Teddy Atlas reacts to Anthony Joshua’s win over Andy Ruiz
By Chris Williams: Teddy Atlas wasn’t all that impressed with what he saw from Anthony Joshua in his win last Saturday night over a badly overweight Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KOs) in Saudi Arabia. Atlas was stunned at the transformation that Joshua has done in going from an aggressive lion-like knockout artist to that of a timid fighter, who looked “fragile” at all times against Ruiz.
The lack of confidence that Joshua showed during the contest gave Atlas the impression that had been glued together by his team team mentally. Atlas compares Joshua to Humpty Dumpty, who was shattered into a million pieces, and then put back together.
Joshua didn’t look like the old Humpty Dumpty, and it’s as if they put him back together wrong. AJ’s training team put him back together together, but they made mistakes along the way. They did the best they could in resembling Joshua piece by piece, but what they ended up with was nothing like the original product.
Joshua looked mentally shattered
The finished product that we saw against Ruiz fought like he was afraid of his own shadow. While Joshua’s loyal boxing fans were pleased with how he fought, many neutral saw a fighter that was simply boring to watch.
Ruiz still has a chance for trilogy fight
“He was beating a 283 lb guy, but he could only be responsible for his part,” said Atlas on THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas in talking about Joshua’s win over Ruiz. “He was prepared to be different. Ruiz wasn’t prepared the way he needed to be prepared. I’m giving him all the credit for doing what he had to do with what he had, but he wasn’t in there with Joe Frazier, and he wasn’t in there with George Foreman.
“I know those guys don’t exist anymore, but he wasn’t even in there with a prepared Ruiz. He was there with a guy that went down that treacherous road of allowing the fame and the money to allow him to forget about how you want to feel yourself the day after. It bothered me that he [Ruiz] cared so little about those opportunities that come so rarely.
“There’s still a chance,” said Teddy about Ruiz possibly getting a third fight with Joshua. “Who are they going to fight? They’re [Team Joshua] only going to fight guys they control, that Hearn controls, and that DAZN controls. They’re not going to fight guys from another network, and another promoter unless it’s so big that they can work out a deal, which happens,” said Atlas.
Joshua’s immediate plans are for him to likely defend against his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) next April, and then possibly against his WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk in the second half of 2020. That’s if Joshua doesn’t vacate his WBO belt. It works to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn’s benefit if Joshua vacaates the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title, because that would enable Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) to easily pick up the strap. Hearn’s Matchroom Sport company promotes the 32-year-old Usyk, so it’s a big positive for him.
Joshua looked fragile against Ruiz – Atlas
I saw fragile-ness,” said Atlas about Joshua. “I still saw Humpty Dumpty fall and get broken into a million parts, and do what had to be done to get put together. But I still had a funny feeling every once in a while in those small spots where Ruiz DID move his hands, and did get close. Is Humpty Dumpty really back together?
“Is Humpty Dumpty going to fall apart again? Do I see a crack in the eggshell? Yeah. Calm down, Eddie [Hearn]. A lot of money involved, I get it. But please, stop acting like he defeated [a good fighter]. He said, ‘The King is back.’ Eddie, he [Joshua] didn’t just beat the Roman army. He didn’t beat them. It was more like a college fraternity at a keg party. You defeated one of them in the middle of a keg party, because that’s kind of how Ruiz represented himself as on that night.
“So you didn’t exactly beat the Roman empire. But you did what you had to do. But you saw in those moments, and he did what he had to do to survive those moments. He grabbed, he held and he survived, but there were moments were you saw some fragileness where you had to be worried.
“If you are a fan of Joshua’s, your heart had to go, ‘Boom!’ I mean, really. He’s [Joshua] not the guy that you thought he was going to be, but give him credit for coming back and reinventing himself, and doing what he had to do, especially on the mental side. But he’s not the guy that we hoped he would be. I think that’s fair,” said Atlas.
Joshua is definitely NOT the fighter that you thought he was going to be. At this point in Joshua’s career, he’s now a spoiler.
