state as a potential stumbling block, or at least a factor in their decision.
Take a look at what some had to say about Saturday’s fight in Saudi Arabia. I’ve bolded the sections where individuals show concern for Joshua’s desire or mental stability.
Adam Kownacki, undefeated contender
PREDICTION: Andy Ruiz, KO 9th Round
“I think the Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua fight is close to call. Both fighters are very well prepared, and it’s the heavyweight division where one punch could end everything. I feel that the winner will be who wants it more. Does Andy want to be know as a heavyweight champ and to prove that the first fight was not just won by luck? Or will Anthony do everything to get his title back? I’m not convinced Anthony wants the title back. I have Andy winning again.”
Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr: Mourinho predicts Anthony Joshua winner
Speaking ahead of his side’s Premier League clash against Burnley on Saturday evening, Mourinho, who insisted that he was invited to watch Joshua’s heavyweight rematch with Ruiz Jr by Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was quoted by the Sun UK as saying: “That’s the only bad thing for me in getting the job at Tottenham – that I’m not going to be there.
“I was invited by the Prince to be there, but I prefer to be in the match against Burnley.”
Pushed as to whether he expected a Joshua victory, Mourinho replied: “I’m not an expert. I just love the sport. I like Anthony very much because he’s a great kid and I hope he wins. But in sport you can lose. So let’s see.”
Amanda Serrano, seven-division world champion
PREDICTION: Andy Ruiz, Jr, Mid/Late TKO Victory
I think that Ruiz will win again. I think mentally he has the edge, and Anthony, although a good fighter, doesn’t look really confident. I predict Ruiz stops him in the mid to late rounds.
Roman Gonzalez, four-division world champion
PREDICTION: Andy Ruiz, KO
“I believe that Ruiz has less pressure to win this time. Not much about his mindset has changed since winning the first fight and entering the rematch, I think that Joshua’s mindset is insecure. There are so many people trying to tell him what he should do in order to beat Ruiz.”
Carl Frampton, former two-weight world champion
PREDICTION: Anthony Joshua, Decision Victory
“I go with Joshua, but someone is getting knocked out. Mentally, Joshua needs to be strong to regain the titles.”
Sugar Ray Leonard, Boxing Hall of Famer
“Ruiz gets the mental edge here as he has shocked the boxing world once. Joshua must show the world that it was nothing more than a fluke. This fight, I feel, is based on who controls what happens in this second fight and forgets about the first fight the best. This second fight actually reminds me of my second fight against Roberto Duran. No Mas! It must be outstanding and even possibly, bizarre!”
Rosie Perez, television personality and actress
PREDICTION: Andy Ruiz, Victory
“It’s going to be interesting, for sure! Joshua has revenge on his mind as well as those four knockdowns. Ruiz got a taste of being the champion and is not trying to let it go. Both have trained hard, and both men have mean ass power. It could go all 12, but I don’t know about that. It’ll come down to whose will to win is stronger. Joshua, who was supposed to be the better skilled fighter, needs to use that skill set and go in and just demolish him with a crafty early KO for the win. If he doesn’t, and that first TKO from the first fight messes with his head, Ruiz will capitalize on that, show that he has skills too, and could get another W by putting him down once again.
Sway Calloway, host of SiriusXM’s “Sway in the Morning.”
PREDICTION: Andy Ruiz, Victory
“Can’t go against the Champ! Going for Ruiz now. His experience, boxing intelligence, and the fact that they were hugging like bosom buddies after the weigh-in pushed me that way. I haven’t felt the fire from AJ yet. Para La Gente!”
Charlamagne Tha God, host of Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club.”
Andy Ruiz, Victory
“I hate to say it, but it’s a toss-up. I’ve never been big on Anthony Joshua as a fighter, he’s a really nice guy in person, but in the ring, I’ve always said I don’t think he could beat Wilder, Fury, or Ortiz.
I even predicted in the first fight Ruiz would give Joshua all he could handle. I didn’t think Ruiz would win but he did and now we are here so with that said my feeling is Ruiz is going to win the rematch. I’m not sure if AJ mentally is in the right headspace to take this rematch so soon, I feel like he needs a tune-up fight first, but I am rooting for AJ to win because him as champion makes the heavyweight division that much more interesting, but we will see.”
Bellator Commentator, Jay Glazer
PREDICTION: Anthony Joshua, KO 3rd Round
“Hmm.. this is a hard one because you never know how a guy reacts to getting knocked out for the first time. Sometimes the glass breaks for good, and sometimes they respond in even bigger fashion. With that said, I will go Joshua in the rematch, I think he’s going to learn from the loss, and he’ll know how to deal with in-ring adversity better now. I say Joshua via KO in three.”
Bellator Analyst, “Big” John McCarthy
PREDICTION: Andy Ruiz, Victory
“My prediction is for Andy Ruiz to win again in the rematch. People put way too much value into the way these two fighters look, compared to how they compete. Ruiz has the advantage of knowing he’s knocked out Joshua once, which gives him confidence and Joshua apprehension. It’s a heavyweight match-up, so all it takes is one well-placed shot, but I say Ruiz gets it done again.”
