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David Haye: “Joshua took a sustained beating from Ruiz Jr.”

Anthony Joshua David Haye

By Mark Eisner: Former two division world champion David Haye was in disbelief at seeing heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua completely “manhandled” by challenger Andy Ruiz Jr. in taking a “sustained beating” that led to the fight being stopped in he seventh round last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Haye is having a difficult time coming to terms with Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) being taken apart with ease by a fighter with a physique that was nowhere near as good as his.

Joshua came into the fight as the biggest star in the UK bar none. It was thought that Ruiz Jr., a mere substitute opponent, wouldn’t last more than a few rounds with him before he lowered the boom on the quick-handed Mexican American. Ruiz Jr’s physique was that of a fighter who looked like he’d trained on a diet of candy bars during camp.

The loss for Joshua means that the boxing world won’t get a chance to see him and Deontay Wilder face each other in a massive unification fight anytime soon. Joshua lost his three title belts last night to Ruiz, and he’ll need to win them back before he can face the American Wilder in a mega-fight.

Haye expresses shock at seeing Joshua beaten up

“This was probably the biggest upset since Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson,” said Haye to IFL TV in talking about Joshua’s seventh round technical knockout defeat to Ruiz Jr.

“This was a sustained beating. For me it was crazy situation to see Anthony Joshua get manhandled by someone so physically inferior to him. Just to look at him, you wouldn’t give him no chance whatsoever, but he showed that he’s got the heart. He’s got that,” said Haye about the chubby-looking Ruiz Jr.

Joshua looked as good as ever in round one and two. However, things quickly unraveled in the third when Ruiz Jr. knocked him down twice. Two knockdowns later, Joshua waved the white flag of surrender for all intents and purposes in the seventh round. Ruiz Jr. was beating Joshua like a drum in the seventh round, and the British heavyweight decided that he’d had enough.

While Joshua didn’t say he was quitting so much in words, his body language told the whole story. He didn’t want to continue fighting after the second knockdown in the seventh round.

You can hardly blame Joshua. He didn’t have the right game plan to begin with to deal with what Ruiz Jr. was showing him in the fight. The lack of preparation for AJ in this fight rests squarely on the shoulders of Joshua’s long-time trainer Rob McCracken, who should have anticipated the type of pressure Ruiz Jr. would be bringing to the table.

For American fans, it wasn’t the first time they’d seen a British heavyweight come to their shores and fail in a big way. Frank Bruno traveled twice to the United States only to lose in early knockouts at the hands of former heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson.

Could Ruiz Jr. be the next Mexican superstar?

“He’s the next Mexican superstar,” said Haye about Ruiz Jr. “Canelo has some fans. How many people in Mexico can relate to Andy Ruiz Jr? Look at him. You have to respect the heart. This guy didn’t come in shape, and he still did it.”

“You’ve got to give Andy Ruiz Jr. all the credit in the world. Everyone’s talking about how Anthony Joshua lost. Andy Ruiz won, and we should be praising this young man, who showed the world he’s #1. A lot of people believe he beat Joseph Parker when they fought. It was a close fight. It could have gone either way,” said Haye.

It would be a big surprise if the 29-year-old Ruiz Jr. emerges as the next Mexican superstar in the U.S. Saul Canelo Alvarez is alone at the top as the top Mexican star, and he makes massive money for his fights in the U.S. He recently signed a $365 million, five-year deal with DAZN.

For Ruiz Jr. to become a star like Alvarez, he’ll need to prove himself again by beating Joshua in their proposed rematch in October or November in the UK, and then defeat WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder to become the undisputed champ. That won’t be easy for Ruiz to do. Joshua will be better prepared for the rematch, and he’ll be fighting in front of his home fans in the UK the second time around. Wilder possesses one punch power. All he needs is to land a single well-placed right hand to the head of Ruiz Jr., and he could be history. But if Ruiz Jr. can beat those of those fighters, he’ll be massively popular.

Provided that Ruiz Jr. beats Joshua a second time, a unification match with Wilder could take place in mid to late 2020. That’s when Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) said he would be free potentially to face Joshua. Wilder must win his next two fights against Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz in September, and Tyson Fury in early 2020. If Wilder loses to either of those fighters, it’ll throw everything off.

“On six weeks’ notice, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever,” said Haye of Ruiz Jr’s upset win over Joshua. “He did it after getting knocked down heavily in the first round. It was a big shot. Anthony Joshua is used to jumping on people, and them falling over. He was clear,” said Haye about Ruiz Jr. after his third round knockdown.

“I’m a huge fan of Andy Ruiz Jr. now. I’m looking forward to the rematch. If you thought this fight was big, we’ve got to get it back at Wembley. It’s got to be a football stadium. 20,000 isn’t big enough for this type of fight. We need at least 60-70,000 people for that fight, and Anthony Joshua has a point to prove in this fight,” said Haye.

Joshua had gotten accustomed to his opponents folding when they were hurt by him. When Ruiz Jr. got back up from his third round knockdown, and started firing power shots, Joshua wasn’t ready for that type of response. Joshua was unloading shots trying to finish Ruiz Jr., and the last thing he suspected was for him to throw a big counter left hook.

