(by Kevin Howard) This Saturday night, undefeated IBO, WBO, WBA Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-0 21 KOs) defends his world titles against contender Andy Ruiz (32-1 21 KOs) at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York. Taking the fight on short notice, the pugnacious Andy Ruiz is a +1100 underdog against Anthony Joshua according to My Top Sportsbooks. The WBA, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champ, who stands 6’6 with an 82-inch reach, will be able to keep the 6’2 frame and 74-inch reach of Ruiz to the outside, making it difficult for the challenger to score points.
While Ruiz lasted 12 rounds with Joseph Parker, one of their three mutual opponents, he was able to use his jab effectively to stay competitive in that majority-decision loss. He will have a hard time reaching Joshua and doesn’t have supreme one-punch KO power to end this fight suddenly. While Ruiz lacks the power needed to shock Joshua, he does have quick hands and moves surprisingly well for a fighter whose body would suggest him to be slow.
With the physical advantages all in Joshua’s favor, Ruiz will need to use his speed and illusiveness to try and duck under the jab of Joshua to score with his punches and hope to Outland the young champion. Ruiz will also need to land his combination punching and use angles to try and keep Joshua at bay.
Ultimately, the odds of the fight speak to the reality of the disadvantages that Ruiz faces. While Ruiz is a solid contender, he is a small heavyweight in a division dominated by the tall heavy hitting punchers. If Ruiz plays to his strengths, he may be able to upset the odds without even winning, as most see the fight ending inside the distance, but with Ruiz not being your typical heavyweight he stands a chance of going the distance with Joshua, but even with that a win is highly unlikely.
If Joshua wins the fight as he is expected to do, then the fight most boxing fans and media alike want to see if a unification fight between Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Wilder made a statement this past weekend with a highlight reel knockout over Dominic Breazeale in the very first round and many want to see how Joshua responds against Ruiz. The buzz for that fight is starting to reach a fever pitch and all that stands in the way of that mega fight is Andy Ruiz Jr. We will see how it all plays out this weekend, but one thing is for certain, the heavyweight division is one of the hottest weight classes in the sport.