For the record, 22 of the people DAZN asked for predictions picked Joshua, which is the same amount who tabbed Ruiz. Another 7 declined to pick a side. Still, it’s fascinating the number of people who are concerned with Joshua’s headspace.
It’s true, being knocked out in a combat sport can change the course and identity of a fighter’s career. However, I believe this quick shift to concern for Joshua’s mental stability were born from questions about his toughness that were likely in place even before the loss to Ruiz.
Many have seen Joshua as a big, pleasant, marketable and also skilled fighter. However, many have questioned his chin and grit. On Saturday, everything Joshua has worked for from a legacy standpoint is on the line.
Will he quiet the questions about his desire and mental state, or give his doubters more dirt to bury him? We’ll find out soon.
Anthony Joshua: I Don’t Want Decision vs. Ruiz – I Want KO!
The mega match between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua is hours away from unfolding.
The British-born boxer is direly looking to avenge his loss, and he does not plan on letting the fight reach a decision.
Joshua, who will weigh 50 pounds less than Ruiz once they step into the ring, doesn’t have plans of keeping the undersized-in-height heavyweight champion at bay to prevent history from repeating itself with yet another loss.
“No way. I’m here for knockouts,” Joshua told BoxingScene.com. “That’s what we do. I’m going to back him down, make him tired and chop at him like a tree … I just have to what I need to do …. I’ve just been working on myself, really. I can’t rush. It’s a 12-round marathon, not a sprint.”
Joshua said he will throw more punches to fend off the fighter who knocked him down four times in June before the fight was finally called off in the seventh.
“The textbook stuff, you know. Jab, one-two,” said Joshua. “His hand speed did not give me problems … I know I’m better than him, really. I’ve been training in an arena full of greatness in my training camp.”
If the broken Joshua gets into a slugfest with Ruiz, he could get into trouble, much like he did in the first fight.
Ruiz outlanded Joshua 57 to 46 in total punches, with a 39 to 23 edge in power shots, per CompuBox.
But Joshua’s power cannot be underestimated either. After all, he was having a good showing in the first two rounds before dropping Ruiz in the third. Seconds later, Ruiz rose from the canvas and landed the first crippling shot of the night that served to be the beginning of the end toward Joshua’s eventual demise.
A knockout win would give Joshua the definitive, mentally-repairing win that he needs, but the decision just might end up being the safer route to plant himself back into the heavyweight picture.
SECOND CHANCE Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr 2: How heavyweight greats including Mike Tyson have done in first fight since shock defeats
Following his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in June, Anthony Joshua is about to get his long-awaited shot at redemption.
Joshua lost his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts when he was stopped by the Mexican-American in New York, one of the biggest shocks in boxing history.
But on Saturday night, AJ can put things right when he and Ruiz do their rematch in Saudi Arabia.
This fight is an intriguing prospect because it will give fans an idea of what the Brit is truly made of having suffered such a setback last time out.
He still has the opportunity to become one of the greats in the heavyweight division but must win this fight.
There have been some shocks similar to this in the past and shortly after AJ’s defeat to Ruiz, we took a look at some the greatest upsets in heavyweight boxing.
Michael Moorer after George Foreman def. – 1994
Following his shock defeat to a 45-year-old Foreman in Las Vegas, Moorer was back in action a year later.
He faced fellow American Melvin Foster in Sacramento and got the job done, winning by unanimous decision.
Moorer reclaimed his IBF heavyweight crown when he beat Axel Schultz in June 1996 after winning by split decision but lost his belt when in a unification match with WBO champ Evander Holyfield.
Sonny Liston after Cassius Clay def. – 1964
The pair were due to have a rematch in November 1964 but had to be delayed when Clay [who then became Muhammad Ali] needed emergency surgery for a strangulated hernia.
But the rematch was rearranged for May 1965 and much like the first bout, Ali won by knockout, flooring Liston in the first round.
The result was controversial however, with suggestions Ali’s punch that sent Liston to the canvas did not actually connect with him and was since labelled the ‘Phantom Punch’.
Mike Tyson after Evander Holyfield def. – 1996
Iron Mike suffered a surprise defeat to the 25/1 outsider Holyfield in November 1996 but the pair fought a rematch in June the following year.
And this bout gave a real insight into Tyson’s madness as he was disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears in the third round.
He lost his boxing license for the incident and did not fight again until 1999.
Lennox Lewis after Hasim Rahman def. – 2001
Like Joshua, Lewis was guilty of looking ahead to the big fight in the future before suffering a defeat to an opponent they weren’t expected to lose.
But Lewis fought his conqueror in November 2001 and made no mistake second time round, winning via knockout.
The British fighter did then get his big fight with Tyson in June 2002, winning that by knockout too.
Mike Tyson after ‘Buster’ Douglas def. – 1990
He’s viewed by many as the best heavyweight boxer of all time but Tyson actually suffered six defeats in his professional career.
Tyson’s first defeat was the most shocking though and was probably more of an upset than Joshua’s defeat to Ruiz.
There was no rematch though, instead, Tyson fought Henry Tillman next and won that by knockout.
With the exception of Tyson’s rematch against Holyfield, AJ will be looking for a similar response to this in the Middle East.
What is our prediction?
As good as Andy Ruiz was last time out, we can’t see any way Joshua gets beaten here again.