Author: Alex Dudley
The date has finally been set, and on the 7th December. Anthony Joshua will have the chance to avenge the sole defeat on his record and regain his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles.
The fight will come just over six months after the Brit was flawed and embarrassed on his American debut in Madison Square Garden. The seventh-round win for Ruiz threatened to end the legacy that Joshua was building, but the rematch offers a chance of revenge.
The former champion was quiet for much of the time after the first fight, and the rumours that were circulating surrounding concussion and injury were never truly answered. But, on the 7th December, there will be no excuses if there is a repeat result.
For so long, Joshua was heralded as the finest heavyweight on the planet, and among the best British fighters to have ever stepped foot in the ring. However, those sentiments were made to look foolish when AJ was dropped by a fighter that only had six weeks to prepare.
There is no doubting Ruiz’s pedigree at amateur level, but the 30/1 odds set by online sportsbooks on that evening showed the apparent gulf between the two. Still, just like in the Breeders Cup picks, this fight was a horse race and we were delighted to a surprise.
Is Joshua really that good? Or did he just have an off night in the Garden? Only time will tell, but another defeat to Ruiz would certainly mean that he would need to start from the bottom and work his way back up to the top again.
Joshua reflected on the defeat in a recent interview with Sky Sports, and he seemed somewhat more relaxed that the talk in the build-up to Saudi fight was centred around Ruiz. The former heavyweight champion continually was questioned about Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in the build-up to the New York fight, and that could have easily seen him look past Ruiz; something that is incredibly dangerous in heavyweight boxing.
A win against the Mexican in December would certainly see these talks reopen, and a possible unification fight could be on the horizon next year, but the waters are a little cloudier if AJ was to lose.
There were calls for the Brit to retire following his defeat earlier in the year, but those claims were laughed off by the 29-year-old. He addressed these reports in the recent Sky Sports interview, where he fought back against former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis by calling him a ‘clown’. It was good to see a defiant Joshua, as it had been a long time since we have seen him this pumped up to get in the ring.
However, a defeat in Saudi Arabia could mean one of three things. Either he looks to take on an established fighter such as Oleksandr Usyk or Luis Ortiz, or he tries to bait either Wilder or Fury into a fight. The latter of the two options look almost impossible, as the winner of their rematch in 2020 will have to go on and face mandatory challenge Dillian Whyte later on in the year. The route of Usyk could be the most likely, but also one that Joshua may have wanted to avoid.
The Ukrainian is the former pound-for-pound best in the world, and his step up into the heavyweight division could be the beginning of a new era. Usyk conquered the cruiserweight division, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the heavyweight scene in his first bout against Tyrone Spong later this year.
A defeat against Ruiz could see Joshua looking to face Usyk in a potential make or break fight, and on the form that he showed in New York, you wouldn’t bet on the Brit to overcome the Ukrainian.