Ruiz Motivated, But Still an Underdog to Joshua in First Heavyweight Title Defense
Posted on: December 5, 2019, 12:14h.
Last updated on: December 5, 2019, 08:28h.
Six months after posting boxing’s most stunning upset in decades, Andy Ruiz Jr. will once again walk into the ring and face Anthony Joshua as an underdog.
However, this time oddsmakers give Ruiz (33-1) a much better chance of retaining the IBF, WBA, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts he took from Joshua (22-1) in June at Madison Square Garden. FanDuel currently lists Ruiz at +192 for Saturday’s bout in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. DraftKings offers Ruiz at +170, and William Hill posts odds of +200 on the champ.
Joshua’s odds are -260, -230, and -240 at FanDuel, DraftKings, and William Hill respectively for the fight being billed as the “Clash on the Dunes.”
On June 1, Joshua was a -3335 favorite at DraftKings over the 6-foot-2 Ruiz (+995), who gave up four inches in height and eight inches in reach despite weighing 20 pounds more. None of that mattered as the Mexican-American knocked out the former Olympic gold medalist in the seventh round.
Ruiz was a last-minute replacement for Jarrel Miller, whose bout with Joshua fell through because of a failed drug test. In signing Ruiz, who was coming off an April 20 win over Alexander Dimitrenko, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn included an automatic rematch clause should Ruiz win, with Joshua’s camp having rights on where the fight would be held.
In August, all parties agreed to hold the rematch in the Middle Eastern country, as the Saudis agreed to build a special arena just for the bout.
Ruiz Motivated to Retain Titles
On Wednesday, both fighters held a press conference in the suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city.
Ruiz knows that he’ll likely see a different Joshua on Saturday, one who has lost some weight – the weigh-in for Saturday’s bout will take place on Friday – and who has had six months instead of six weeks to prepare for him.
However, knowing that Joshua will come in motivated will only make Ruiz more motivated.
I’ve been doing this since I was 6 years old, and it’s finally paying off,” Ruiz said. “There’s no way that I’m going to let these belts go. I’m going to die trying, and I’m going to do anything that’s possible to get that victory.”
Joshua said he has been asked if it would be a special moment for him if he should beat Ruiz and become a two-time champion. He replied that it wouldn’t because he knows he belongs at the top.
“I’m not here to put on a show,” he said. “I’m just here to win.”
Sports streaming service DAZN will broadcast the bout in the US. Coverage will begin at 2:30 pm ET, with the bout expected to start around 4 pm ET.
What’s Up Next?
The winner of Ruiz-Joshua 2 my very well face the winner of another pending heavyweight rematch late in 2020.
Tyson Fury (29-0-1) and Deontay Wilder (42-0-1) are expected to fight on Feb. 22. On Dec. 1, 2018, the two fought to an epic draw as Fury survived a 12th round knockdown. The location for the rematch has yet to be announced.
On. Nov. 23, Wilder knocked out Luis Ortiz in the seventh round. He had been trailing Ortiz for most of the fight, but he needed just one punch to end the bout.
William Hill currently lists Fury as the slight favorite in the rematch, with -138 odds, compared to Wilder’s +110.
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