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Andy Ruiz, Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua II Pick

Andy Ruiz, Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua II Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, December 7. 2019
Where: Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
TV: DAZN
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Titles: WBA, IBF, and WBO Heavyweight Championship
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Andy Ruiz, Jr., 32-1 (22 KOs), Imperial, California
Vs.
Anthony Joshua, 22-1 (21 KOs, Watford, England

Betting Odds: Andy Ruiz, Jr. (+250), Anthony Joshua (-300)

Andy Ruiz, Jr. defends his World Heavyweight Championship in a rematch with former champion Anthony Joshua on December 7 in the faraway locale of Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. In June in Madison Square Garden, Ruiz shocked the world by rising from the canvas and stopping Joshua in the 7th round to make history. It was a strange night, with the late-sub Ruiz, Jr. shoehorned in there for a title shot after original challenger Jarrell Miller popped dirty for PEDs. But how it happened is not important. The fact is we're having a rematch many never thought would need to take place. Can Ruiz, Jr. once again score the upset or will AJ get his vengeance?

In the first fight, we saw a lot of things some of us had suspected could be Joshua's undoing all along. Joshua, for all his offensive ability and overall game and toughness, is awfully available to hit. He's pretty straight-up and represents a big target in the ring. He is not a fighter given to a lot of upper-body mobility. And that's not to suggest he has no defense or that he's some lumbering oaf. But slickness and speed is not his game. He's not what you would call "cute" in the ring. AJ has a lot of body to protect and is a big man who doesn't move around the ring a lot. He's there to be hit. And we had seen him hit and hurt before, though most of his opponents are too leery to really dig in for too long in fear of return fire, which is a legitimate concern.

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It's odd in a sense that it was Joshua hurting Ruiz that actually led to the shocking turn of events. After dumping Ruiz on his backside, Joshua went in for the finish and then his availability to get hit surfaced, with Ruiz putting across big looping shots to completely change the complexion of the fight and modern heavyweight history. So, it's a two-headed coin, one side with which we were already familiar. And that's if Anthony Joshua connects solidly; there is no heavyweight alive who won't be impacted. The part we weren't sure of doesn't paint Joshua prospects as rosy, which is that if a fighter commits himself and lets loose with some serious leather, Joshua can be touched and affected.

Beyond just losing his belt and what goes with that, the night Joshua lost to Ruiz was bad in another way. Opponents from now on, fully-aware that he can be taken out, will be emboldened and Joshua might not be able to bank on the restraint of his opponents from here on out. And that's not even to say Joshua was necessarily exploited. Fighters lose. Today's intolerance of losing is really preposterous, so let's not get carried away. But once a fighter shows he can be beat, opponents are more-chastened to really go for it. And one of those opponents is most certainly Ruiz.

Boldness of opponent aside, this is a must-win spot for Joshua. To go from where he was before the first Ruiz fight to losing two straight would qualify and a disaster of mammoth proportions. We're talking about the cash-cow of UK boxing, a guy who packs soccer stadiums. Losing to Ruiz, Jr. made it so he lost some luster. But if he were to manage to look impressive in exacting revenge in the rematch on December 7, it would help put it in the rearview. Some would perhaps even view the loss as a fluke. But if he loses, all the shine is off and his options aren't that great. Sure, he could rebuild and make another push, but getting back to his former status could be an elusive task.

In a sport where you're depending on one man to win, urgency can take on more importance. When you juxtapose the two mindsets Joshua will have from the first fight to the rematch, it's very stark indeed. The first time, Ruiz was a late-sub and Joshua seemed to be at a reduced state of spirituality, as he perhaps overlooked the challenger. When he dropped Ruiz, Jr., he seemed to forget the other guy can punch back. It was as close to a phone-in as you're going to get in a world title fight effort. But now, he's facing his tormentor, a man who took what he once had. And his career is on the line. If that doesn't make for a massively-heightened frame of mind, nothing will.

I feel both men will be suited for the location of this fight, which bears mentioning. Fighters of international fame are generally not forced to fight in the Mid-East. Talk about a tough road-gameā€”it doesn't get any more "road" than Saudi Arabia. Both men have been given to fighting close to home. Joshua operates in the UK and we saw what happened when he had to cross a pond last time. He has to show he can do better away from home, though there may not be a connection between his defeat and the location of the fight. And Ruiz has fought in New Zealand before and made his bones in New York, though he's a west-coast fighter. I'd say it's a wash, though the card itself is being run by Joshua's people. Boxing is prone to being a crooked sport and how sure can anyone be that monkey-business won't ensue in Saudi Arabia? When people are getting robbed blind in Los Angeles, Vegas, and New York, can you be so sure? Luckily for bettors, however, this fight likely won't go the distance. These two both go forward and heavy early exchanges are inevitable.

I'm not sure this was just a case of Ruiz lashing out when hurt and getting lucky. It's still hard for some to believe that a fat guy can beat a guy with Joshua's physique. It just seems wrong. But the big guy is really a marvel, moving his hands with a quickness few heavyweights possess and stringing together combinations seen in lighter weight classes. And he can put the kind of big shots together that can scramble the brains of heavyweights even of Joshua's caliber.

There were a few things I didn't like from Joshua in that first fight, more from a mental standpoint. No one knows what he was feeling after he got clocked in the third round. Perhaps recovering was just out of the cards. But after being able to turn things around in a defining win against Wladamir Klitschko after being dropped and nearly stopped, it was upsetting how he didn't respond in the first fight with Ruiz. When things starting going bad, they stayed bad. He never got it back on the right track. When the end came, he was standing and fairly alert, but more or less resigned to his fate. It wasn't exactly Rocky Balboa material. Again, maybe him just being able to continue after nearly being stopped was showing heart in this case. It just didn't seem very heroic. Meanwhile, in the other corner is a guy who showed he can steady the ship when things get a little rocky, as his best moment of the fight occurred as it looked like he was about to lose.

Again, opponents, and especially Ruiz, will be emboldened by the events in June when it was shown that brave stands can yield very positive results against Joshua. The "hittee" can become the "hitter" once that is revealed. But that's a double-edged sword. Joshua has shown, particularly against this specific opponent, that he can bring the pain. And against an opponent more-inclined to dig in and remain still, the spectrum of possibilities favor the offense of Joshua. He is not terribly fluid or quick. He is straight up-and-down and easy to touch. But when his shots connect, people go flying. He can change the complexion of a fight with a variety of shots, not just looping wallops.

I think the odds for this fight are troublesome. If you bet on Ruiz to again turn the trick, you're getting him at a fraction of the odds offered in the first fight. If you take Joshua, you get a guy who got his butt kicked last time and you have to lay down three to pick up one. Last time, I took the "under" and it was right, not by much, but it was the right pick. I see this being a potential two-round fight. I don't think Joshua's increased carefulness will mean he takes his time in trying to land something big, while Ruiz probably doesn't want to wait until he's hurt to start getting more-offensive. As the round totals get released closer to fight-night, I'll be looking for a position on the "under."

Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting that the Ruiz-Joshua II fight will go "under." Bet the Ruiz vs. Joshua II fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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