Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, Jr. Pick

Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, Jr. Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, June 1, 2019
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
TV: DAZN
Weight Class: Heavyweights
Titles: IBF, WBA, WBO Heavyweight Titles
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Anthony Joshua, 22-0 (21 KOs), Watford, England
Vs.
Andy Ruiz, Jr., 32-1 (21 KOs), Imperial, California

Betting Odds: Anthony Joshua (-2000), Andy Ruiz, Jr. (+1000)
Over/Under: Over 6.5 (+100), Under 6.5 (-130)

Anthony Joshua defends his world heavyweight title belts against challenger Andy Ruiz, Jr. on June 1 at Madison Square Garden. Ruiz, Jr. is coming in as a late replacement for Jarrell Miller, who failed a drug test. Normally, such an incident would result in a reduction of the caliber of the challenger. I’m not so sure that’s the case with Ruiz, Jr. He certainly faces a tall task with the unbeaten Joshua, as the odds would suggest. There are still some qualities that Ruiz, Jr. possesses that could make this a tougher fight than anticipated. This is Joshua’s first stateside appearance and he will be facing a different opponent than anticipated. Is there enough daylight for Ruiz, Jr. or will Joshua emphatically prevail in the building called the Mecca of Boxing?

Granted, Ruiz, Jr. is not being given a lot of time to get ready. But maybe that will help, as he doesn’t have a ton of time to ponder his situation. He has been active and is coming off a TKO win over Alexander Dimitrenko on April 20, enabling him to carry some of that conditioning over to this title fight, however thrown-together it might be. It’s not that short of notice, as he will have had the better part of a month to get it together, coming off a fight a few weeks ago. Late opponents can catch heavily-favored champions by surprise and the history of the sport is replete with late-sub challengers scoring huge wins.

While some of the other top heavyweights in the world are fighting each other, there is a randomness to Joshua’s first American appearance. First came Miller, and now it’s Ruiz, Jr. There is still a lot of time for him to take on the big dogs and no conversation about the best heavyweight on the planet is complete without Joshua being a big part of the discussion. But again, opponent-changes and fighting guys who might not elicit a lot of fear could result in a reduction of focus and a compromised performance.

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Let’s face it, seeing these two in the ring makes for a jarring dichotomy. You have a guy in Joshua who is cut from granite—a statuesque six-foot-six powerhouse with an 82-inch reach. He is always ultra-ripped at around 245 pounds. In the other corner is Ruiz, Jr., gratuitously listed at 6’2″ with a 74-inch reach. He is built like mashed potatoes and you’d never peg him as a professional boxer at first glance. They are both 29 and that’s where the similarities end. But looks are deceiving. Ruiz, Jr. is a nifty boxer who has fast hands and a lot of guile. A ten-year pro, Ruiz, Jr. was a well-regarded amateur, though nowhere near the Olympic gold medalist Joshua.

As far as credentials go, Ruiz, Jr. can’t touch Joshua. Though he catches flack for having not yet taken on the likes of Fury or Wilder, Joshua has been tested against top-flight opposition like Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin, Speaking of Parker, he was Ruiz’ top opponent and his only pro loss. In 2016, Ruiz, Jr. lost a very narrow majority decision in New Zealand in his first shot at a title. In the ensuing 2.5 years, he has gone 3-0 against so-so opposition—nothing to make him a particularly compelling contender.

Credentials and recent body-of-work aside, Ruiz, Jr. has the fastest hands in the heavyweight division. It can be jarring when you see him and how he’s put together physically and then these combinations lash out with so much velocity. He gets in-close, not utilizing a ton of movement, as his hands are a lot quicker than his feet. Joshua himself isn’t an entirely-mobile fighter, meaning this fight could be a war, for however long it lasts. Ruiz, Jr. is an easy guy to underrate, looking like a bowling alley attendant from Yuma. But there is a naturalness to his game, accompanied with large doses of speed and fluidity. And on paper, those traits would seem to make him a reasonable upset-candidate against Joshua. A concussive hitter, the champ still isn’t the most fluid fighter, nor is he the quickest. His upper-body doesn’t move a ton and he is ponderous in his ring-work from time to time.

Be that as it may, Joshua is more than some aimless lumbering slugger who relies on just brawn to vanquish his foes. He has shown he can win a fight by blowing guys out with his booming power. And it’s not just good power. Solid connects are frequent game-enders and only a very-measured Joseph Parker has lasted the distance against him. But he also has the wherewithal to win a more drawn-out fight, while also showing he can rebound from the fringes of defeat. When he has needed to showcase his fight IQ, it has held up under questioning.

While AJ doesn’t move his head a ton and isn’t terribly-gifted defensively, he tends to not take a lot of punishment. His offense dissuades opponents from getting too aggressive. Opponents really need to be on the alert with Joshua, as he throws difference-making punches from different angles and distances, also showing he is a capable counterpuncher. He is well-schooled and has tremendous size and reach—making for a very formidable package in the ring. The margin of error isn’t very high. For Ruiz, Jr., that might make for a dangerous combination of problems in which he has to navigate.

I think Ruiz, Jr. has some definite underdog appeal. But to pick a guy like that to beat a powerhouse like Joshua, I’d tend to require better than 10-to-1 on my money. I see his speed and skills making for some exciting moments in this fight. I also see it arousing the early ire of Joshua. I see a bit of a firefight ensuing, with neither man prone to taking backward steps. Ruiz, Jr. will have some success, but his lack of power at this level will end up costing him. I don’t see this one going past the seventh round. I’m taking the “under” on the Joshua-Ruiz, Jr. fight.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Fight: I’m betting that the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, Jr. fight goes “under” 6.5 rounds. Did you know… that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There’s a better than good chance that you’re laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to BetAnySports Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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