The punch shocked Joshua to his boots, causing both legs to turn to jelly. The way that Joshua was hurt, it made him susceptible to Ruiz Jr’s subsequent shots. Each time Ruiz Jr. would connect, Joshua looked troubled.

It’s easy to second guess Joshua’s performance after the fact, but it’s clear that he would have been better off throwing single shots after he had Ruiz Jr. on the deck in the third. Joshua was doing well in the first two rounds when he was fighting with caution.

Loading up with single shots was working for Joshua. He got a little greedy in the third by attempting to throw combinations, and he paid for it. Ruiz Jr. is an excellent counter puncher, and he’s the wrong kind of fighter to throw combinations against unless you have a good chin.

“I remember seeing him workout at the Top Rank gym, and thinking, ‘this guy is really skillful,'” said Haye about Ruiz Jr. in talking about watching Andy workout in 2014. “You can’t get around the shape of him. This guy can really fight. The counter-punching, and the overhand right in the first round, and the body assault from round three really took it’s toll. Anthony Joshua is going to need to go back to the drawing board and come back, because he can’t expect to do what he did in training for this fight and win the next fight. His air of invincibility is now gone,” said Haye about Joshua.

Not much has been said about the body shots that Ruiz Jr. was hitting Joshua with, but they clearly had an effect on him. Joshua was playing matador with Ruiz Jr. when he was stabbing him with jabs from the outside. Ruiz Jr. was able to get a surprising amount of power behind his jabs to the midsection of Joshua. Ruiz Jr. would lean forward and put his 268 pounds of weight behind his stabbing jabs to the body of Joshua. Those punches had an effect on AJ that was impossible to miss.

Joshua will need to change how he trains to beat Ruiz Jr.

All the power training that Joshua has done in the past with trainer Rob McCracken isn’t going to work for him in the rematch with Ruiz Jr. Joshua needs more speed, and above all, his endurance needs to be improved as well. He can’t expect to beat Ruiz Jr. if he runs out of petrol after three rounds. That’s what we saw last Saturday night. Joshua was a three round fighter last night.

Although Joshua is only 29-years-old, he’s not the fighter that he was when he turned pro in 2013. Joshua’s conditioning was better six years than it is now. He’s packed on a lot of muscle, and perhaps not paid attention to his cardio the way he needed to. As a result, Joshua looks good physically, but he’s not capable of fighting hard for more than a round without gassing.

Obviously, Joshua isn’t going to last too much longer among the elites in the heavyweight division with his stamina being godawful.

“He obviously got knocked down against Wladimir Klitschko, but he got back up and closed the show,” said Haye. “This time, he got beat up. He looked like he didn’t want to fight. He put his hands on the ropes. He didn’t say to the referee, ‘yes, let’s go,’ and walk forward. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but everybody has a bad day at the office. He has a chance to prove it. He has a rematch clause.”

“Anthony Joshua is a great fighter, and he’ll prove to everyone that this was an anomaly. Things happen in sports. This was the worst night in his life. Everyone deserves a bad night from time to time. It’s going to be a long couple of months for him. I believe he’ll be back. He’s made of the right stuff. We’ve seen it in the past,” said Haye.

It’s got to be a bitter pill for heavily muscled Joshua to swallow with him losing a fighter with the physique of couch potato. Ruiz Jr. embarrassed Joshua with not only beating him, but dominating him at the same time. Ruiz Jr. battered Joshua at will when he wanted to last night.

“There’s a reason why he’s an Olympic champion. There’s a reason why he held three top belts,” said Haye. “I hope he just looked at the picture [of Ruiz Jr.], and said, ‘I’ve got this,’ and mentally switched off. He’s got a lot to workout. At no stage was he in full control of that fight. There wasn’t one round where he dominated that round. The first round was kind of close. At best, it was close rounds. It was strange,” said Haye in having a hard time trying make sense of Joshua’s loss.

Haye shouldn’t get too caught up with Joshua’s past accomplishments, as there was controversy along the way with what achieved. Joshua’s gold medal victory in the 2012 Olympics was tainted, as he appeared to lose to Robert Cammarelle and Erislandy Savon. Joshua’s win over Ivan Dychko of Kazakhstan was also questionable. A lot of boxing fans feel that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn effectively bought his IBF title by luring fragile champion Charles Martin to the UK to fight him in 2016.

Joshua could have lost to Wladimir Klitschko in their fight for the WBA title in 2017 if the Ukrainian heavyweight had shown some common sense after having Joshua hurt in the sixth round. Wladimir decided to not finish Joshua after having him on the canvas. Lastly, Joshua’s victory over WBO champion Joseph Parker in 2017 was partially tainted by the referee not allowing any inside fighting, which hurt Parker’s chances of winning. Had that referee worked last night’s fight, Ruiz Jr. likely would have lost, because he wouldn’t have been able to get in close enough to land his shots.

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