By Jeff Aronow: Andre Ward thinks Anthony Joshua knows what he’s doing in taking the immediate rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7. He expects Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) to come into the fight having improved. Former two division world champion Ward isn’t sure if the improvements that Joshua, 29, has made in his game will be enough for him to beat a talented fighter like Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) though.
Joshua has been knocked off his high horse
Just two months ago, Ruiz Jr. knocked Joshua out in the 7th round on June 1, and changed the way fans perceive the British heavyweight. Joshua wants to get back to where he was before in the eyes of the Boxing public, but that’s not going to be easy to do. Ruiz already exposed Joshua, and whatever happens now won’t change that. A blueprint has been created in how to beat Joshua, and you can bet that the entire division will be following what Ruiz did when/if they face AJ.
Ward says Joshua is ready for rematch
“It effected him definitely,” said Ward to Fighthype about Joshua. “I can’t say taking an immediate rematch is wrong or right. He knows where he’s at. Sometimes getting right back on the horse is the right thing to do. Sometimes taking a break is the right thing to do. He knows where he’s at, and he seems like a smart individual. I think if he wasn’t ready, he would take a fight in between. I’m not sure what the contract reads if it’s immediate or not. I’m assuming it is. To Joshua’s credit, he hasn’t been in Boxing that long. His total career is a little over 10 years.
I had 10 years of experience before my first pro fight. So he’s really an overachiever. Deontay Wilder is really an overachiever. I have a lot of respect for Joshua. don’t like what he said about Lennox [LeWIS] though. I can’t get on board with that. What I said is put the weight down. You are strong. You got enough physical strength. Lean out a little bit. Don’t do any resistance work. Do you’re conditioning, and get in the gym with Rob McCracken, and just work your skill. Just be honest where you’re deficient. Sure up those areas. Get those areas better, and then go out there with the right mindset, ‘I’m going to get my title back.’ That’s going to put him in the best position to win. That’s what I meant to say. But he has a shot,” said Ward.
Joshua might not be ready for the rematch, but he’s already made his choice that he wants to fight Ruiz again. Some Boxing fans believe the main reason Joshua is fighting Ruiz right away is because of the slanted purse split in his favor. Joshua is getting the lion’s share.
Ward not sure if Joshua can come back from loss
It depends on how he comes back. Lennox did it,” said Ward. Sometimes getting knocked off your perch can create a monster. And sometimes it can knock you down and you never recover. That’s the beauty of Boxing, and that’s why people are going to tune in, and they’re going to make the money they’re going to make. That’s why we’re going to see how really good Anthony Joshua really is, because he’s been knocked off his perch.
We can all ride high when we’re standing tall. What can you do when things don’t go your way. What can you do when you have some real adversity. Now, ‘I got buzzed in the fight, but I recovered’ or ‘I got knocked down, but I got back up.’ You’ve been knocked off your perch. The whole world turned on you. Now what are you made of. You’ve got to respect your elders,” said Ward.
Joshua is going to show whether he can rebound from this loss, and come back better in the rematch. There’s a lot of different things Joshua can try to do in the second fight to beat Ruiz. Joshua will likely use his jab more, and move around the ring to keep from getting hit. But those things will only carry Joshua so far, because Ruiz is going to be cutting off the ring all night long. Joshua isn’t going to out-run Ruiz, and he’s not going to hold him off with a jab.
Joshua should accept LeWIS’ criticism
“I don’t care if Lennox said something reckless,” said Ward. “It’s better not to say anything than to call another man that could be your father a “clown.” That’s my opinion. I think it’s highly disrespectful. Lennox LeWIS is the reason why I knew about Boxing in the UK. Lennox LeWIS. Not Joe Calzaghe, not Carl Froch, and not Nigel Benn. Respect to those guys. But Lennox LeWIS was the reason I tuned in. I thought, ‘British Boxing is a hotbed out there.’ Whether Joshua admits it or not, he grew up watching Lennox. He gained a lot from watching Lennox. He probably heard about some comments Lennox made. But Lennox LeWIS is not malicious. But the younger generation sometimes, they take critique like it’s an attack,” said Ward.
Joshua is one of those types of fighters that wants to hear positive things about him, and LeWIS wasn’t smothering him with compliments like the others. The reason for that is LeWIS saw flaws in Joshua’s game that he felt he needed to fix, and he spoke up. Joshua didn’t like hearing the criticism, and reacted by calling LeWIS a “clown”, and saying he’s not “cut from the the same cloth.”
Ward defends LeWIS after being criticized by Joshua
“You’ve got to be able to shoulder that if you’re going to be the heavyweight champion of the world,” said Ward. “If you’re going to be a champion period. You’ve got to be able to shoulder people close to you coming out and saying stuff. People say, ‘I thought he lost,’ and ‘you’ve got to do this. If you don’t stop doing this, it’s going to happen again.’ You’ve got to look that in the face and say, ‘I take that. I own that.’ And the way that makes you feel, that drives you. That’s what forces you to get up early. That’s what forces you to stay late. But what happens with the younger generation is, they push it away. ‘Oh, you hater.’
They don’t receive the criticism a lot of time. Not everybody, but a lot of them. We’re in this, ‘tell me what I want to hear era.’ In social media, it’s so bad sometimes, because you can go in there and get all the flattery you want. ‘Man, they hating on you. And, Man, you the best. Man, Lennox LeWIS is tripping, man.’ ‘Nah, nah, nah. Lennox told me right. I got to do better.’ That’s how you regain your title. That’s how you one day walk away as a legend. That man is a bonafide legend, bro. Not just in the UK, but world wide. You’ve got to respect,” said Ward.
Joshua is part of the younger generation of fighters that only wants to hear good things about himself. The problem with Joshua’s attitude is he’s not going to be forced to confront the flaws in his game, and he won’t improve.