Hearn says Joshua will pick location for Ruiz Jr. rematch
By Tim Royner: Anthony Joshua will be using his rematch clause in his contract with Andy Ruiz Jr. to make the second fight with the American later this year likely in November. According to ESPN, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says AJ has the final say so for the location of the fight.
Joshua triggered his contractual rematch clause on Tuesday for a second fight with Ruiz. Joshua had 30 days to decide whether he wanted to take the rematch with Ruiz Jr., but he made the decision quick after meeting with Hearn, trainer Rob McCracken and the rest of his training team.
The advantages for Joshua fighting at home
AJ seems more comfortable fighting at home in the UK. Joshua wasn’t with it last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden without a monstrous pro-Joshua crowd cheering his every move. There was a lot of Joshua fans estimated at over 8,000 at MSG last Saturday, but that pales in comparison to the football stadium crowds that Joshua routinely brings in when fighting in the UK. If the rematch does take place in the UK, hopefully there’s premature stoppages or a referee that prevents inside fighting like we’ve seen in the past in some of Joshua’s fights.
Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) was knocked out in the 7th round last Saturday night by underdog Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Hearn states he prefers that the rematch take place in the UK. This is obviously won’t make Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) happy, because he wants the rematch to take place in Mexico or the United States. Ruiz feels that as the new IBF/WBA/WBO unified heavyweight champion, he should be the one that makes the decision where the fight will take place. Hearn has other ideas.
Hearn: The rematch makes sense to take place in UK
“We have to look at everything. The people at DAZN [the U.S. broadcaster] and Madison Square Garden would like to do Part 2 in the U.S. Joshua came to Andy Ruiz’s country for the first fight, so it kind of makes sense to the second fight in the U.K,” said Hearn to ESPN.com.
With Joshua’s career on the line, you can understand the need for the rematch with Ruiz to be staged in the United Kingdom. Joshua wasn’t the same fighter last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden that he’s been in the past when fighting in the UK.
Here’s Hearn’s Tweet about Joshua triggering his rematch clause:
“After meetings with AJ, Rob Mc and the management team in NY, we have today triggered the contracted rematch clause with Andy Ruiz Jnr. The fight will take place in Nov/Dec at a venue to be confirmed shortly.”
Joshua will look weak in the eyes of some fans if he insists on fighting Ruiz in UK
Insisting on the rematch taking place in the UK instead of letting Ruiz, the unified IBF/WBA/WBO champion, make the call will make it look like Joshua needs to fight at home. WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder says Joshua is a “broken man” and is “mentally weak.” If Joshua needs the rematch with Ruiz to take place in the UK in order to have confidence, it’ll just validate what Wilder is saying about AJ being mentally weak.
AJ was essentially fighting at home at Madison Square Garden
You can argue that last Saturday’s fight was for all intents and purposes in the UK, because the venue favored Joshua overwhelming. Ruiz if from Southern California, not New York. Ruiz’s fans are on the West Coast of the United States. The two coasts are many miles apart. More importantly, Joshua had over 8,000 fans from the UK that were in attendance for the fight. The crowd were mostly Joshua fans.
Technically the fight was in the U.S, but this was almost like Joshua fighting at home. It’s very hard to imagine Hearn and Joshua not getting their way in having the rematch take place in the UK rather than in the United States of Mexico. The crowd was cheering Joshua in large numbers. It was similar to the situation Leo Santa Cruz was in when he fought Irish fighter Carl Frampton in Brooklyn, New York in 2016.
Although Santa Cruz, who comes from Southern California, was technically the American fighting at home, the crowd was overwhelmingly supporting Frampton. The reason for that is there’s a large population of fans in the New York area that are Irish. Frampton was like the home fighter, and he ended up winning a controversial decision over Santa Cruz in that fight. Boxing News 24 had Santa Cruz winning eight rounds to four. Santa Cruz’s fan base is in the Southern California area. Hearn believes that it’s only fair that the rematch between
Joshua and Ruiz be staged in the UK, but the fight should take place in Southern California or Mexico, because Ruiz didn’t get a chance to fight in front of his own fans last Saturday. The crowd was filled Joshua fans due to the location of the fight being so far from Ruiz’s home in Southern California. You’ve got to give Hearn credit for being able to wrangle a deal for the Joshua vs. Ruiz fight to take place in New York, because that gave AJ home advantage. If Hearn is able to get the second fight between them in the UK, it would once again put Ruiz at a disadvantage with the crowd.
“There was no point in waiting,” Hearn said to ESPN.com. “We’ve talked about it and it’s happening. There’s no other fight AJ wants, so there was no point waiting 30 days. Everybody needs clarity. We sat down and it wasn’t even a case of him asking what else is out there. The rematch is the fight we need, and that’s what we’ll be doing.”
Joshua could be making a big mistake by electing to take the rematch with Ruiz Jr. now rather than waiting for AJ to get some tune-ups in. Hearn is blaming Joshua’s loss on him being hurt in the third round. That may not be the case. Ruiz was just the better fighter of the two.