Atlas: Joshua has the mindset of a lightweight
“When he got up off the floor against Klitschko, this big, strong guy who could take your punch, make you miss and take you apart,” said Altas about Joshua. “There was fragileness hovering over the ring. I saw it everytime Ruiz got close. You didn’t feel that before. You weren’t aware that he had that flaw before.
“A sideline reporter said, ‘This time, he did what he was supposed to do by listening to his trainer.’ Don’t insult me. What was supposed to do, run all over the place? Joshua wasn’t the guy he was with Klitschko. Why? Because he had too many more millions of dollars in his bank account that he didn’t have when he fought Klitschko. He had that safety net. He’s now a different guy. We don’t feel that force anymore.
“If he was that guy, he could have stood there and took Ruiz out of there. He’s not hard to hit. It’s not like he’s Mayweather in there. If he was that guy, he could have taken Ruiz apart. Can you imagine Mike Tyson during his hayday against Ruiz? You didn’t have to go all over the ring, but now he does. How does that new guy [Joshua] stack up with other guys?
“He’s a 240 lb heavyweight with the mindset of a lightweight. He’s Goliath with David in his head. It stacked up against Ruiz, but how does it stack up against the other guys?” said Atlas about Joshua with his new rebirth,” said Atlas.
Joshua should have lost the fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2017. If you go back and look at that fight, Joshua was done after 6 rounds. If Wladimir had Joshua both hurt and gassed out badly after six rounds. He could have finished Joshua at any time.
Joshua can’t beat Wilder or Fury
“Hearn isn’t going to let him go outside the ranch,” said Atlas about the heavyweights that we’ll see Joshua fight. “Back in the days past, I thought Joshua was the best heavyweight out there. “I can no longer think that this guy can beat Wilder or Fury just like that. And I can no longer think that. I used to think it before, and I had a reason to think about it. But I can no longer say, ‘I can see this guy handling Wilder or Fury. Those are the two top guys. So when you ask who he’s [Joshua] going to fight next. First of all, he’s going to fight someone they can control, Hearn and DAZN.
“When the doors are closed, they’ll [Hearn and DAZN] say, ‘We saw what Teddy is talking about. He looked terrific, he came back.’ Again, all the credit in the world, but there’s a fragileness. Now he’s a boxer, and now he’s a mover. He was the physically strong guy, but now someone else can be the lion, and make him the prey, because he’s the Fox now. Foxes get eaten sometime, you know? Sometimes Lions like to snack on them,” said Atlas.
Joshua should have changed fighting style in 2018
Joshua’s training team and promoter should have made this change to his game two years ago after he was exposed by Klitschko. In that fight, Wladimir showed the world that Joshua doesn’t possess the chin or the stamina to slug with his opponents. He’s too fragile, and his engine is so bad that he can’t fight hard without emptying his tank almost immediately. Hearn was smart in matching Joshua against weak heavyweights.
It’s a miracle that Joshua was able to win his next three fights AFTER he was exposed by Wladimir, because he could have easily lost if he’d fought someone good during that time. Hearn was smart to match Joshua against Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin. Those were beatable guys that couldn’t expose Joshua’s chin and stamina. Parker might have been able to beat Joshua, but the referee that worked that fight basically kept him away from AJ. You can’t even really count that as a true fight. That’s one of those matches that you put a mental asterisk next it, because it looked more like a sparring session.
Oleksandr Usyk has a chance of beating Joshua now
“This new Joshua, with his nervousness, how does he stack up against [the best heavyweights],” said Atlas. “Do you still think Usyk is too small? He’s still fighting a guy that is still Goliath, a big guy, bigger than Usyk, but the guy driving him now is David. Remember him? The guy with the slingshot. He’s got a different mentality. Joshua thinks differently now.
“Usyk is now not in with a big monster. The playing field has suddenly changed. It’s suddenly evened out now for Usyk, who is a winner, who has that great amateur pedigree, who is a world champion in his own right, undefeated, who has a brain in his head, who has legs, who hangs out with Lomachenko. Yeah, it’s a whole different ball game, a whole different ball game,” said Atlas.
