It can at times be an overused expression, but Boxing is truly a sport of opportunity. Opportunities in the sport can come in several forms. One of the most familiar stories that most people are familiar with whether they are fans on any level or someone with little interest in the sport is one of a young fighter working his/her way through the ranks to earn an opportunity to fight for a world championship. A way that opportunity can come knocking on someone’s door that does not always get talked about is when a fighter steps into a fight on short notice.
Although such a scenario can vary with regard to opportunity, it is one that happens regularly in the sport. When the opportunity comes in the form of stepping into a world championship fight, it can indeed be viewed as the Boxing equivalent of one stumbling upon a winning lottery ticket. Some fighters have been able to take advantage of such scenarios, while others have not. The latest fighter to be placed in such a scenario is Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz.
Ruiz, took an unbeaten record into the ring to challenge for the vacant WBO Heavyweight world championship in December 2016 when he battled fellow undefeated contender Joseph Parker. In what was a close and competitive fight, Ruiz came out on the losing end of a twelve round majority decision. Despite that setback, Ruiz made a solid account for himself in defeat. Since that fight against Parker, Ruiz has gone unbeaten in three bouts scoring knockouts in two of those bouts.
Despite being ranked in the top five in the World Boxing Association (WBA) Heavyweight ratings, Ruiz was positioned on the outside looking in along with several other too contenders as the main storyline of the division has continued to be the two world champions of the division Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder heading towards what appears to be an eventual showdown to fully unify the World Heavyweight championship. As each fight in the careers of each champion has continued and subsequent coverage of each bout has been provided to the readers of The Boxing Truth®️ by this observer, the consistent question has been is the eventual showdown between the two any closer to becoming a reality.
As most know, Wilder recently scored a first round knockout over Dominic Breazeale earlier this month in his ninth defense of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Heavyweight world championship. For unified IBF/WBA/IBO/WBO world champion Anthony Joshua however, his scheduled title defense for this Saturday was nearly derailed by circumstances beyond his control. Undefeated top contender Jarrell Miller, Joshua’s scheduled opponent for the unbeaten champion’s United States debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden, was removed from the fight due to testing positive for several banned substances during randomized testing under the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency’s (VADA) testing protocols.
While the situation involving Miller is a subject to be discussed at another time, Miller’s circumstances opened the door of opportunity for Ruiz, who stepped into the fight on limited notice to face the champion. The circumstances that led to this bout, which will take place on the scheduled date of what would have been Joshua’s title defense against Miller now presents a scenario that is reminiscent of a good movie script. A familiar story of an underdog that takes a fight against a world champion on short notice, who is given little chance to pull off what would be considered an upset.
An aspect that could work to Ruiz’ advantage is he has good hand speed for a Heavyweight. Despite his having a physique is misleading, Ruiz is the type of fighter who can throw punches in several variations of combination. The primary obstacle in my mind for the challenger as this fight approaches has to do with physics.
Joshua will have a four-inch height advantage and an eight-inch reach advantage over Ruiz. At 6’6, the champion will likely look to keep the challenger at distance with his 82” reach. The 6’2 Ruiz must find a way to get on the inside of Joshua’s reach where his 74” reach will not be a disadvantage.
Of course, this is a task that can at times be easier said than done. For Ruiz to be successful in this fight. however getting on the inside and turning the combat into an inside fight is crucial. The primary question that faces Anthony Joshua as this fight approaches is what effect, if any did the situation regarding Jarrell Miller have on his preparation for Ruiz? In addition to answering that question looms the possibility of Joshua potentially looking ahead to a potential unification bout with Deontay Wilder down the line is something to also keep in mind.
As most Boxing fans likely know, Deontay Wilder announced via social media earlier this week that he will face top contender Luis Ortiz in a rematch of their 2018 encounter later this year. Given that announcement, the odds of an undisputed Heavyweight championship fight happening by the end of this year appear slim. The possibility of potential distractions having an effect on Joshua however, is a real one under the circumstances.
While most fans and experts alike will continue to anticipate the full unification of the Heavyweight division, the best thing for Anthony Joshua for the immediate future will be to focus on the opponent that will be standing across the ring from him in a historic venue known as “The World’s Most Famous Arena” and “The Mecca of Boxing” in his U.S. debut. If for whatever reason the champion is not focused on the task at hand, an unlikely and perhaps underestimated challenger just might seize the opportunity that has presented itself.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Joshua vs. Ruiz takes place tomorrow night (Saturday, June 1st) at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. The fight can be seen in the United States and several international countries on digital sports streaming network DAZN. The undercard will begin at 5:30 PM ET/2:30PM PT (U.S. Time). The main portion of the card is scheduled to begin at 9PM ET/6PM PT. (U.S. Time.) For more information about DAZN, schedules, list of available streaming devices, availability around the world, and to subscribe, please visit: www.DAZN.com.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on Sky Sports Box Office Pay-Per-View for £19.95 beginning at 10PM Saturday, June 1st (Local UK Time.) For ordering information and availability in your area please visit: https://www.sky.com/boxoffice/joshua-ruizjr. Check your local listings internationally.
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