Andy Ruiz Jr. v Anthony Joshua - A Heavyweight Rematch for the Ages

It is that time of the year - Christmas is upon us. More importantly, December is packed full of World title fights and intriguing rematches in the world of boxing. This month features fights such as Charlo v Hogan at middleweight, Commey v Lopez for the IBF World lightweight title and Terence Crawford is back in action. Jeff Horn, who has a win over Manny Pacquiao, will be looking to avenge a defeat to Michael Zerafa. The highly anticipated rematch between Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo will finally take place and Jean Pascal takes on Badou Jack on the 28th of December for the WBA light heavyweight world title. 

All of the above points to a huge month of boxing. Normally, I would preview a number of fights and predict the outcome but this month my sole focus will be on this weekend's 'Clash of the Dunes' in Saudi Arabia. Anthony Joshua gets his rematch against unified World Champion Andy Ruiz Jr. after his shock defeat in Madison Square Garden on the 1st of June. 

Anyone who has followed my previous boxing articles in October and November will know I have a decent strike rate so far. I've picked four out of the five winners in fights previewed. Although some people will argue picking a winner in boxing isn't always that difficult, we have a 60% or 3/5 on the method of victory. Moving on, let's take a look at one of, if not the biggest fight in Heavyweight Boxing of the last decade. 

**I do not own any of the video material - all credit to the relevant broadcasters and YouTube users**

Andy Ruiz Jr. v Anthony Joshua - Saturday 7th of December
WBO + IBF + WBA World heavyweight titles
TV: Live on DAZN and Sky Sports Box Office

Here we go.

Firstly, I have tried to stay away from the media circus that has inevitably followed the build up to this rematch. There have been rumours of Ruiz slimming down, Joshua slimming down and just about any other eventuality you can muster up. Looking ahead to this fight, I am looking solely at the boxers and there boxing ability regardless of what size they come in. Boxrec has Ruiz number two in the heavyweight rankings and Joshua number three and the winner will no doubt become the number one in the division, ahead of Deontay Wilder. 

Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1) (22KO) had fought for a world title before his triumph in the previous fight. Nearly three years ago to the day he fought Joseph Parker for the WBO version. Parker won a tight majority decision in a fight that if you haven't watched it, scroll down and do so now. It was an excellent fight, Ruiz fought the same way he did against Anthony Joshua displaying his quick hands and power punches. He was forever moving forward and has always done so. His short frame means he will never be one to hold off with a jab but he will come forward and bang. This can be dangerous particularly in the heavyweight division as he is going to get caught. Ruiz has the belief that he will hurt his opponents with a number of hooks dealing more damage than the shot he might get caught with coming in. He took the best Parker had to offer, as Parker hadn't the power to finish Ruiz but used his boxing ability to edge the fight. The Parker fight, among others throughout his career, has shown the Champion is well able to go the distance and stay competitive right until the very end, something that maybe has a question mark hanging over his opponent on Saturday. 

Anthony Joshua (22-1) (21KO) will be encouraged by the fact he had Ruiz on the deck despite a nervous error strewn performance in the last fight. There is no way the former champion will underperform anywhere close to what he did in the previous fight. The pressure is probably cranked up a notch or two higher and it will be fascinating to see how Joshua handles it. There is no doubting his impressive power. He is built like an animal and has a show reel of knockout victories including over the likes of Wladimir Klitschko, Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. The only fight that has gone the distance in his professional career was also against Joseph Parker. This fight showed a different side to Joshua's boxing ability. The champion at the time held Parker off for the majority of the fight and won almost, if not every round, to record a wide unanimous decision win. The problems facing Joshua are the same as the first fight. Parker hadn't the power or the will to attack Joshua the way Ruiz did and will do again. As mentioned above, there is a slight question mark over his conditioning. He has a tendency to look gassed in a number of fights and this is one he cannot take his eye off the ball due to Ruiz's come forward approach. 

For the boxing purists, there is nothing up there that you do not know already. This fight has been scrutinized, I'd say over scrutinized and just about every outcome has some type of reasoning behind it. Most of what I have seen and heard is that Joshua will reclaim his belts, including a Twitter poll albeit with a low turnout. My two pence is that this is a genuine 50/50 fight. Boring I know. It is a tricky one for Joshua because he has been winning a certain way throughout his career and his only fight going the distance will be of little benefit as he cannot fight the same as he did. There are very few heavyweights with the hand speed of Ruiz although I do think with Joshua being less off guard this time around he will not capitulate again. Both fighters will have their moments, more than likely a couple of knockdowns in the first 3-4 rounds again. Ultimately, I think Ruiz' work rate will ware Joshua down again. I cannot see this one going the distance but it will be blow for blow early on. Joshua's best hope is to land that killer knockout punch he has in his locker early on and he could well do with Ruiz not being the hardest to hit. Andy Ruiz Jr. has gone the distance 11 times in his career, Joshua just the once. That is one of the deciding factors for me. 

Prediction: Andy Ruiz Jr. by stoppage

Despite the magnitude of this fight, not one of these fighters will have to call it a day due to defeat. Gone are the days when defeats made you hungrier and more determined, apparently you are 'finished'. Both of these fighters belong at the top level and should be just there for the next four or five years. Defeat however will leave the loser more than likely avoided by the future champions. Who are you backing to win in Saudi Arabia this weekend? Do you agree with my outcome? 

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