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Adam Smith: “If Joshua loses to Ruiz again, he’ll have to take a long look at his career!’

Image: Adam Smith: "If Joshua loses to Ruiz again, he'll have to take a long look at his career!'

By Charles Brun: Adam Smith of Sky Sports says former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will need to examine his career if he suffers a second loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. later this year in November or December.

Joshua, his trainer Rob McCracken and promoter Eddie Hearn have decided to take the immediate rematch with Ruiz rather than let time go by before taking the fight. They could be sorry later they didn’t wait if Joshua gets knocked out once again by the arguably more talented Ruiz. Joshua having the better physique than Ruiz Jr. last Saturday night didn’t translate to him being the better fighter unfortunately.

Smith thinks that Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) will have to decide what to do with his career if he gets beaten again. The logical thing for Joshua to do after a second loss to Ruiz would be for him to leave the guy alone, which is what two-time former heavyweight George Foreman advised him to do. Joshua ignored that advice, and could be heading into the abyss next November when he faces Ruiz for a second time.

Smith blames the loss for Joshua on complacency. He believes that he took the fight too lightly rather than Ruiz simply being too good for him. Smith might not want to admit it, but sometimes fighters meet their match. It’s not about complacency. It’s about them fighting someone too good for them. There’s nothing wrong with Joshua not being as good at boxing as Ruiz. Joshua being too complacent is a convenient excuse that many of his fans are saying to try and come to terms with why he was beaten by Ruiz.

“The rematch clause was triggered. Eddie Hearn and the team got together, Rob McCracken as well, and they’re going to go straight back into the fight,” said Adam Smith to Sky Sports Boxing. “They want the belts back, and they want to try and tempt Andy Ruiz to Britain. It’ll probably be in November or December. We’ll absolutely like to have it in the UK. I think there’s a lot of money in America to have it there. Anthony Joshua will have a chance to exact revenge on Andy Ruiz, but you don’t know,” said Smith.

If anything, having the second fight in the UK could lead to Joshua getting knocked out even faster than the first fight. As we saw in Joshua’s match against 40-year-old past his prime Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, he can be hurt even when fighting in the UK. Wladimir should have knocked Joshua out no problem if he had the gumption to attack him after he had him hurt and on the canvas in the sixth round. Adam Smith believes the reason why Joshua looked so poorly in rounds four, five, six and seven against Ruiz is because he never recovered from being hurt by a left hook in the third round.

It looked clearly like Joshua was gassed out just like he was in rounds six through ten in his fight against Wladimir. No one made excuses for Joshua disappearing in those rounds by saying he was concussed or still hurt. It looked like Joshua was gassed, and it took him five rounds to finally get his second wind. If Wladimir had attacked Joshua the way Ruiz did in the seventh, he would have finished him off without any problems. Joshua being hurt by Ruiz wasn’t the problem. The problem Joshua had was his stamina was so poor that he never got his second wind. He would have eventually gotten his second wind if Ruiz had left him alone like he did in rounds four, five and six. Joshua was slowly gaining strength when Ruiz shut him down in the seventh.

“Ruiz says he wants to have a look at the contract, and he’s with Al Haymon and PBC,” said Smith. “So they have all the belts now. I haven’t read the contract, but I presume it’s absolutely in stone. I think Anthony Joshua will have a lot of say in where the fight ends up, but obviously it’ll be down to the money. I think AJ would like it to happen in the UK. Andy Ruiz will have to fight AJ in his next fight or he retires.”

Smith: Another loss for Joshua would be bad

“Al Haymon has all the belts now. I’m sure he would prefer Ruiz defend in LA or Mexico, said Smith. “But it looks 100% from what I’m told, if the rematch happens, it happens at the back end of 2019, and it’ll probably be the most eagerly anticipated rematches involving a British heavyweight ever. If he loses to Ruiz again, I think he’ll have a long look at what he does with his boxing career going forward. Two defeats in a row would be very bad. It would be very damaging at the world level if he were to lose to Ruiz again,” said Smith.

If Joshua gets blown out again by Ruiz, it’s going to be almost impossible for him to win another world title. Unless one of the sanctioning bodies wants to have Joshua fight for their obscure trinket titles that aren’t world titles. He might be forced to go to the EBU or domestic route to win titles, and that would be a sad downfall. Joshua’s conditioning is like that of an older fighter, and his weak punch resistance is too poor for him to fight at the elite level in the heavyweight division. On social media, some boxing fans are saying that Joshua is the Amir Khan of the heavyweight division in talking about his inability to take a hard shot.

Joshua seems to be getting hurt more frequently since his fight with Wladimir. AJ was hurt by Alexander Povetkin, Carlos Takam and now Ruiz. Joshua would have likely been hurt by Joseph Parker if the referee that worked that fight not prevented inside fighting. Parker couldn’t get close to Joshua without the referee pulling him off of Joshua. During the few times Parker was able to get in close to Joshua early in the fight, he looked like he had a real chance to win the fight. The referee might have changed the outcome of that fight by keeping Parker off of Joshua with the way he stopped inside fighting. That’s a fight that you can argue should have an asterisk next to the result, because it was a match that was seemingly fought under different rules than a normal boxing match, which allow for inside fighting.

