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It was one of the biggest shocks in boxing history. Anthony Joshua, the hottest property in heavyweight boxing, was supposed to put on a show on his American debut. Some of those inside Madison Square Garden hadn’t even heard of Joshua’s opponent, Andy Ruiz Jr, who was a late replacement after Jarrell Miller failed a drugs test. And yet it was Ruiz’s name on the back pages of newspapers all over the world the following morning thanks to his incredible win.
There were all sorts of rumours swirling around in the immediate aftermath of the fight. Had Joshua suffered a head injury shortly before the fight? Was he forced to fight when unfit against his better judgement? Was his poor performance due to being knocked out in a sparring session in training?
Those rumours were never proven but whatever happened before the fight it was clear that something was wrong with Joshua early on. This was no one-punch knockout, Joshua was floored twice in the third round and Ruiz’s corner knew there was a real opportunity for their man long before the fight was stopped in the seventh round.
For Ruiz, winning the fight meant that life was now secure for himself and his family. For Joshua, it left all sorts of questions – questions that will be answered one way or another when the hastily arranged rematch takes place in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.
Anthony Joshua 4/9 (Unibet)
Andy Ruiz Jr 2/1 (Ladbrokes)
Draw 33/1 (Paddy Power)
(Please note all odds are correct at time of article publishing)
Anthony Joshua heads into Saturday’s fight as the clear favourite but the bookies aren’t offering anything like the sort of prices available about him in the first fight. Despite rumours of yet more sparring problems, Joshua has made it clear than his preparations have been better this time around and that he knows exactly what he is fighting for. Still, the bookies have priced in the chance of another upset with Ruiz available at 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
There were many boxing fans who remained unconvinced about Joshua’s ability even when he was seemingly at the height of his powers in the middle of his unbeaten run. He is – rather unfairly – viewed by some more as an athlete than a technically brilliant boxer and there were plenty of very apparent problems with his performance against Ruiz.
Armed with the lessons he learned from the first fight, Ruiz will relish his billing as the underdog in the Diriyah Arena. He’ll be expecting and preparing for a much better this time around and is confident that the work he’s put in in his training camp will see him through with another win.
Ruiz’s best chance of winning the fight is by blunting Joshua’s early power. He has great punch power heavyweight around which makes him dangerous even if he lacks the top-level boxing skills of some of his peers. Ruiz will doubtless make a nuisance of himself but Joshua has solved that sort of challenge before in his career and will surely solve it again in what could prove to be a career-defining fight so back the British fighter to win at a best price of 4/9 with Unibet.
Joshua by KO, TKO or Disqualification 5/6 (bet365)
Ruiz Jr by KO, TKO or Disqualification 3/1 (Betfred)
Joshua by Decision or Technical Decision 4/1 (Coral)
Ruiz Jr by Decision or Technical Decision 14/1 (William Hill)
Draw or Technical Draw 33/1 (Sportingbet)
The bookies are clearly not expecting the rematch to go the distance. Both Joshua and Ruiz Jr have seriously impressive power and will be tempted to secure an eye-catching win in front of what is sure to be a big TV audience.
Joshua heads into the fight armed with a lot more information this time around compared to Madison Square Garden. He will obviously be wary about Ruiz’s power and will surely protect his head much better this time around. But, Joshua will be more concerned about what he can do in a positive sense and if he does win, is likely to do it via a stoppage which you can back at 5/6 with bet365.
Joshua in Round 7 @ 14/1 (William Hill)
Joshua in Round 5 @ 14/1 (bet365)
Joshua in Round 6 @ 14/1 (William Hill)
Joshua in Round 4 @ 14/1 (888Sport)
Joshua in Round 8 @ 16/1 (William Hill)
Joshua in Round 9 @ 16/1 (Ladbrokes)
Joshua in Round 3 @ 18/1 (Unibet)
Joshua in Round 2 @ 22/1 (bet365)
Anybody feeling very confident about Joshua’s chances of exacting revenge on Ruiz Jr can really put their money where their mouth is by having a shot at the Round Betting Market. Doubtless, Joshua would love to answer all the questions that have come his way from the first fight in emphatic style with an early knockout win. The odds of 18/1 that Unibet are quoting on Joshua winning in Round 3 are tempting in that regard but we think Ruiz Jr will be able to frustrate the favourite for a while. Therefore, a safer betting option is taking the 6/5 that Coral are quoting on Over 8.5 Rounds.
Anthony Joshua to Win at 4/9 with Unibet
Over 8.5 Rounds at 6/5 with Coral