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Malignaggi analyses Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch

Anthony Joshua Paulie Malignaggi

By Charles Brun: Paulie Malignaggi believes that Anthony Joshua was unprepared for a tough fight the last time out against Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1. Joshua didn’t know how to react after getting dropped unexpectedly twice in round 3, and he never recovered. Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) went on to stop Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) in the 7th round, and sent him home to Great Britain in defeat.

Malignaggi says Joshua was unable to “stabilize himself” after finding himself on the canvas early in the fight, because it was something he hadn’t prepared for mentally. In his fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, Joshua was mentally prepared for a hard fight, according to Malignaggi. Against Ruiz, it was a different story possibly. Joshua saw a fat guy looking like a non-athlete, and he took it for granted that he’d roll over the guy.

Joshua didn’t expect a hard fight against Ruiz

“I think in the Ruiz fight, it’s possible that when you don’t expect a tough fight, and you’re in a tough fight, your mind can never stabilize itself,” said Malignaggi to Fighthype.  “I think in the Klitschko fight, he was expecting a tough fight. So when it got tough, mentally he stayed with it. Maybe in the Ruiz fight, he took him lightly. Maybe in the Ruiz fight when he goes down on his a–, he suddenly found himself in a place where he may not have expected to find himself in that fight.

In the Klitschko fight, he probably told himself, ‘I may wind up on my a–, but it’s not going to mean that the fight is over.’ In the Ruiz fight, he’s on his a–, and he might be thinking, ‘I shouldn’t even be here. What happened.’ And you certainly can’t stabilize yourself mentally in the fight. And before you know it, the fight is over,” said Malignaggi.

Malignaggi is giving Joshua a bit too much credit by saying that he wasn’t able to “stabilize himself” after being dropped early on by Ruiz. It looked more like a case of Joshua being over-matched against a guy with better hand speed, combination punching and better chin. It’s not as if Joshua hadn’t already shown signs of having punch resistance problems in the past. He was hurt against Wladimir, Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte. The early warning signs were there that Joshua wasn’t going to stay unbeaten for long. One would have to be naive to believe that Joshua was going to stay unbeaten for his entire career, even with the careful match-making that was being done by his promoter Eddie Hearn. The chin problems were there to be seen a long time ago with Joshua.

Maliggaggi: Andy Ruiz is no Butterbean

“If you thought Andy Ruiz was just showing up as a happy go looking guy during fight week, then he played you for a sucker, because he’s a fighter and a top contender,” said Malignaggi. “And he was a top contender before that fight. He was one of the top contenders, and he wasn’t a Butterbean. And, he may look chubby, but he’s not Butterbean. He was a guy that was a legitimate heavyweight contender. So if you believe he was just showing up to as a happy go-looking guy, you got played as a sucker,” said Malignaggi.

Klitschko, Takam, Whyte and Povetkin are basically the only really good fighters that Joshua has fought during his pro career.  Povetkin and Klitschko were both 40-ish by the time Joshua fought them. Hearn didn’t attempt to match Joshua against those guys when they were a little younger. Why didn’t Hearn want to match Joshua against those guys when they were younger? The answer is obvious. Joshua would have likely lost to both.

Some would include Joseph Parker among the list of good fighters on Joshua’s resume, but he wasn’t able to get close to him due to the referee pulling him away. Joshua-Parker was more of an odd exhibition type of fight rather than a real one. It counted as a real fight, but it was the strangest matches you’ll ever see in boxing.

Joshua will have edge against Ruiz in rematch

“Maybe from a mental perspective, he knows how dangerous Ruiz can be now, and he’ll have more of an edge to him,” said Malignaggi. “I can’t see a guy like Joshua having such a mental edge in one fight, and then having no mental edge. It didn’t come together for me. I think the edge that he had, it’s going to be there for the rematch. It’s not that Andy doesn’t have the edge too, because he always had it. We’re talking about Joshua because he got beat. I think Joshua comes with that edge for this fight. It’s tough, man. We might see a fight where they both get up off their a– again,” said Malignaggi. 

Obviously the person with the edge in the rematch is Ruiz, not Joshua. It’s impossible to say that Joshua has the edge, because he was utterly destroyed by Ruiz last June. Whether Joshua wants to acknowledge it or not, he’s got mental demons crowding his head from that experience, and he’s not going to be able to dismiss them. Ruiz Jr. exposed Joshua as a fighter with a huge problems with his game, and he’s clearly not the guy that his boxing fans thought he was.

It’s not all that unexpected that Joshua, 29, overlooked Ruiz, because a lot of boxing fans had dismissed him before the fight as a non-threat. Ruiz was judged on his physique, as well as the fact that he’d lost to Parker in the past. The casual boxing fans didn’t bother to go back and look at video of the Ruiz-Parker fight to see that Ruiz arguably should have won the fight. The fight took place in Parker’s home country of New Zealand, and he had a huge advantage over Ruiz from the very start.

Joshua had no choice but to take Ruiz rematch

“I think you’re in a position where you have to, because Joshua is the one that unified the titles, and you don’t want to risk those titles becoming unified, and all the politics coming into play,” said Malignaggi. “It kind of puts you in a bad position if you don’t take the immediate rematch. Whether you agree with it or not, you kind of have to do it, otherwise you’re going to put all the work that you did, you’re going to risk it coming undone, even if you fight him later. Granted, you can say if he loses again, he’s going to risk losing the work anyway. Sure, of course. You roll the dice. That’s what boxing is, isn’t it? He played everybody all week,” said Malignaggi about Ruiz having been underestimated as a chubby guy with no chance,” said Malignaggi.

Malignaggi is correct about Joshua needing to take the rematch with Ruiz straightaway rather than waiting two or three fights. Joshua had to take the fight with Ruiz in order to keep his fan base together, and to continue the gravy train. Malignaggi thinks that Joshua had to fight Ruiz immediately in order to keep all the titles together in one lump, but that’s nonsense. With Joshua’s popularity, he could get a fight against any of the champions. So even if Ruiz did lose one or two of his belts, it would be easy for Joshua to setup fights against them to try and win the straps back.


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