- Anthony Joshua had problems during his final preparations for the Andy Ruiz Jr. bout, which he lost in June.
- Joshua was seen with a stye in his eye, he overlooked his opponent, and the short walk to the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York meant he was unable to get his head in the game, sources tell Business Insider.
- Saturday’s rematch will be different because he will be sufficiently prepared, knows exactly what Ruiz Jr. is about, and will have a stadium ring-walk like the ones he is used to in England, according to insiders.
- The weekend fight takes place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
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Insiders are confident British heavyweight Anthony Joshua will win against Andy Ruiz Jr. the second time around despite a number of problems ahead of their first fight.
Conspiracy theories ran wild after Ruiz Jr. shook up the world with his “Rocky Mehicano” moment in June, overcoming an early knockdown to floor Joshua four times en route to a shocking seventh round upset at Madison Square Garden (MSG) in New York City.
Here are the three theories conspiracists said explained the defeat:
- Joshua was knocked out in a sparring session in the week leading up to the Ruiz Jr. fight
- He had a backstage panic attack on the night at MSG
- He took a pre-fight concussion into the ring with him
All of these rumors were dismissed by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, the group managing director of Matchroom Sport, as the British dealmaker insisted that there were “no health concerns” at the time.
But ahead of his 10-round decision win over the American featherweight Tyler McCreary in Las Vegas on Saturday, the former two-weight world boxing champion Carl Frampton told Business Insider that he did notice one issue before Joshua battled Ruiz Jr. earlier this year.
Between Frampton’s comments and sources close to Joshua, it is clear there were three other problems heading into the June fight.
- Joshua may have been a “bit run down” as he had a stye on his eye
- He underestimated Ruiz Jr.
- His ring-walk was wrong and it threw him off his game
“I spoke to Joshua during the week in the build-up to the [first Ruiz Jr.] fight, where I did notice … and I know he hasn’t made too many excuses, credit to him, but I did notice a stye in his eye,” Frampton said recently.
In the fight itself, Joshua was rarely competive and looked out of his depth for many rounds, eventually capitulating to Ruiz Jr.’s well-placed punches which he threw in bunches, accurately landing on the Briton at will.
“He shocked a lot of people, including myself, that he actually won the fight,” Frampton said. “Looks can be deceiving. He’s actually a very good fighter with fast hands and a decent style.”
He added: “The stye didn’t worry me at the time because I thought he was going to run through Ruiz Jr., but when you think back, something just clicked, he wasn’t at the races.
“A stye normally indicates that you’re a bit run down. It just didn’t look right. There was definitely something up with him on the night. It’ll need to be a better performance [in the rematch].”
Insiders are confident Joshua will score a vengeful victory
Sources close to Joshua told Business Insider in November that, while the conspiracy theories were overstated, there were certainly issues that played a part in the heavyweight’s downfall.
Joshua overlooked Ruiz Jr., according to one source. The British fighter was originally scheduled to defend his world titles against Jarrell Miller, but the Brooklyn bruiser failed multiple drug tests, was pulled from the bout in April, and was replaced by Ruiz Jr in May.
The Mexican, 30, was deemed to have an underwhelming record of opponents, and together with the perception he was an overweight athlete, was not seen as a fighter to legitimately trouble Joshua, the source told Business Insider.
Another source said the different arena and the walk to the ring also played a factor.
When Joshua defends his titles in England, he does so as the champion at London’s Wembley Stadium or the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. On his way to the ring in stadium fights he has been hoisted on a platform, surrounded by pyrotechnics, and has shadow-boxed on a big screen before even making his long and elaborate walk to the ring.
At Madison Square Garden, though, his ring walk was over not long after it had begun, and it affected his mentality, the source said. He got into the ring and hovered around his corner without the time necessary to get his head in the game, and it affected his performance and the result.
Saturday’s rematch will be different, sources say
With sufficient rest, ring knowledge that he cannot underestimate Ruiz Jr. a second time, and a purpose-built outdoor arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, sources tell Business Insider that they expect a different result on Saturday, December 7.
Those close to Joshua are confident their man will not only win, but will win in style, bringing the scoreline in this rivalry to one win apiece.
Frampton also told Business Insider it will be a victory which requires great mental strength.
“What I would have done if I were Joshua is have a tune-up. But he’s jumping straight back in there,” the Irishman said.
“I don’t think he should have taken an instant rematch, there’s got to be demons there as he was taken out easily by Ruiz.
“We’ll see how mentally strong Joshua is [but] I think he can [win].”