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George Foreman advises Joshua to avoid Ruiz Jr. rematch for now

Image: George Foreman advises Joshua to avoid Ruiz Jr. rematch for now

By Tim Royner: Former heavyweight champion George Foreman is cautioning Anthony Joshua about jumping back into the ring to face Andy Ruiz Jr. in an immediate rematch this year. Foreman thinks that’s a bad idea, as Joshua could make the same mistakes he made last Saturday in his seventh round knockout loss to Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Foreman says it takes as long as a year to come back from a knockout, and he compares it to having a broken leg.

“They’re gonna have to go back to the gym. I think he’ll be a greater fighter, Joshua now,” said Foreman to TMZ Sports. “If he goes back and gets his mind together. He’s gonna even be better, but right now he better learn to box and he better get a good manager. I’ll do it.”

Joshua showed a Klitschko-esque fighting style in his unification fight against former WBO champion Joseph Parker in March of 2018. Joshua looked great fighting with that style, keeping the action on the outside, and using his jab frequently. It was like watching a clone of Wladimir Klitschko. Despite Joshua’s success fighting in that style, he went away from it in his last two fights against Alexander Povetkin and Ruiz. Not surprisingly, Joshua was hurt by both of those fighters. He needs to go back to the boxing style that he showed against Parker if he wants to be successful in the future, because he doesn’t possess the chin or the conditioning needed for him to slug with his opponents.

Foreman says Joshua should steer clear of Ruiz

“If I’m Anthony Joshua’s manager, I say, ‘let sleeping dogs lie.’ I don’t want to fight that guy anymore, because you don’t know what you did wrong. You go back and you’re gonna do the same thing. Let it slide. Leave Ruiz alone. Let him alone.”

Foreman sees Joshua’s situation in a logical manner, as fighters in the past often would steer clear of facing guys in immediate rematches after they were soundly beaten. Joshua is a proud individual with a big ego. Those two things could be his downfall. Too much pride could ruin Joshua’s career, as he’s likely going to insist on facing Ruiz later this year in a rematch in the UK.

Joshua might be making the mistake of comparing himself to Lennox Lewis, who was knocked out in the fifth round by Hasim Rahman in April 2001. Seven months later, Lewis avenged his defeat by stopping Rahman in the fourth round in their rematch in November 2001. Lewis gambled, and it paid off for him with him knocking out Rahman in their second fight. However, there’s a considerable difference between Lewis’ situation and Joshua’s. Lewis wasn’t dealing with a weak chin and a major stamina problem that Joshua has.

Although Lewis’ punch resistance wasn’t the greatest, he was able to stand in the pocket and take heavy shots from big punchers during his career without getting knocked out. Joshua is getting hurt too often now since his fight with Wladimir Klitschko in 2017. Ruiz is a far better boxer with superior hand speed than Hasim Rahman was. Ruiz is a combination puncher. Rahman was a guy that loaded up on single shots, and would look to knockout his opponents. Ruiz is far more well-rounded fighter than Rahman. If Lewis had to fight a guy as talented as Ruiz in a rematch, he probably lost to him. The chances of Joshua losing the rematch to Ruiz are extremely high, given that he was getting worked over each time the Southern California native would open up with his combinations.

A second fight could easily go Ruiz’s way, because he’s got Joshua’s number in terms of hand speed, combination punching, and inside fighting skills. Joshua doesn’t have any of those attributes. He’s just a big fighters with excellent power, but those guys only carry you so far. Ruiz has the better boxing IQ, and he’s going to take advantage of that once again if Joshua makes the mistake of fighting him in quick rematch in November or December.

“He’s young. Get together in the gym, and let his mind clear,” Foreman said about Joshua. “When you get knocked out, it almost take a year before you get yourself back together. It’s like you broke your leg, but it was really the jaw, and you need to recuperate. Go back and start all over again,” said Foreman.

Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) should at least consider taking some time off from fighting dangerous guys like Ruiz for the time being. A year would be a good idea. That doesn’t mean that Joshua still can’t fight during that time. Fighting a few easy opponents would be good for him, because he could experiment by trying different things. Joshua could also work on his stamina by intentionally letting his fights go 10 to 12 rounds. Joshua never developed his stamina because he’s scored so many knockouts. It’s impossible for a fighter to get well conditioned if they’re knocking everyone out in two or three rounds.

Foreman: Joshua can become champion again

“He can become champion again,” said Foreman about Joshua. “Make him [Ruiz] fight him in England, where the weather suits his body, and he’ll get the title back again. Leave Ruiz alone. Let him alone,”

Bringing Ruiz back to England is no guarantee for success for Joshua. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn seems to think it’ll help Joshua by getting Ruiz back to the UK for the rematch, but that might not be the case. Ruiz is a different animal than the guys that Joshua has been knocking out in England. Ruiz is a better fighter than the 40-year-old Wladimir that Joshua beat in 2017. In other words, Ruiz isn’t going to let Joshua off the hook if he knocks him down in London the way Wladimir did. Ruiz is going to finish Joshua off.

“He’s in the mix. One punch doesn’t change that. He’ll be back,” said Foreman about Joshua. “He’ll probably be better the next time, because now he’s going to have something he should have had beforehand – fear of being defeated. He didn’t have that,” said Foreman.

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