I flip back and forth, maybe you do too, between Andy Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) and Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), on who will get the W Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia.
Ruiz, the guy had AJ’s number on June 1; and once a guy has your number, he usually tucks it in his pocket, keeps it, knows how to dial up with that same energy. But…Ruiz, you saw those YouTube videos?
Dude has been having fun, and eating like a king. Sure, sure, heavyweights don’t have to make weight, he proved June 1 that flab doesn’t hinder his volume. But has he been mentally on track, is he doing that extra sprint, or finishing that round in the gym extra hard…or less so, because he’s already climbed the tall mountain, planted his flag and stowed away enough dough to retire on (barring mis-investments). So, I tip back. AJ might have the motivation edge, because now HE has more to prove. But wait…he has professed to be an over-thinker at times, has asked for psychological insight into how to perform at his peak. Maybe that motivation might tighten him up, on fight night, make him press to perform..and then that allows Ruiz to take advantage of a lack of mental mobility.
When Andy Ruiz scored his stunning upset of Anthony Joshua back in June, he did so as a massive 30/1 (+3000) underdog. He remains an underdog heading into the rematch, but at 7/4 (+175), he's being given roughly a 36% chance to win according to MyTopSportsbooks. He was given just a 3.2% chance the first time around, meaning his odds are 11-times better in the rematch.
Anyway, soon we satisfy our curiosity regarding this matchup of mentalities. Yeah, this fight is being seen more so through the mindset framework than most all boxing matches we’ve assessed in a long spell.
Do you pick up on any tells in these quotes, uttered by the Mexican American Cali resident and the Brit with the body beautiful who now must roar back and prove that June 1 was an aberration, and not a legacy diminisher of large proportions?
Andy Ruiz sounded jazzed to be in the exotic locale:
On fans loving him in Saudi Arabia: “It’s not going to be first or my last timing fighting here. They will see a lot more of Andy Ruiz here in Saudi Arabia.”
On keeping the same hand speed: “No, I didn’t want show off too much on what we’re working on. I wanted to give a little mix there. We’ve been training really heard, working on different stuff, so the speed, the pressure, the angles, everything we’ve been working on, hopefully Dec. 7 we will get that victory.”
On what he has does differently this time around: “The same thing, training, making some adjustments, but we got all the tools, all the same things, so we’re focused mentally and ready for Dec. 7.”
On having a psychological advantage: “I could but I don’t want to underestimate any fighter because I respect every fighter that comes into the ring. We all risk our lives here to provide for our loved ones, so I’m just excited for Saturday to have a really good fight.”
On confidence getting another KO: “I’ll never predict a KO, but if it comes it comes, I’m just prepared to win and use all the tools I have and take advantage of being here.”
On being proud of bringing the belts to Saudi Arabia: “I’m really proud. I’ve been working really hard my entire life to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world. I came a long way, been through a lot of obstacles in my life. I just thank God, and I’m really excited to be here. Everybody please tune-in Dec. 7 this Saturday in Saudi Arabia. Get your app. Check out the channel on DAZN. Let’s do it baby, we’re going make history again!”
My take: No tells I could discern. Ruiz gives basics, he has the regulation soundbites down pat. So, no, I don’t change my mental fence hip hopping about how this clash could go based on his answers.
Anthony Joshua whetted our appetite a bit more than did Ruiz by that talk of a knockout:
On his preparations: “It’s been about being confident, about knowing my capabilities. I’ve had a great training camp, I am well prepared, and ready to showcase my skills.”
On what change we will see Saturday night: “I’m forever changing, that’s what training camp is about, evolution, like night and day. I shed the skin from last time, re-built myself, and all I’m doing is going to win, that’s what I’m focused on.”
On looking to have more speed in this fight: “I’m quick anyway. I’m not looking for anything except the win, that’s the objective. It’s about speed, it’s not about nothing else, the objective is just to win, win, win.”
On how much Andy Ruiz had been on his mind since the first fight: “He’s been on my mind five weeks prior to June 1 because that’s when he came in as my replacement, and he will be on my mind forever. If Andy Ruiz is dedicated to the game we will see each other a third time down the line as well. This won’t be the last time I see Andy Ruiz in the ring.”
On a third match with Andy Ruiz: “Yes because I think we make for good fights. I think there will definitely be a knockout, and people want to see bloodshed and a knockout. I think we will see each other a third time.”
On getting the victory: “If God calls it that’s what’s going to happen. I feel it in my heart, and believe in myself, so yeah I’ll be victorious. Shout out to all of my sparring partners for preparing me. You are going to see fireworks on Saturday. This is an important fight and like I said, this fight isn’t going 12 rounds.”
My take: Man didn’t definitively say HE would be the one getting the KO, did he? Oh, and he said the “I” word, “if.” If God decrees, he will win. And if not….
Me, I’m of the mind that surely there are grander issues for any God to decide upon and influence, than a prize fight, but that aside. I’m thinking that AJ’s seeming acceptance of the outcome is positive, in that it encourages a serenity which might allow full flow of mind and body in trying to achieve the victory. But if he is having doubts about his participation that he’s not making public, then that “if thinking” might be an indicator of hidden lack of faith in his ability to bounce back from that nasty stoppage loss.