How will the rematch play out?
The first battle between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua was pretty shocking to say the least. Andy Ruiz Jr. came in as the late replacement underdog with odds makers giving him little to no shot at toppling the then WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua.
Too bad for the champion, Andy Ruiz Jr. didn’t receive that message.
Andy Ruiz Jr. was able to come back from an early third round knockdown to unleash a devastating combination that took Anthony Joshua out of the fight. Ruiz would go on to stop Joshua in the seventh round becoming heavyweight champion in the process.
Now both fighters are set to lock horns once again in Abu Dabi, the victor leaving the (mostly) unified heavyweight champion. But how exactly will the fight play out? It’s an impossible question to answer, but analyzing the first bout between these two heavyweight warriors may offer some key clues as to how the second fight will unfold.
What caused the damage?
The interesting thing about the first match was that both fighters were hurt by essentially the same punch in the same kind of situation. Anthony Joshua dropped Andy Ruiz Jr. with a left hook set up by a right uppercut in the pocket at the beginning of round three.
Ruiz would go on to drop Joshua with a left hook in the pocket later in the round.
By the time we got to the seventh round we saw Ruiz gain more success with his counter punching, his speed becoming a problem for Joshua to handle particularly in close quarters.
How should each fighter approach the rematch?
Based on this information we see that both fighters are vulnerable to the left hook. Ruiz has a tendency to lunge a bit leaving the right side of this face exposed. Joshua likes to use a bit of Philly Shell, shoulder roll defense while moving to his left leaving him a bit open to the overhand right that was ultimately his undoing in the seventh round of the first match.
For Andy Ruiz Jr. he’s going to want to make a concerted effort to attack the body early and often. Because of his success in the first fight he began to head hunt a bit, which lead to the KO, but could leave him open to counters in the rematch. We have to imagine that because of his shorter stature, Ruiz will be more successful with a battle in close. That said he’ll have to be wary of uppercuts in the pocket as it was the punch that led to the left hook that rocked him in the first fight.
Jabs to the head then body, followed by the right cross to the midsection as well should serve him well. Mixing things up to head every so often to keep Joshua’s hands at bay will also be prudent. Most of all, feints and fakes are going to win the day for Ruiz as it will make it easier for him to enter the pocket where he can do that damage to the body.
On the other side of the equation, Anthony Joshua is going to have to take more of a conservative approach in this rematch. Where he had success initially against Ruiz by utilizing his longer weapons and even a blistering right uppercut, left hook combo in the pocket in their first fight, he’ll want to maintain the distance even more so this time around.
While fighting at range behind his jab may be a “boring” game plan, the reality is that frustrating Ruiz from the outside will actually afford Joshua greater counter punching opportunity down the stretch. A long jab to cross then pulling out of the pocket with a left hook counter when Ruiz retaliates could be a recipe for success for Joshua in the rematch.
There’s no clue as to how the rematch will play out, but these are some good strategies for viewers to keep in mind while watching. If you’re not tuning into this fight on Saturday afternoon then you’re crazy!
How do you think the rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua will play out?
Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.
Header image courtesy of Instagram