As a boxing fan, it is easy to lose faith in the sport during times like this. In Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury & Deontay Wilder we are in an era of well-matched, talented and exciting fighters; despite this, the fights that fans are craving seem to be allusive. Wilder has just fought Dominic Breazeale, Anthony Joshua this weekend fights Andy Ruiz Jr and Tyson Fury is fighting Tom Schwarz in the biggest turkey of the three.
However, this tipster is always one to look on the bright side, and Joshua’s opponent this weekend should at least make for a fun fight while it lasts. It is easy to view Andy Ruiz Jr as a nobody, installed in this fight to make Joshua look good on his US debut. There is a grain of truth in that of course, but Andy Ruiz Jr is far from a nobody. He is a body… a big, round body, that can actually fight.
Jarrell Miller was original opponent for Joshua on this date, but when it transpired he was popping PEDs like Skittles, he lost his career payday and the more jovial, rotund Ruiz was given the green light. Ruiz is a more talented fighter than Miller, he has a sharp jab, quick hands and a smart boxing brain, and the fight should be as mildly competitive as Miller was expected to be.
However, AJ enters this fight as a huge favorite and Ruiz (best price is +1200) does not look like a fighter who is worth a punt on to upset the odds. Despite his boxing ability, this is a huge physical mismatch. Ruiz is a small heavyweight and only fights in this weight class due to the extra weight he carries on his midriff in, respectfully speaking, unconditioned bulk. Ruiz is either unable or uninclined to shift his extra timber; if he did so, he would probably be campaigning at cruiserweight. However, Ruiz is game and expect to see him come out and start fast, as he did against Joseph Parker, when he challenged him for the WBO title back in 2016. His tactics in that fight were to use his jab at range and set up opportunities to come inside to throw quick combinations – his tactics against AJ are likely to be similar.
However, closing the distance against an opponent like Joshua is easier said than done: AJ can utilise his massive physical advantages, throwing straight shots at range with his longer reach and bullying Ruiz on the inside with his strength. Joshua’s size and power will be too much for Ruiz. Whether Joshua chooses to tie up Ruiz and bully him, or cover up and trade on the inside, it is hard to see Ruiz having the physical attributes to worry the big world champion. When Ruiz went the distance with Parker it was because Parker was lazy with his jab and straight shots – expect Joshua to be the opposite on Saturday night, getting his shots off first in order to put Ruiz on the back foot. If he does that, the fight will not last long.
In terms of betting, the context of this fight is worth consideration. AJ has not boxed for a while and he has lost a bit of ground to Fury and Wilder in recent performances. That coupled with this being his first fight in the US, it is reasonable to expect Joshua to go looking for a stoppage as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Backing Joshua to win inside the distance does not offer much value (-500).
The length of the fight is also worth some speculation, with Ruiz’s hand speed likely to give Joshua something to think about in the early rounds. However, once Joshua lands a few straight shots clean and puts Ruiz back on his heels, it should not go on too long. Back a stoppage in the early to middle rounds: 4-6 at +225 with Sky Bet.