Joshua will try and right the wrong

“I’m sure he’ll try and right the wrong with his team, and try and utilize his physical advantages,” said Smith. “Maybe he was a little bit too complacent going in. Maybe he thought Ruiz would be blown away within a few rounds. He started the fight on his back foot, as if he wanted to test the waters and let Ruiz gain some confidence. In the third round, he could have stopped him. He knocked him down. He hit him with a big right hand after that. It looked like Andy being knocked out in three, but Ruiz took the shots, and came right back at him so quickly. That left hook that disoriented him, I think that was the beginning of the downfall [for Joshua]. I don’t think he ever recovered from that. His legs started to go really quickly,” said Smith.

Maybe it wasn’t a “wrong” that Joshua lost to Ruiz. Maybe it was a right that he was beaten by a better fighter. You can only say it was wrong if Joshua was beaten by someone less talented than him, and that wasn’t the case. But in looking at the fight, Ruiz looked like the more talented fighter of the two, and it was almost embarrassing how much better he was than AJ.

It’s nice that Joshua won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, but a lot of boxing fans that saw the Olympics that year, thought Joshua was gifted the gold medal, because the it was in London. The fans think Joshua deserved to lose three and even all four of his fights in the competition. They were all close enough to go the other way, and yet Joshua won every time.

As a pro, Joshua fought an old Wladimir Klitschko, who would have likely beaten him if he’d even made a token effort at stopping him after he had him down on the canvas in the sixth. Other than Wladimir, the only good fighters Joshua has fought as pro that weren’t old like Alexander Povetkin was Parker and Ruiz. We don’t know if Joshua could have beaten Parker, because the fight took place with a referee that didn’t allow inside fighting. Since that fight is one that you can’t count, then the only good fighter Joshua has fought as a pro is Ruiz, and he was blown out by him. There is no wrong about Joshua losing to Ruiz. It’s more of a case of Joshua being exposed as a limited fighter with poor stamina and a weak chin.

Smith: Joshua lost because of his tactics

“Although he got up four times, there wasn’t anything left of him physically and mentally at the end,” said Smith. “Yes, he had pressure on him, because Deontay Wilder had knocked out Dominic Breazeale so quickly over in Brooklyn. There was pressure on him perform, and make another statement. I think he lost, because tactically he got it all wrong at the beginning, and he was caught, and he never really recovered.”

It looks like Joshua lost because his defense was poor, chin weak, and his stamina not good enough for him to fight hard without gassing quickly. It didn’t matter that Ruiz’s physique was nowhere near as good as Joshua’s. Ruiz’s body is more functional for the sport of boxing than Joshua’s bodybuilder physique. Muscle weighs more than fat, and it’s got to be really hard for Joshua to have to carry all that extra muscle that doesn’t help him in his fights. If Joshua could get back down to 220 pounds, he might discover some speed and stamina that he never knew he had.

“You’ve got to give Andy Ruiz credit for going in there with no pressure on his shoulders,” said Smith. “He had old fashioned fast hands, and he took the fight to him. I think Joshua should have backed him up behind a jab, and used uppercuts and body shots, but he didn’t. It was Ruiz that connected better, and quicker when he worked the body in the sixth round. He fully deserved the win.”

Joshua could have done what Smith says in backing Ruiz up, but he would have got hit with a flurry and he’d been in trouble. At this point in his career, Joshua doesn’t throw jabs. Joshua only loads up on power shots. When he does jab, it’s a pawing jab. Joshua has put on so much muscle that it seems like tires him out to throw jabs or any kind of punch.

“It was AJ on a bad night, and Andy Ruiz in a tremendous one,” said Smith. “It was a huge upset, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. Most of us felt he would lose eventually, and come back. But we felt it wouldn’t happen against Andy Ruiz. Rob McCracken is one of the great trainers in world boxing. They have a tight relationship.”

Joshua fought like he usually does. You can’t call it a bad night when Joshua fought the way he normally does. The difference was, Ruiz was more talented, and he did a number on a limited fighter that arguably should never been a champion to begin with.

“Only AJ and Rob will know what they have to do to get it right,” said Smith. “There are few better than Rob McCracken out there. Sometimes when a loss happens, you look to blame somebody else, and other trainers come in. Obviously, he’s [Joshua] taking the blame on his shoulders. He’s saying, ‘I’m the one who lost. Andy Ruiz won.’ He’ll go back to the gym. He’ll right the wrong as a team. You’ve got to respect him for that,” said Smith of Joshua.

A lot of boxing fans would disagree with what Smith says about there being few coaches better than Rob McCracken. Given the fact Joshua has not improved as a pro, you have to put the blame on someone’s shoulders. Since McCracken has been AJ’s coach from day one, you have to blame him for what happened against Ruiz. If Joshua loses to Ruiz in the rematch, should he stick with McCracken or dump him? Joshua can stay loyal McCracken to the bitter end, but he might be sorry he did so if Ruiz knocks him out again.

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