Usyk definitely has a chance of beating Joshua, but a lot will depend on where the fight takes place and who works as the referee. If Joshua gets the type of referee that worked his fight against Parker, then Usyk is going to have a hard time trying to beat him.
Usyk didn’t look all that good in his last two fights against Chazz Witherspoon and Tony Bellew. He got marked up by the slow as molasses 38-year-old Witherspoon last October, and wasn’t pressured hard in that fight. Bellew was beating Usyk up until the time he stopped him in the 8th. Usyk didn’t look good in 3 out of his last 4 fights.
Casual boxing fans obviously weren’t watching carefully how Usyk struggled against Bellew, Witherspoon and Mairis Briedis. The only fight that Usyk looked good in was against Murat Gassiev in 2018. Joshua can probably beat Usyk, and Hearn probably knows that.
Joshua better off fighting Fury than Wilder
“Fury, because of the power would not be there,” said Atlas, when asked who Joshua would prefer to fight between Fury and Wilder. “If Joshua was in the ring with Wilder, the ghosts may show up again, because he has the thing that would bring the ghosts back, the right hand.
“He’s much better off with Fury, because with Fury, you can get away with shenanigans. You could play. You could play around with Fury, you could box, and steal time, and get a break. Wilder is always looking for the right hand. He’s always in search and destroy mode. It’s a different feel, and it’s a whole different hunt, if you will.
“So Fury is the most technically sound of the heavyweights, I give him credit, but he doesn’t press the metal to the floor all the time in that kind of way, where you have that hanging over your head. Wilder #1,” said Atlas when giving his ranking of the top heavyweights. “I think he’s the hardest punching heavyweight I’ve ever seen. #2, I would make Fury, and then Joshua,” said Atlas.
Deontay Wilder is the much bigger threat to Joshua than Fury due to his punching power, and his seek and destroy fighting style. Hearn will likely be pulling for Fury to beat Wilder in their rematch on February 22.
Even if Wilder wins, it’s predictable that Hearn will tell the boxing public that he felt that Fury should have won. In other words, Hearn will likely try and discredit Wilder’s victory, and by doing so decrease the pressure the fans put on Joshua to face him. I think we saw that from Hearn after Wilder’s previous fight with Fury last year. Hearn said afterwards that Fury deserved a win despite him getting dropped TWICE by Wilder.
Atlas NOT interested in seeing Joshua vs. Ruiz trilogy
“I wouldn’t want to see it,” said Atlas when asked if he’d be interested in seeing Joshua face Ruiz in a trilogy match. “I think there’s a possibility, because who else are you going to fight? But even if he gets in shape, he’s still going to be that pondering with cement in his feet, that predictable, one-dimensional guy, especially if you box him on the perimeter of the ring.
“You’re still going to see flaws, whether he’s 15 lbs less or he’s 15 lbs more. Once he moves his hands, he has decent hand speed, but he’s not a guy that’s always on you, he’s not a guy that is always active. It’s onlys spots that you have to worry about. Again, he’s a one dimensional guy. Someone is going to have to teach him how to cut the ring down.
“So you’re still going to have that. It doesn’t make me excited thinking, ‘Let me mark that on my calendar when that reach is coming. I can’t wait to see that one.’ They [Matchroom, Hearn and Joshua] can only fight certain guys, and they can only feel safe fighting certain guys. I can see them feeling safe, ‘Okay, this is a guy that we can beat again.’
“So for those reasons and necessity, and maybe they can sell it by saying, ‘This time he’ll be in shape, and he’ll do what he did the first time,’ which I’m not buying. Is it a possibility [that Joshua faces Ruiz in trilogy match]. Yes, it’s a possibility,” said Atlas.
Not too many boxing fans want to see Joshua ever fight Ruiz again, but that doesn’t mean they won’t fight again. As Atlas points out, Ruiz will be marketed and sold to the public as being the fighter that beat Joshua the first time.