Briton Anthony Joshua (22-0) is currently a unified world heavyweight champion, holding three of the four major world championships: the IBF title since 2016, the WBA 'Super' title since 2017, and the WBO title since 2018. He has also held the IBO title since 2017, and at regional level he held the British and Commonwealth heavyweight belts from 2014 to 2016. He has won all but one of his fights to date through knockout, which has made his exceptional punching power legendary.
What made Joshua the fighting machine he is today? Well, Joshua was a late comer to the sport, not starting until he was 18 after a few run-ins with the law. This didn’t seem to hold him back though as he won the 2009 and 2010 Haringey Box Cup, and also won the senior ABA Championships in 2010, in only his 18th bout, he also went on to win the same tournament the following year.
In 2010 his success earned him a place on the GB Boxing team and later that year he became British amateur champion at the GB Amateur Boxing Championships after defeating Amin Isa. In October 2011 he was named Amateur Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Club of Great Britain. During the same year Joshua took part in the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan which marked his arrival on the world scene.
In 2013, Joshua officially became professional and took part in several high-profile domestic fights, including those with 'Highlander' Gary Cornish, bitter rival Dillian Whyte, former world champion Charles Martin, Eric Molina, Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko and many more.
Joshua was all set to make his American debut on June 1 against loudmouth New Yorker Jarrell Miller, however with doping charges being made against 'Big Baby' and a six-month ban enforced, AJ was left without an opponent with two months to go. A replacement boxer was needed urgently so the Stateside inauguration could continue, but who could fill the void?
Luis Ortiz’s team were reportedly offered the match two times but rejected them both on financial grounds. With just weeks to go, the position was eventually filled by Andy Ruiz Jr (2-1).
But who is Andy Ruiz? And could he spell trouble for Joshua?
Andy Ruiz Jr
Andy Ruiz (Andrés Ponce Ruiz Jr.) was born on 11th September 1989 and is a Mexican American boxer who has so far only challenged once for the WBO heavyweight title in 2016. During his career he has run up an impression number of achievements. He has trained with Cuban trainer Fernando Ferrer during his amateur career. He went on to win two Mexican National Junior Olympics gold medals and won the World Ringside Heavyweight Championship. He also represented Mexico at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games qualification tournaments but unfortunately lost.
At aged 19, Ruiz made his career professional at the Plaza de Toros in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in a 4-round bout against Miguel Ramirez. Ruiz won the fight with a first found KO! At the same venue, Ruiz also defeated Ross Brantley by knocking him down 3 times in round 1 winning the bout via TKO. He then had several other successes against Luis Lopez Alcaraz, Luke Vaughn, Miles Kelly, Raymond Lopez and Francisco Diaz.
In 2013 Ruiz faced undefeated Joe Hanks in a scheduled 10 round fight. Ruiz dropped Hanks twice in round 3 with fast right hands, forcing the stoppage. Ruiz claimed the vacant WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title with this win. Ruiz then had several fights which led to more titles because of his fast punching style.
What can Joshua expect from Ruiz?
Ruiz weighted in at 262lbs for his win over Alexander Dimitrenko on 20th April 2019. This is 17lbs heavier than Joshua in his last win over Alexander Povetkin on 22nd September 2018.
Ruiz is 6ft 2in which makes him four inches shorter than Joshua which will give him a significant reach disadvantage. However, this doesn’t mean Joshua can take it easy. Ruiz is ranked no. 11 with the WBA and no. 15 with the IBF. Ruiz boats fast hands for someone of his size and he has vowed to take the fight to Joshua.
Many in the boxing community have suggested that Ruiz doesn’t have the physical capabilities to trouble Joshua. Ruiz has a more rotund frame compared to the mighty muscles of Joshua and has recently changed his diet in order to lose nearly a stone and a half to gain praise for his performance.
Will Ruiz reach and frame stop him from being a real threat to Joshua? Or will his fast fists create a fight that is to be remembered? Let’s see in June.
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