By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn says he agrees with the fans that believe that Anthony Joshua shouldn’t take the rematch with IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. straightaway. The fans think Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) is making a mistake of facing Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) without one or two fights for him to work on his weak spots that the American took advantage of Hearn says it’s not his call. Hearn says it’s Joshua that is driving the process.
Joshua and his training team are the ones that are pushing for the rematch, and they think they can win. Despite the one-sided nature of Joshua’s seventh round knockout loss last month on June 1, his training team believe he’s the favorite going into the rematch with Ruiz Jr. In other words, they think Joshua’s loss was just a fluke thing. It’s interesting to note that many former fighters believe that Joshua sack his trainer Rob McCracken, and go with a different. As such, Joshua’s training team saying he’s the favorite going into the rematch with the 29-year-old Ruiz Jr. has to be viewed in the same lens as the mistakes they made with AJ in the first fight. If the training for Joshua was flawed from top to bottom, then it’s not surprising that the predictions from the training team would be equally poor.
Cardiff is still front-runner for location of Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch
“A good chance,” said Hearn to Fighthub when asked if there’s a high possibility that the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. rematch will be taking place in Cardiff, Wales. “I think Cardiff is the front runner right now. He [Joshua] doesn’t care where it is, but he’s got to make the decision. I’m not making it for him. Common sense would tell you that here is better than away. There is the opportunity to go to Madison Square Garden. That’s interesting as well. We’ll be alerting Andy Ruiz’s team this week where the fight will be, and right now, Cardiff is certainly the front runner,” said Hearn.
Hearn and Joshua’s team feel they need an extra advantage for AJ to come out victorious over Ruiz. That’s obviously a huge compliment to Ruiz Jr., because it suggests that they don’t see Joshua as being good enough to beat him without help.
It’s unknown why Hearn prefers staging the Joshua-Ruiz rematch in Cardiff? With the huge amount of criticism Joshua has received in his two fights in Cardiff in the past, one would think Hearn would pick a different location in the UK for the rematch. Joshua’s fights in Cardiff against Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker were both tainted by the actions by the referees that had a huge impact on the outcomes.
The referee that worked the Joshua-Takam fight stopped it prematurely in the 10th to give Joshua a TKO win. Takam looked fine, and was fighting back hard at the time. In the Joshua-Parker fight, the referee prevented inside fighting, which allowed the taller fighter Joshua to stand on the outside to control the fight with his jab. Ruiz has already said he wants $50 million if he has to fight Joshua in the UK rather than in the U.S or Mexico. That’s where Ruiz wants the second fight to take place.
Hearn agrees that Joshua shouldn’t take immediate rematch with Ruiz
“They’re probably right, but we have a contractual rematch,” said Hearn when told that many boxing fans think Joshua shouldn’t be taking an immediate rematch with Ruiz. “You don’t really get the opportunities to become a heavyweight world champion too often. Could he, should he or would he have an interim confidence builder? Yeah, maybe; that’s not him. He has no interest in that talk. That hasn’t even been discussed. What has been discussed is, “I should have beat Andy Ruiz that night. I performed poorly, and I lost the fight. I’m going to beat him next time. I want to be a two-time heavyweight world champion. Give me that fight now. That’s the instruction by Anthony Joshua.
The training team believes they’re favorites in that fight. It’s going to be very, very difficult, but if you’re favorite in a fight to win the unified heavyweight championship, you’ve got to be taking it, and that’s where we’re at,” said Hearn.
Joshua shaving a hard time coming to terms with loss to Ruiz
It’s interesting that Joshua still believes that he shouldn’t have lost to Ruiz Jr. last June. With Joshua’s poor punch resistance, and equally dreadful stamina, he rightfully lost the fight. That’s how it is in boxing. When a fighter can’t take a punch, and has horrible stamina, they tend to lose against quality fighters. That’s what happened to Joshua. It’s too bad that he’s not able to accept that he lost, and give credit to Ruiz for being a better fighter than him. It’s always a shame when a fighter can’t admit that they have flaws in their game. In order for fighters to improve, they need to accept that they need to improve. Normally, the fighters dump their trainers, and go in a different direction. Instead of Joshua doing that, he’s sticking with the same team, and apparently looking to fight at home to gain an advantage.
Who is Hearn kidding when he talks about heavyweight world title fights not coming around too often? Joshua wouldn’t have any problems whatsoever getting a title shot if he were to take one or two tune-up fights first. He’s not just a regular no name contender. Joshua is a big money guy, and Ruiz or WBC champion Deontay Wilder would give him a rematch right away, as long as he and Hearn were reasonable in deciding the purse split during negotiations. It’s Joshua and his team that are making the decision to fight Ruiz in an immediate rematch, and it looks like a poorly thought out one. If Joshua loses the fight again, his career will be in bad shape. Does he then dump his training team at that point or does he stick with them, and continue to get the same results?
Adam Smith expects Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch to take place in Cardiff
“Really confident,” said Adam Smith of Sky Sports in telling IFL TV that he’s confident Joshua vs. Ruiz 2 rematch will take place in Cardiff. “I think it makes all the sense in the world to have it in the UK. It gives AJ a better standpoint going into the rematch. To have it in the UK in front of 80, 90,000 is always going to be a bonus to have Andy Ruiz come over to the backyard here. Yeah, I understand the story of going back to New York where it happened to try and exact revenge in that very arena. But for us, we’d prefer it to take place at 10 or 11 o’clock in the UK. For AJ, it’s the most important thing that he fights here. He has to win this fight,” said Smith.
One can argue that too much is being made about Joshua having an advantage if the rematch with Ruiz Jr. is at home in the UK. That might not be the case. Joshua would have lost to Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in 2017. Wladimir could have finished him, but he chose to back off after he hurt him. Joshua can lose anywhere.
With Joshua’s poor stamina and weak chin, the location of his fights really don’t matter. The advantage that Joshua could have in fighting in the UK would arguably revolve around the officiating. If he fights Ruiz with a referee that doesn’t allow inside fighting, then he has good shot at winning. That would be a travesty if the referee that works the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch prevents inside fighting like the one that worked the Joshua-Parker fight.
Joshua should beat Ruiz says Adam Smith
“I don’t agree with my good friend Johnny Nelson that it’s 1000% that Joshua wins that fight,” said Smith. “It’s not even 100%. Yeah, he should still win it if he stays strong to his technical advantages. He got it wrong in the Garden; he got it badly wrong. Andy Ruiz beat him, and he’ll be very, very confident that he can beat him again. That’s a really tough fight. That’s a fight that Joshua has to come through, and he really has to look great. If it happens in the UK, it gives him the edge that maybe he’s needed. There’s a long ways to go, and a lot of training between now and then. But for us, the UK makes sense. Fingers crossed, that’s what will happen. I pushed really hard, but it’s not ultimately my decision,” said Smith.