This Saturday, at one of sport’s greatest venues, Madison Square Garden, Britain’s Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 knockouts) bids to win the support and engagement of the lucrative American market – and pick up the baton of popularity from Deontay Wilder following the latter’s knockout victory on May 18.
Joshua’s American debut is the latest step in a long-standing business plan compiled by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, accelerated by Joshua capturing the IBF belt in 2016, and has been executed with Hearn’s assured touch. Jarrell Miller withdrew from this fight against Joshua after failing drug tests for three separate banned substances.
But even after a protracted search for a replacement, the Garden is expected to be full by the time Joshua strides to the ring to defend his WBA Super, IBF and WBO championships.
Commercially, it remains to be seen whether a fight with Andy Ruiz Jr. encourages new subscriptions to DAZN in the US, but there are certainly a wide range of UK boxing betting markets available for you to glean a little commercial return of your own.
Joshua-Ruiz Betting Tips
Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) has been a peripheral contender in the heavyweight division for the past five years. His most significant victories were accumulated against fighters whose stars were in decline. That list includes a tired Siarhei Liakhovich in 2014, an aging Ray Austin in 2016 and the fading Russian giant Alexander Dimitrenko this April.
In all, Ruiz demonstrated surprising hand speed for a heavyweight, an aggressive style and an ability to put together punches when in range. Despite these positives, Ruiz’s physique which draws most comment from fans and professional observers.
Considering his 10-year career as a professional, Ruiz doesn’t possess the definition of his statuesque rival on Saturday or any of his fellow heavyweights. Generously, he is fit for purpose, given his relative success. For the benefit of those who’ve yet to see Ruiz stripped to the waist, he is less heavyweight champion, more mall cop.
Fights are rarely won by BMI readings, however. The heavyweight division has hosted capable fighters without the sculpted body of a Norton, Bruno or Joshua before. And in Bruno’s case, as his muscles grew his stamina and the fluidity of his movement shrank.
However, to accomplish the impossible — 888.com rates Ruiz as an 11/1 to win outright — the Californian must outwork, outhustle and out-land the illustrious champion. To do that he will need the substance and stamina to absorb Joshua’s bigger artillery, climb inside the Brit’s heavy jab and be strong enough to engineer space to work once in range.
Those tactics require a high level of technical skill, as well as the type of persistence and energy which belies his physical appearance. It would be foolish to discount any heavyweight who is 6 feet 2 and 260 pounds, that is always the caveat. After all, the names Douglas, Rahman, Brewster and Sanders were never meant to be writ large in the history books.
They all overcame similar or greater odds to the one’s facing Ruiz on Saturday.
As with all boxing matches, alongside the tactical and physical elements, psychological factors must be considered when trying to unravel how the bout will end and by what method. Within his unresolved rivalry with contemporaries Fury and Wilder, Joshua’s primary objective is the preservation of his unbeaten record and his three belts.
But there is now a growing sense that Joshua must usurp the performances of his rivals in appetiser contests like this one.
Does the Wilder performance, and the impetus the viral coverage it received has given his popularity, prompt Joshua to take more risks in search of an eye-catching finish? Similarly, on his American debut, watched by an audience typically more inclined toward an aggressive fighter, MSG played host to Frazier beating Ali and Marciano wrecking Louis, lest we forget.
Will Joshua feel that expectation, that history, and be compelled to try to knock out Ruiz early?
Of late, in tempered performances versus Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin, Joshua showed – particularly in the former bout – the ability to box to orders and make the fight easier for himself. Against Ruiz the preferred tactics also would be to box from the outside, use his natural advantages and slowly discourage and disarm the brave challenger before lowering the boom in the fifth or sixth round.
Best Bets for Joshua-Ruiz
There isn’t enough in Ruiz’s hand speed or his resume to build a case for an upset. Sensible investors will pursue value in a Joshua win, not that 1/20, available with William Hill, quickens the pulse. There may be merit in investing in a marginal return on Joshua by KO, TKO or DSQ at 2/9 with Karamba.
William Hill offers an interesting 3/1 on Joshua to win in Rounds 4-6 with Ruiz to hit the canvas in the first three rounds. They are also offering an Enhanced Odds market on Ruiz to be knocked down in the opening round at 7/1. Combine and back both options. It’s a great way to cheer on a more aggressive Joshua and compound the value available.
Ruiz is game and gutsy and I think he’ll get up, and be given the chance to, if Joshua makes an early breakthrough.