On June 1st, British boxing star Anthony Joshua will be hopping back into the ring. It has been a bit of a strange trajectory for Joshua since that astounding night at Wembley at the end of April 2017. That was the night that Joshua stunned the world in stopping the legend that is Wladimir Klitschko.
It was a fight where Joshua had looked down and out at one point, but dug in and produced one of the most amazing comebacks recorded in a boxing history to take the win in the 11th. That not only saw Joshua retain his IBF heavyweight title, but it also put the vacant WBA and WBO heavyweight titles into hands.
It was a win that projected Joshua to the stratosphere, putting him to the top of the division. However, the opponents that have come his way since beating Klitschko have been fairly run of the mill. It’s strange. This will be his first fight since a win over Alexander Povetkin in September last year.
The rest of the big guns in the sport’s division all want a shot at Joshua; think Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and a rematch against Dillian Whyte. Anyone of those would be a box-office bout, but all of those opponents seem to have been put on the backburner for Joshua at the moment.
Along with his bout with Povetkin, Joshua has taken on the relative unknown in Carlos Takam and tough New Zealander Joseph Parker in his last three fights. Joshua stopped the other two but needed a unanimous decision to overhaul Parker at the Principality Stadium in Wales just over twelve months ago. It’s not the fights that he wants nor perhaps deserves now at this level.
But it’s not his fault that the big fights have been evading him. The others have been able to come together to do their thing, like the Wider v Fury epic that now needs a rematch after a stunning draw. With contract deals and tv rights complicating things, it has left Joshua with a scrap against Andy Ruiz on June 1st in Madison Square Gardens. He failed three drug tests and missed the fight with Jarrell Miller .
Pressure still there for the Champion
But the pressure for Joshua now is not to slip up in these easier fights. He can’t allow for these types of fights to trip him up. Each one is surely a step closer to a massive showdown against one of the divisional powerhouses. That’s a matter of when, but Joshua is going to struggle to get what he wants if he were to suffer any kind of upset on the ladder to a top bout. Joshua will taken his unbeaten 22-0 pro career record into the fight (21 stoppages) against Ruiz Jr.
It has been deemed that his replacement opponent for this fight, Ruiz Jr, is actually a tougher opponent for Joshua than Miller would have been. He is bigger, heavier, a faster puncher and a lot heavier. So the “Destroyer” is going to bring something difficult to the table, bit still at the end of the day, this is a fight against the quality of which, he has never faced before.
Can Ruiz rally in the biggest fight of his career?
The biggest fight of Ruiz Jr’s career so far was against Joseph Parker in December 2010 for the then-vacant WBO heavyweight title. The majority decision in the fight went to Parker, who, also took Joshua to a distance fight following that. So even though the Mexican American is going into the fight against the reigning world champion as the massive underdog, it will be fascinating to see if Ruiz Jr, who has a 32-1 record from 33 career fights, can take Joshua the distance.
Ruiz Jr will be stepping out against a fighter who is in unfamiliar territory. This is Joshua’s first fight in America and not the highlight reel event that he would have wanted on his quest to break the States. That dream fight down the line against Deontay Wilder is still hanging on the promise of it being for all of the heavyweight titles available. A winner takes all event. Joshua holds three of them. He has to ensure that he can keep that all on the table by winning and the more impressive of a victory this is, it will help in that question for heavyweight unification.