Andy Ruiz will get the chance to make history as the first Mexican heavyweight champion when he challenges unified WBA/WBO/IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
Ruiz is coming off a fifth-round corner retirement of Alexander Dimitrenko on April 20. The Joshua fight will be Ruiz’s second title opportunity since losing a close majority decision to then WBO title-holder Joseph Parker in December 2016. Since that defeat, Ruiz has reeled off three straight victories.
“I think the fight is going toe-to-toe, two guys smashing each other’s faces,” said Ruiz. I’m going in there to throw combinations like I’ve never done before, to improve my speed. A lot of people underestimated me, and I’m used to that. My whole life people underrated me so I’m just going in there to take all. I’m not going in there scared and I’m not going in there nervous, I’m going to go in there mad and to take what’s mine.
“I think being so tall he fights like a big robot. I think with my style, my speed, my movement, I don’t think he’s fought anybody like me. It’s going to be a whole different ball game. All the guys that he’s fought, they usually run around from him. I don’t think he’s good going back. I’m going to bring the pressure, the speed, and the combinations to him.”
Joshua was originally supposed to make his American debut against undefeated New York heavyweight Jarrell Miller. The bout was abruptly canceled several weeks ago due to Miller failing three drug tests for several banned substances.
Although Ruiz and Miller share similar girth, Ruiz’s faster hand speed and world title experience could potentially make him a tougher challenge for Joshua on short notice.
“Ruiz is a different kind of challenge but one I embrace,” said Joshua. “We have worked in the boxing gym week on week and whoever is put in front of me at Madison Square Garden on June 1 will be dispatched in style. The rent will be collected.”
Joshua vs. Ruiz will air exclusively on DAZN.
Not bad for a last minute opponent. For all the talk about Luis Ortiz stepping in, there was too much bluffing going on between his various handlers. They ended up shooting themselves in the foot and missing out a golden opportunity they may never come again for a 40-year-old fighter. Not to mention, it would be a big risk to give Ortiz the call knowing his own drug history of two failed tests.
Also promising is Ruiz being a PBC fighter, meaning we can only hope the rapport between the companies stays good enough that we can finally get the AJ-Wilder showdown sometime in 2020.
As for how this fight goes, I see it similar to the Povetkin fight in some ways — Ruiz does good work when he does get inside but those moments are few due to Joshua’s superior jab, height and reach.
I see a late stoppage for Joshua somewhere between the 10th and 12th rounds.