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What Major Bookies Make of Joshua v Ruiz

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Anthony Joshua embarks on his US debut this weekend when taking on Californian Andy Ruiz Jr (32-1-0) over 12 rounds.

The Englishman aims for another successful defence of his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO world titles while putting on a show that would usher in a unification bout with Deontay Wilder.

Followers of the heavyweight division would love to see that clash take place later this year.

To have any chance of getting his hands on The Bronze Bomber, Joshua must live up to expectations and make light work of 29-year-old Ruiz who took the place of Jarrell Miller following Big Baby’s failed drugs test and the suspension that followed. Many were put off filling the gap due to the reduced training camp that comes with being a late sub, but Ruiz Jr was seen in action only six weeks ago and that ensures he’ll arrive fighting fit.

Ruiz’s sole defeat to date came at the hands of Joe Parker when dropping a majority decision to the Kiwi fighter in Auckland late December 2016. Majority decision win for Parker was the outcome that night but there was very little in it with one judge scoring the contest a draw, while the other two gave it to Joe by just two rounds. The vacant WBO world title was on the line that night but Parker didn’t hold the prize for long, losing it on points to Joshua in March of last year.

That reads as a very interesting result when previewing Saturday’s bout as Ruiz came within touching distance of becoming world champion and Parker remains the only man to have taken AJ the distance. That tells us this clash should be a little more competitive than the pre-fight betting odds suggest. Major bookmakers are scrambling to keep on the right side of Joshua and backers will be forced to make do with 1/25 when betting with Ladbrokes. That looks terribly tight in a heavyweight clash where the course of the fight can change with one punch, but those doing their bookmaker research using TBS website will know many firms are offering closer to the 1/100 mark.

Play the method of victory market and you’ll get a bit more bang for your buck. Joshua has won all but one of his fights by KO/TKO and another early night for the champion is 1/4 at Ladbrokes, the same betting firm giving a points cheer at 10/3. The 10/1 on Andy Ruiz causing an upset is, of course, a very nice price, but it’s not a bet that should attract too much attention.

The traders have this as a case of how Joshua will win, rather than if, and that leaves value very thin on the ground in the build-up. There are a few special markets available on the scrap and these are designed to ramp up the interest amongst casual backers and give us a prize worth risking our stake money for. AJ is known for finishing opponents early and that makes the 13/8 about Joshua stopping Ruiz in the first four rounds a decent bet.

That would’ve been settled as a winner when Anthony beat Matt Skelton in two rounds, Michael Sprott in one, Kevin Johnson in two, Charles Martin in two and Eric Molina in three. Picking the exact round Joshua will win in is where the big money lies and the champ to finish things in the second round for the ninth time in 23 contests has been chalked up as a 9/1 chance at William Hill.

Other special markets which may catch the attention on fight night are the exact method of victory – 1/2 TKO, 11/4 knockout, 9/2 unanimous decision – and Joshua to be knocked down at any stage of the contest. There’s 7/1 for the favourite to hit the canvas as he did against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley or 14/1 for both men to receive a count. There’s a lot of power on show here, with the champ carrying a fearsome 95% KO average and the challenger no slouch either at 64%, so that may just tempt a few into having an interest play.

It’s also worth remembering Ruiz Jr is a stand-in, which isn’t ideal for either man. It resulted in a reduced training camp for the American and the Brit spent weeks studying the weaknesses of Jarrell Miller before being forced into a rethink following that opponent change. That would’ve hampered his preparations, but AJ is no stranger to facing an opponent swap, so should take it in his stride. He suffered something similar against Carlos Takam in 2017 and got rid of the African in 10 rounds.

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