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Eddie Hearn says he had no say in Anthony Joshua’s decision to fight Andy Ruiz in rematch

Anthony Joshua

By Barry Holbrook: Eddie Hearn is already putting himself in position to where he won’t get negative flak from fans for Anthony Joshua taking immediate rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7th. He obviously knows that the fans are going to be questioning his motives for making the rematch if Ruiz crushes Joshua again.

There’s already a lot of boxing fans saying Joshua and Hearn are taking the immediate rematch with Ruiz out of greed. The purse split will be better for Joshua if he takes the immediate rematch with Ruiz due to the rematch clause from their previous fight on June 1.

Hearn says he didn’t have a say so in the decision for Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) to take the rematch with Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) straightaway. It was Joshua who made the call, says Hearn. He’s the one that wanted the rematch right away with ‘The Destroyer’ Ruiz, and he could soon regret it if things don’t work out well for him.

It doesn’t matter that Hearn is trying to distance himself from the decision for Joshua to take the rematch. There’s still going to be a huge amount of criticism directed at Hearn if Joshua loses a second time to Ruiz. Hearn is the captain of the ship, and this means he’s going to take the heat from the fans for him allowing AJ to fight Ruiz without at least one tune-up.

Hearn says he had no say in Joshua’s decision in taking Ruiz rematch

“That’s why he’s taking this fight now instead of a warm-up fight,” said Hearn to secondsout. “He could have made $10 million fighting. No, because, one, I don’t have any say,” said Hearn when asked if he wanted Joshua to take a warm-up fight rather than a straight rematch with Ruiz. “Two, some people say to me, ‘Do you think he should have had a warm-up fight?’ I would say, ‘It might have benefited him to have a warm-up fight, but when would you have gotten the shot?” said Hearn.

As you can see, Hearn is already giving himself cover to fend off criticism from the boxing public if the rematch for Joshua blows up in their faces. If Ruiz massacres Joshua in the same manner as the first fight, Hearn and AJ are going to look incredibly bad. Since Hearn is the promoter, he’ll likely receive the brunt of the criticism from boxing fans.

They’ll say he should have known better than to put Joshua in immediate rematch with a guy clearly has his number. That’s why some people say this was a greed-based decision on Hearn and Joshua’s part in taking the rematch with Ruiz right away, because the terms favored AJ. If Joshua hadn’t fought Ruiz right away, then the rematch clause would be void. When Hearn and Joshua did eventually negotiate the rematch with Ruiz, it would have likely been less favorable terms than what was spelled out in the rematch clause.

Joshua is the favorite to beat Ruiz in rematch

“Let’s be honest; the favorite in this fight is Anthony Joshua. It might be marginal, but he’s still a favorite in this fight,” said Hearn. “If you are a favorite in a fight to make this kind of money, and to win the unified heavyweight titles, don’t wait, because anything can happen. You might get blocked in time.

You might lose the opportunity, and you might get injured. Who knows what’s going to happen? So you’ve got to take this opportunity while it’s there, and Joshua wants the challenge.  He [Joshua] feels he should have beaten Ruiz last time out, so he wants to fight him again. He will never take easy fights,” said Hearn.

The way Hearn is talking about Joshua being the favorite, it sounds like an argument that he’s made before many times. It makes you wonder if this is something that Hearn told Joshua to talk him into taking the immediate rematch with Ruiz rather than being smart and getting a few warm-up fights in.

It doesn’t matter that the odds-makers have Joshua as the favorite for the rematch. These are the same people that had Joshua as the favorite in the first fight with Ruiz, and they proved they made a mistake with their judgement. Now they’re picking Joshua again to win, and Hearn is using that to justify the decision to make the rematch.

Hearn: Joshua may retire if he beats Ruiz

“I don’t know what the future holds for Anthony Joshua if he wins this fight,” said Hearn. “Actually, I’m more certain what the future holds if he loses this fight, he will continue to work away, and continue to try and improve. He’ll be 24 fights in, having lost to one man, and he’s unified the heavyweight division twice. But if he wins, I don’t know what he’s going to do; he may retire,” said Hearn.

Joshua isn’t going to retire if he beats Ruiz. Hearn sounds like he’s grabbing at straws in order to pump up more interest in the rematch on December 7. Hopefully, Hearn doesn’t continue down this path by trying to sell the Joshua-Ruiz rematch by saying, ‘This is the last time you’ll get to see Joshua fight, because he’s retiring.’ It’s an old trick to tell fans that this is the last time they get to see a fighter compete. Hearn needs to promote the Joshua vs. Ruiz fight just based on how good of a match-up it is rather than resorting to talking about AJ potentially retiring afterwards.

