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Andre Ward: “Joshua was too worried about looking like a model”

Andre Ward Anthony Joshua

By Allan Fox: Andre Ward says Anthony Joshua’s loss last Saturday night to Andy Ruiz Jr. was a product of him not concentrating enough on his craft in staying in the gym to improve his game. Ward’s theory on why former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) was knocked out in the seventh round by Ruiz Jr. is because he’s been too focused on looking like a “model on Instagram”, and “lifting weights.”

Ward: I knew I could beat Joshua

“I thought about it for a hot second,” said Andre Ward to ESPN’s First Take about wanting to face Joshua after his second win over Sergey Kovalev in June 2017. “I did have Joshua on my radar after Kovalev 2. I had a three-fight plan before I decided to retire, and that was a tune-up fight back home. After a cruiserweight fight in the UK, and then we were going to fight Anthony Joshua, because what you saw Ruiz do, I know I could do that in my own way. It would look different, but I can do that [beat Joshua]. But I don’t want to take anything away from Joshua,” said Ward.

It’s difficult to picture the 6’6″ Joshua losing to the 6’0″ Ward back in 2017. Yeah, Ward did an excellent job of twice defeating light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, but that’s a much thinner, weaker and smaller fighter than Joshua. Back in 2017, Joshua was fighting at a higher level than he is now. Although Joshua looked flawed and beatable in his fights against Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam, he would feast on a bulked up Andre Ward if the two of them were to face each other. You can’t rule out Ward winning though, but it would be unlikely to happen. If Ward were to land repeated low blows like the ones that he felled Kovalev with in the 8th round in their rematch in June 2017, he could beat Joshua like that.

If the referee were to miss making the right call, Ward could beat Joshua with roughhouse tactics, but it would be a real long shot for him to beat Joshua in a fight that didn’t have questionable tactics. Ward would likely do a lot of wrestling to try and keep Joshua from throwing shots. Would Ward have enough strength to wrestle Joshua to tire him out like he did Kovalev in their first fight? It’s doubtful.

Ward: Joshua was too worried about looking like a model

“He’s a gold medalist. He had three out of the four belts,” said Ward about Joshua. “He’s not as bad as everyone is starting to make him out to be. You learn a lot about people when they lose. When you don’t look good, you see all the boo birds come out of the woodwork. It’s the truth. He didn’t get this far by not being the truth. “He’s just built all wrong. He’s got too much muscle mass. He’s too worried about battle roping, and lifting weights, and looking like a model on Instagram instead of being in a boxing gym working on his craft. There’s no substitute for that,” said Ward.

Joshua has received a lot of criticism from boxing fans for the photos of himself that he posts on Instagram. The fans think Joshua is trying to look like either a bodybuilder or a model. The weight lifting that Joshua does is a concern as well, because he’s packed on so much muscle since he turned pro. When Joshua was fighting in the Olympics, he weighed on 220 pounds, and he was able to throw a lot of punches without tiring. But since turning pro, Joshua has bulked up to close to 250 pounds, and he gets tired after throwing a small number of shots. Joshua should have gotten a big hint back in 2015 when he ran out of gas after just two rounds against Dillian Whyte. Since that fight, Joshua has gassed out against Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam and Andy Ruiz Jr.

You hate to say it, but Joshua’s muscles need to be trimmed down considerably. He could do it if he wanted to, but he obviously doesn’t want to lose the beach muscle. Is it vanity on Joshua’s part? Perhaps. He wants to look the part of being a top heavyweight, even though it’s hurting his career. Having all these muscles would make sense if Joshua played tight end for the New England Patriots. He would need that size to block and bowl tacklers over. But as a top heavyweight, Joshua is carrying around too much muscle weight, and it’s causing him to gas out quickly in some of his fights.

“I said he looked like Butterbean. That’s a fact, alright? said Stephen A. Smith to ESPN’s First Take. “I never said a word about his skills. Never. I know the brother can box. I know that he can fight, but he looked like Butterbean. Teddy Atlas said it best; ‘He took physical fitness back a century.’ That’s number one. Number two, I don’t want to see you [Ward] got from 175 to someone [Joshua] is walking in the ring at 247. That’s just me,” said Smith.

Smith has taken heat from boxing fans for saying that Ruiz looks like Butterbean, who weighed between 300 to 400 pounds during his boxing career as a four-round fighter.

“They said the same thing about Kovalev. It’s not about me now. I’m retired,” said Ward.

There’s a big difference between Kovalev’s weight and Joshua’s. Ward was always a big super middleweight. He wasn’t going to be out-sized by Kovalev in moving up to 175, because he was already the same size as him. But if Ward were to skip the cruiserweight division, and go straight to heavyweight to fight Joshua, he would have had problems. It’s a good thing Ward didn’t take that fight, because it likely would have ended badly for him.

Joshua has a “questionable jaw” say Smith

“Joshua can fight. The boy’s got skills. We get all that, but the bottom-line is, I’m comparing you to your counterparts,” said Smith. “He’s got a highly questionable jaw. That is a fact. He’s not thinking about getting inside the ring with me or you. He was supposed to be getting in the ring with [Deontay] Wilder. Lord have mercy,” said Smith.

At this point, you have to admit that Joshua does have a chin problem that isn’t going to get better. When fighters display a problem with their punch resistance early on, it rarely improves. Top fighters can disguise the issue by focusing on their defense, using movement, and clinching to keep from getting hit. Their punch resistance rarely improves. As such, Joshua is stuck with his weak chin, and it could hasten the end of his career. His decision making obviously could hurt him as well. Joshua has decided to fight Ruiz in an immediate rematch.

“If you look like that, and you’re supposed to be the man, you should get criticism,” said Ward about Joshua. “I’m talking about people coming out of the woodwork saying he’s trash.”

Joshua has been getting nonstop criticism from boxing fan and the media since his loss to Ruiz last Saturday. That’s going to continue up until he rematches him later this year.

“It’s not the same now,” said Smith about the Joshua vs. Wilder fight not likely to be as big as it would have been if not for AJ being knocked out by Ruiz.

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