Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua, WBO WORLD / WBA SUPER WORLD / IBO WORLD / IBF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLES, Sky Sports Box Office – Here we go again. This time bigger. This time in a Saudi Arabia. This time with more at stake, especially for Anthony Joshua (22-1). What was considered an easy defence for his first fight in America, Anthony Joshua, who was 1/33(!) to win, came unstuck, big time, in the biggest heavyweight upset for years, and one of the biggest ever. Andy Ruiz (33-1), who was a 12/1 underdog, shocked the world when he stopped AJ in the 7th round to win all 4 belts. Now he has to do it again to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Joshua was so weird that night it’s hard to understand what went wrong. There has been talk of him being knocked out in sparring and possibly concussed before the fight. But after he had Ruiz down in the 3rd, that all seemed irrelevant as it was only a matter of time before he got another stoppage win. But big Andy Ruiz got up, smiled, composed himself and put Joshua down twice before the 3rd round had even ended. 4 more rounds followed but the 7th saw Joshua down again, and after a second time going down, the ref pulled him out, with AJ looking completely beaten and like he absolutely wanted no more of the little chubby Mexican. Ruiz isn’t so chubby now, he’s slimmed down (Freddie Roach and others have said that’s a bad idea) in order to be quicker, in the hope or catching AJ again. Joshua is also noticeably slimmer than he was back in June, claiming it’s just a matter of working for the full six months for the fight rather than the three he trained for the first one. Where does Joshua go if he loses again? Does he even carry on boxing? Does he retire? The odds are the shortest I can ever remember for Joshua to win. He starts 4/9, with Ruiz 2/1. That’s stark contrast from back in June. If you think Ruiz can stop him again, he’s 11/4 this time. It’s quite laughable now looking back to that first fight when he was 20/1. Joshua was 1/5 back then, now he’s 10/11 for a stoppage win, which are great odds if that first fight was his “Lennox Lewis/Hasim Rahman moment”. I don’t think we will go 12 rounds here. Having said that, if Joshua is at all worried about Ruiz’s power, he could easily jab and hold for 12 rounds to win back his titles. Joshua underestimated Ruiz in that first fight, and no matter what he says, his preparation wouldn’t have been the best regardless if he was chinned in sparring or not. He prepared for Jarrell Miller, then got Ruiz at short notice, then had the whole world telling him now easy he would win. Not this time. This is possibly the most important fight Joshua will ever have for me. He can’t afford to lose, and I don’t think he will. I think this could resemble how the first fight was expected to go. Joshua will be 100% physically and mentally here (if hes not, then he only has himself to blame when Ruiz beats him again). He’s been quiet in the build-up, his mind seemingly only focused on Ruiz. Ruiz, bizarrely, has nothing really to lose here. He wasn’t expected to win in June and if he loses here, he has made millions and millions, will always have that win on his record and will always be able to call himself a world champion. That’s not to say he himself won’t be 100% here, he doesn’t want that win to be spoken about as a fluke if AJ smashes him here. The Destroyer will be raring to go. I envision Joshua being very cautious in the opening rounds, then around rounds 6 or 7 landing a massive shot that puts Ruiz down. This time Ruiz won’t get off, and AJ will stop him. Joshua is usually a great finisher when he gets you hurt, and when he hurts Ruiz, this time he wins back his titles.
BNC Tip – Joshua to win by KO @ 10/11, Under 9 rounds @ 4/6
Other Notable Fights
Dillian Whyte v Maruisz Wach, Sky Sports Box Office – A late addition to the cards see Whyte (26-1) take what should amount to a stay busy fight against Wach (35-5). You can’t really blame Whyte here, with AJ tied up with Ruiz, and Wilder with Fury, he needs to keep himself active until his time comes for another big fight. Wach comes in on the back of 4 defeats in 8, 3 by stoppage to Povetkin, Miller and Bakole. Whyte is better than those 3 (maybe on par with Miller) so I fully expect him to blast Wach out of there in good fashion. Whyte looks canny fat, so his preparation could be non-existent which may play a factor in how early he ends this. The under 6.5 rounds at 11/10 is worth a couple of quid as I can’t imagine Whyte wanting hang around here. Whyte to win by KO @ 3/10, Under 7 rounds @ EVENS
Alexander Povetkin v Michael Hunter, 12 ROUNDS HEAVYWEIGHT, Sky Sports Box Office – This should be Hunter’s (18-1) toughest test at heavyweight since moving to the division. Povetkin (35-2), himself a small(ish) heavyweight, even at 40 years old is no easy fight for Hunter. He bounced back from his defeat to Joshua with a solid win over Hughie Fury and will look to spoil Eddie Hearn’s plans here for Hunter. This bookies have Hunter at 1/2 with Povetkin at 6/4 so they expect a good close fight. Hunter looks ready for a step up in competition, and he should get a good, hard fought win here that shows hes ready to test himself against the top heavyweights. Hunter to win on the cards @ 10/11.
Jermall Charlo v Dennis Hogan, WBC WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE – The unbeatean Charlo (29-0) defends his title against Hogan (28-2-1) in Brooklyn. This would have been seen as a poor title defence this time last year, but Hogan went to Mexico in April and was robbed against Jamie Munguia when challenging for the WBO light-middleweight title. That fight proved he could certainly compete (and win) at world level, and earned him this shot at all albeit a higher weight. Charlo has had a very underwhelming title reign so far, besides maybe Julian Williams, which looks a much better now than it did 3 years ago. Hogan hasn’t been stopped, and even tho Charlo is a big puncher, I don’t expect a stoppage win here, unless Hogan looks no middleweight on fight night. I expect a Charlo win on the cards, in a closer than expected fight where Charlo just does enough and wins a 116-112 type fight. Charlo to win on points @ 5/4
Chris Eubank Jr v Matvey Korobov, INTERIM WBA WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE – After his good win over James Degale back in February, Eubank (28-2) is moving back to middleweight after 8 fights at super middleweight to face off against Korobov (28-2-1) in Brooklyn. It’s a bit strange to see someone move back down a weight, but Eubank was never the biggest. He starts here a surprisingly close 2/5, with Korobov 2/1. Korobov has only lost to Andy Lee (KO) and Jermall Charlo (points), so Eubank will have to perform at, to close to 100% to get the win. He should have little problems here if he’s fully focused and committed as his speed will keep Korobov at bay. He seems to have grown up recently, gone are the stupid comments and not having a coach or trainer, and in is Virgil Hunter and a much more low key training camp. Eubank is no doubt extremely talented, and Hunter can only be good for him. Korobov is a tough man, and won’t go down easily. The winner could face Jermall Charlo next so something at stake for the both of them here. Eubank will win here, he’s much too fast for Korobov, has a good chin, and will win a wide points win for me. Korobov to be knocked down at evens is a good little bet here. Eubank Jr on points @ 7/4, Korobov to be knocked down @ EVENS