Joshua not intentionally trimming down his weight

“Ruiz is Ruiz. I don’t think it matters what he comes in,” said Hearn. “What is he, 265 last time? Whether he weighs 265, 260 or 270, is it going to make a difference? He knows how to fight. He’s been doing this since he was six-years-old. He knows how to let his hands go, and he’s got that speed. Joshua, on the other hand, he’s not slimmed down out of choice. He’s just training differently. Obviously, he’s not in camp yet. He’s not doing his strength and conditioning. He’s not doing his lifting, but I think this time around, that’ll desert him a little bit in the build up.

It’ll be more focused on the boxing. It’s going to be more about the movement, slipping and defense. He’s got to get behind the jab. He’s got the strength. That’ll always be there. I think for this camp, they’ve gone from the [Jarrell] Miller fight, which was more about strength and being a big heavyweight to handle the pressure to handle him on the inside, to being good on your feet, moving in and out of range with Ruiz. I think that’ll benefit him if he’s lighter. So I think I don’t think it’s a major focus; ‘we must be lighter for the next.’ Because of the things they’re going to be working on, I think that’ll naturally happen,” said Hearn.

It’s not likely that Joshua will trim down to any great extent for the Ruiz rematch. Joshua might drop down to 240 pounds, but it won’t make a significant impact on his stamina. For Joshua to improve his cardio, he would need to get down to the 220s with his weight, and he’s not going to do that.

Joshua doesn’t want easy opponents

“He sees everybody else is doing it, so he sees mainly [Tyson] Fury,” said Hearn about Joshua’s recent comment about maybe he should start fighting soft opponents like the other heavyweights. “So he looks at that and says, ‘All my career, I’ve fought really the best that was available or a mandatory or something like that. So where’s my easy touch? Why did we fight Ruiz? Why didn’t we just fight, no disrespect, Otto Wallin or Tom Schwarz or someone like that?’ Because we wanted to deliver good fights, and he wanted a challenge. He expects that, and he wants that,” Hearn said.

Some boxing fans would make an argument that Hearn has been feeding Joshua a lot of easy opponents during his career. It’s not been pure quality opposition for AJ for his entire six-year pro career. There’s been a lot of soft jobs thrown in. In the last four years of Joshua’s career, he’s fought these fighters:

  • Gary Cornish
  • Carlos Takam
  • Eric Molina
  • Charles Martin
  • Jason Gavern
  • Raphael Zumbano
  • Kevin Johnson
  • Dominic Breazeale

It’s a given that Joshua will fight the remainder of his career in the 240s to 250s regions.

Deontay Wilder not of interest to Hearn and Joshua now

“During the Joshua press conference week, as we found on May 28th, he announced the Luis Ortiz fight on Joshua-Ortiz press week,” said Hearn about Deontay Wilder saying he wants to fight the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz rematch. “We are now on September the 7th; he still hasn’t announced that fight. This is press week. Now all of a sudden he wants to fight Joshua. Now all of a sudden it’s ‘one face, one man,’ whatever it is he always says. Where was he saying this six months ago? All of a sudden he didn’t care about that. ‘Oh, no, I’m not going to fight Joshua.’ Now all of a sudden you want that, because it’s press week.

Worry about yourself, and worry about your fight. I’m just so pleased that we’ve got the biggest fight in heavyweight boxing, and we can focus on one man, which is Andy Ruiz. He’s the number one heavyweight in the world, and more importantly he’s the biggest star in world boxing. To come back from a defeat like that, and to regain your heavyweight world titles will be absolutely epic. The world will be watching on December 7th,” said Hearn.

This is not the time for Joshua to be looking over his shoulder at a unification fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Until Joshua beats Ruiz, there’s no way he can look at a fight against Wilder.

Hearn not sure if Joshua will fight Wilder next

“We’ll see,” said Hearn when asked if he’ll match Joshua against Deontay Wilder next if Tyson Fury steps aside and doesn’t face ‘The Bronze Bomber’ on February 22. “Right now, there’s no value in thinking about Deontay Wilder. Just think about beating Andy Ruiz on December 7th,” said Hearn.

Wilder mentioned last week that he would like to have Tyson Fury step aside so that he can fight the Joshua vs. Ruiz 2 winner. But Fury isn’t going to do that, and his promoters at Top Rank aren’t going to give him permission. However, if Joshua and Wilder both win their next couple of fights, then a unification fight between them is a must. Wilder still needs to beat Luis Ortiz later this year, and then beat Fury in a rematch in February. It’s premature to talk about a Joshua vs. Wilder fight right now given the important fights both guys have in front of them.


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