By Charles Brun: The shorter Andy Ruiz Jr. had to crane his neck considerably to look up at the 6’6″ Anthony Joshua during their face to face at their final press conference on Thursday in New York ahead of their fight this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is predicting 8,000 Brits will be showing up for the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. fight this weekend. That’s a huge number of boxing fans that will be making the long trek to see Joshua take on replacement opponent Ruiz Jr.

Massive pressure on Joshua to impress in New York

Joshua failed to get the opponent that he wanted to fight in Luis Ortiz, and now he’s stuck with a chubby looking Ruiz Jr. (32-1, 21 KOs), who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder set the bar high in knocking out Dominic Breazeale in the first round last weekend. Now it’s up to Joshua to defeat Ruiz Jr. in similar fashion, but he’s not that type of a puncher. Joshua is in an impossible situation. Although he punches hard, he’s not a one-punch guy like Wilder.

“I’m a dominant force, I want to go in there and show how good I am,” Joshua said to “Good luck to Deontay but I’m a fan of the sport, I have tried to challenge the best out there, lets not rob the fans of a good fight. He’s more than welcome to come and have a conversation.”

Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) has got other fish to try against Luis Ortiz in September in a rematch, and then likely Adam Kownacki. A rematch against Tyson Fury will likely come after those two fights.

Joshua is a huge favorite to beat Ruiz Jr. on Saturday night. It’s going to take a great performance by the 29-yer-old Ruiz Jr. for him to defeat Joshua. It’s not impossible, but it won’t be easy. The weakness for Joshua is his stamina. He gets tired easy when he throws a lot of shots. He’s blamed his stamina problems in the past at him carrying around too much muscle, but he’s been gassing even earlier in his career when he weighed in the low 240s.

Ruiz Jr. to Joshua: “I’m chubby but fast as lightning!

The hand speed of Ruiz Jr. is exceptional. He’s very fast of hand. His foot speed is slow, and plodding. That’s what makes him unusual. Ruiz Jr. lulls his opponents to sleep with the way he slowly walks towards them, giving the impression that he’s a slow fighter. But when Ruiz Jr. gets in punching range, he suddenly will fire off a two to three punch combination, and surprise his opponents.

In Ruiz’s last fight, he defeated the 6’7″ Alexander Dimitrenko by a fifth round stoppage last month on April 20 in Carson, California. Ruiz Jr. quickly walked the

In looking at Ruiz’s last fight against the 6’7″ Alexander Dimitrenko, he would throw single punches at average speed. But then suddenly, Ruiz Jr. would fire off blazing fast shots with a lot of power that surprised Dimitrenko, and had him on his heels. When the two were in clinches, Ruiz Jr. would suddenly open up with fast punches that were landing a lot of power on them from close range.

AJ, get ready, get prepared. Don’t underestimate or overlook me. I know I’m chubby and short but I’m as fast as lightning,” Ruiz Jr. said. “It’s harder for taller guys against shorter fighters and people don’t understand that, it’ll make it difficult for him. Hand speed will help me win this fight, I’m here to dethrone him.”

Ruiz Jr. is faster than Joshua, but that doesn’t say much, because he’s not a fast heavyweight. Joshua will likely try and keep the action on the outside to prevent Ruiz Jr. from getting close enough to use his speed. If the referee doesn’t keep Ruiz Jr. from getting near enough to Joshua to land his shots, he should be able to make his way to punching range to throw shots.

“Pulev, Usyk, Hunter, Fury and Whyte are the other challenges out there,” Joshua said. “If I said I’m fighting Povetkin again, people wouldn’t be interested.”

The reason why Wilder wants to fight Luis Ortiz again is because a lot of boxing fan have given him grief about how the referee didn’t stop the fight in the seventh round when he’d been hurt by the Cuban fighter. There was that issue, and then there was the delay of the start of the eighth round. The members of the New York State Athletic Commission wanted to checkout Wilder before letting him go out for round eight, because he’d been badly hurt in the seventh. That might have helped Wilder clear his head enough to make it through the eighth round. Had Joshua’s fight with Povetkin resulted in a similar situation, he might feel differently about wanting to fight him again. Joseph Parker deserves a rematch with Joshua, although unlikely ever to get one. The referee that prevented inside fighting seemed to help Joshua beat Parker.

Hearn expects Ruiz Jr. to give Joshua problems for four or five rounds

Early on, Hearn is predicting a lot of intensity from Ruiz Jr. in the first four or five rounds, but after that he sees Joshua taking over.

“Ruiz Jr will be a handful and I expect four or five rounds of action,” Hearn said.

The California native’s defense will need to be on point for him to make it through the first five rounds against Joshua. Ruiz Jr. got hit a lot by Dimtrenko last April, but he was able to walk through those punches to get close enough to land his own shots. Joshua hits too hard for Ruiz Jr. to take a lot of flush right hands like the ones that he was getting nailed with by Dimitrenko.

“AJ is focused on this. Wilder has decided he doesn’t want to fight Joshua,” Hearn said. “This is just the beginning. Tyson Fury, Whyte, the two mandatories, probably Usyk and Pulev, we’re fine for opponents. The one we wanted though was Deontay Wilder,” said Hearn.


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