Deontay Wilder (41-0-1), Anthony Joshua (22-0), and Tyson Fury (27-0-1) are the heavyweight division’s premier talent.
Wilder and Fury lit up the division late last year, with the former defending his WBC belt against the one-time lineal champ. The fight lived up to the hype, even as it ended in a controversial split draw. As Wilder and Fury staked their claim as the division’s alphas, Joshua quietly prepared for his American debut.
The unified IBO-IBF-WBO title holder was scheduled to take on Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on June 1 at Madison Square Garden here in New York.
The fight had the makings of a must-see showdown, with bad blood simmering between the two. Miller, unfortunately, was pulled out of the fight after successive failed drug tests.
Initially, Miller’s March 20 sample tested positive for GW1516, forcing the New York State Athletic Commission not to grant Miller a license. He later tested positive for a human growth hormone and EPO, prompting the Joshua camp to look for a replacement.
Enter Andy Ruiz Jr. (32-1), who accepted the challenge. The grizzled veteran, who lost his only championship bout to Joseph Parker (25-2) in razor-thin fashion, has since reeled off three consecutive wins. Nonetheless, Ruiz is coming in as a heavy underdog.
But he will be fighting with that proverbial chip on his shoulder, with a bwin Boxing News article predicting how the Mexican-American is using his controversial loss to Parker as fuel. “They took it away,” Ruiz recalls. “So, this time I’m gonna let everything go and get what’s mine.” The challenger has been talking a big game, vowing to “bring pressure” to Joshua. Ruiz can talk the talk. Question is, can he walk the walk?
The answer is no. For all of Ruiz’s big talk, he’ll be overmatched by Joshua’s sheer physical gifts. The champ is bigger (6-6 to Ruiz’s 6-2), and boasts an 8-inch reach advantage. Ruiz says he’ll bring the fight to AJ, but it’s hard to envision the smaller Ruiz getting through Joshua’s pterodactyl-like arms.
Ruiz’s best shot is to get inside, yet that’ll prove to be immensely difficult given the size difference. Not to mention, The Surgeon packs concussive power and uncanny precision. He is also an elite fighter, as shown in his victory against the legendary Wladimir Klitschko in 2017.
There’s always the off chance that Joshua will underestimate Ruiz, and therefore not be at his best come fight night. But as Boxing Scene predicts in their review of the Joshua-Ruiz fight, that is very unlikely. “[Ruiz] can fight and box,” Joshua says of his opponent. “I think Andy is a great challenger and will bring it on June 1.”
The champ knows the importance of this fight, is clearly focused, and is not taking Ruiz lightly. That means the stocky Mexican-American will likely be facing a determined, well prepared, and in-form Joshua.
Now, part of what makes the division captivating is how one punch can change the course of a fight. Ruiz, despite his seemingly soft body, does have some power (21 KOs in 32 wins).
Joshua, meanwhile, was once dropped by Klitschko and badly hurt by Dillian Whyte. In other words, all it’ll take for Ruiz might be one big punch.
That is, if he can get close enough to the champ.