Anthony Joshua finally gets the chance to show the American boxing market why he should be crowned king of the heavyweight division when he makes his Stateside debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Standing across the ring from the IBO, WBA ‘Super’, WBO and IBF champion will be Andy Ruiz Jr, hardly a star in his own right but a man who has a few tricks up his sleeve which could spoil Joshua’s big night.
The Olympic champion is unsurprisingly a very short 1/100 to win the fight as he seeks to extend his unbeaten record to 23-0. Ruiz, who is 12/1 to spring a huge surprise, is seen as a step down in quality when compared to Joshua’s recent opponents.
The Mexican fighter’s stock isn’t helped by the fact he is a stand-in for Jarrell Miller, who was forced to withdraw in mid-April. ‘Big Baby’ was seen as a man who could hype up this bout, while mild-mannered Ruiz is unlikely to make too many headlines before fight night.
However, the 29-year-old shouldn’t be completely overlooked. He has a record of 32-1, with his sole defeat coming via split decision when he challenged then-WBO champion Joseph Parker in 2016.
Ruiz has quick hands for a man of his size and carries plenty of punching power, just ask German Alexander Dimitrenko, who he knocked out in five rounds in April.
Joshua should still have too much for Ruiz though and he will be desperate to put on a show in his first bout on American soil. AJ hasn’t had too many early stoppages recently and looks unlikely to repeat the recent trick of fellow heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder in recording a first-round knockout.
The 29-year-old Briton has become a bit more cautious since having something to lose but expect him to try to blast Ruiz out at the earliest possible opportunity.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has put together a stacked undercard to support Joshua’s American debut, including Callum Smith‘s first defence of his WBA middleweight title against Hassan N’Dam. Smith hasn’t fought since stopping George Groves in September but is 1/200 to defeat former world champ N’Dam.
The Frenchman’s only been stopped once in his career and Smith hasn’t stopped his last four opponents inside the first six rounds, meaning a late stoppage offers some value.
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