It’s time to get rowdy in Saudi with the long-anticipated dust-up in the desert of Joshua v Ruiz 2. So many questions will be answered on Saturday night in what is being described by many in the game as the ‘fight of the century’. It’s certainly the biggest bout involving a British fighter for many a year.
A Joshua victory brings those Heavyweight titles back to the UK and with it a whole host of opportunities for aspiring young boxers. Big money shows with a stacked undercard and plenty of cash to go around, fighters from around the globe coming to the UK to take part, it’s big business people and British boxing needs an AJ victory.
Defeat and Ruiz likely will head back to the States for a unification fight with Deontay Wilder and it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing any big nights at Wembley or the O2 for a long time. With so much at stake and some pretty interesting bouts on the undercard, notably a return for Dillian Whyte and high stakes for some promising young fighters like Hrgovic and Hunter, we caught up with our man in the know, boxing expert David Jarvis, to get the lowdown.
TM: Hi David, so the obvious place to start is the big one, Joshua v Ruiz 2? How do you see this panning out?
David Jarvis: I’m afraid I see a similar outcome. I don’t buy that AJ needs to keep his distance and keep it long and soften Ruiz up. It makes sense and I definitely thought AJ jumped in too early last time. Keeping it long will only work up to a point. I think AJ knows he needs to hurt him to really keep him off after the first time and therein lies the jeopardy because Ruiz took his best last time and came back at him. Ruiz is so fast and adept at getting inside. I think he can do it again.
TM: Joshua’s been pretty quiet the last six months, ominous sign for Ruiz?
DJ: I’m not so sure. When AJ did talk about the fight he wasn’t making much sense which is absolutely fine in my book because fighters need to find the right mentality to go in there again and win – even if it does sound like rubbish to the outside world. Respect to him for that. What we do know is he has been having hard sparring. He has been preparing well – as he always does. He looks leaner so he knows speed was a massive issue in the first fight.
TM: From Ruiz’s perspective, shedding some weight, buying a flash car, wearing more jewellery than Mr T, it must have changed him a bit, as lovely a guy as he seems to be?
DJ: You bet it has changed him. He will be a better fighter. And he was already pretty good. The key point is that he has shed some weight. He knows it was his speed that beat Joshua – and a good chin – let’s not forget that. He did get nailed and not just when he went down. He may be even faster this time – bad news for AJ.
TM: What are your thoughts on Saudi Arabia? Are we going to see more and more fights over there do you think?
DJ: Yes. Money talks and it is all about TV deals and pay per view so I don’t see why they wouldn’t put more big shows on there following Joshua v Ruiz 2.
TM: Anything catching your eye on the undercard and what on earth is going on with the Dillian Whyte situation? He’s never been found guilty of anything right?
DJ: No, he hasn’t and if he gets past Mariusz Wach on the undercard he will be back in business after being in the wilderness after the Rivas fight. Wach is no soft touch so it will be the pick of the undercard. It will also be interesting to see what Povetkin has left against Michael Hunter. That could be a lively one.
TM: On the other side of the division, what did you make of Deontay Wilder? That was about as clean and clinical a knockout as he’s produced?
DJ: Like the man said, ‘they have to be perfect for 12 rounds and he only has to be perfect for two seconds’. He was getting his head boxed off but he showed great composure to take his moment. He was clinical. Impressive.
If Fury can avoid a big shot, he’ll walk that fight, won’t he? No, he won’t. He can do again what he did last time but as Ortiz proved – and Tyson himself – you can’t switch off for a second against Wilder. He can do it, but he won’t walk it.
TM: Do you think Al Haymon & Co have got one eye on Ruiz/Joshua, and a possible unification if Ruiz wins, putting the Fury fight on the back burner?
DJ: Yes, I do. Why wouldn’t he? But I also believe Fury and Wilder like each other as men and want to do it again for the fans. Wilder proved that against Ortiz.
TM: On another note, what did you think about the Smith/Ryder scorecards and result, couldn’t have gone worse for Smith really other than losing of course?
DJ: That was an absolute travesty of the worst kind. I had Ryder a round up. He deserved it. He made the fight, was never in trouble and was bossing the fight. You maybe couldn’t argue with a narrow Smith victory or even a draw but those cards were so off it was untrue. I feel for Ryder because he has done everything right and in my book should now be world champ. He deserves a rematch at the very least.
TM: Will this make Canelo more likely to take the Smith fight (after that performance) or is that just a pipe dream now?
DJ: Possibly. That is what he did when he saw a weakness with Kovalev against Yarde. Let’s hope so. But on that Ryder performance, Canelo wins – possibly by knockout.
TM: If Eubank comes through his fight, then between Smith/Saunders and Eubank, there’s plenty of great domestic fights to be made at least?
DJ: Not so sure. Smith and Saunders are both looking for bigger fish to fry and will only take Eubank if better options are not on the table.
TM: So as the year nears its end, who is top of your pound for pound list?
DJ: It is hard to argue again Josh Taylor isn’t it? What a year he has had. Naoya Inoue has also been impressive.
TM: And given it’s the end of the decade, and assuming your memory matches up, what’s been your favourite fight of the last ten years?
DJ: That’s easy – two actually – Joshua v Klitschko and the second fight between Froch and Groves.
And finally looking ahead to 2020, what fight would you most like to see next year?
DJ: Wilder v Fury. Saunders v Canelo. Crawford v Spence Jr. Lomachenko v Davies.
David has been writing about boxing since 1995 starting for Boxing Monthly as their reporter doing British, European, Commonwealth and World title fights. He says it was a privilege to be their York Hall man covering fights there and others on the domestic scene. After a move to Scotland, David became The Scotsman’s boxing writer (as well as news editor). He now contributes to Boxing Monthly, doing features.
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