Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Joshua-Ruiz, heavyweight stars and the boxing biz)

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JOSHUA VS. RUIZ

Hi Doug,

Try as I might, I can only see it ending badly for Andy Ruiz against Anthony Joshua on Saturday night. Not that I’m hating on the guy at all. He has a very respectable record and is as good a substitute as one could have hoped for. One could even argue that he has a better track record than Jarrell Miller.

I just can’t see him overcoming his height and reach disadvantages and I think his style is tailor made for Joshua.

Ruiz fights Mexican style. He is quicker than he looks and has a solid jab, which he showed against Parker. I like the solid technique he displays when he throws his straight right, especially to the body, but he takes a few to land a few. So far, he has never been in serious trouble, so he must have a pretty solid chin. After all, Parker couldn’t budge him but on the other hand, Parker hasn’t been able to put away the likes of Carlos Takam and Razvan Cojanu either. I think it is safe to say that he hasn’t fought anybody with the power of Joshua so whether he will be able to stand up to what AJ dishes out is the biggest question mark hanging over Ruiz.

Ruiz will have to be aggressive, get past the jab (already a tall order), work Joshua over up close and then fall into a clinch or step to the side and get out at an angle. He needs to make Joshua fight at an uncomfortably high pace and outhustle him. I just can’t see any other way for him to fight Joshua, since he is not the kind that bounces around on his toes or I am missing something?

As we have seen against Whyte, Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, Joshua, although he has heart and good recuperative powers, can be hurt. The problem is, I am not sure if Andy Ruiz can do that. He does not have the explosiveness of Alexander Povetkin, who hurt Joshua with a left hook. He has respectable power but the fact that he couldn’t stop a guy like Kevin Johnson (who, granted, goes the distance with almost everybody except Joshua), get a clean knockout over shopworn Alexander Dimitrenko or had to go the distance with Siarhei Liakhovich earlier in his career who  at that stage had already been blasted by Deontay Wilder inside a round, tells me that he does not quite have the firepower of the very top heavyweight punchers.

How would you rate the power and chin of Ruiz?

Joshua has shown incremental improvement over his last few fights, pacing himself better and punching with more accuracy. He will also be keen to make a statement in his US debut. He may say that he doesn’t feel the pressure of emulating archrival Deontay Wilder’s recent first round knockout of Dominic Breazeale but I think there is definitely an element of that there. He can’t afford to win a boring decision or be troubled by Ruiz if he wants to have the upper hand in the negotiations for their inevitable showdown.

If nothing else, Ruiz has got two things going for him here: He is not far removed from his last fight where he didn’t take any punishment and has mostly stayed in camp all the way through, so he has been active and will be in shape, even if that shape is somewhat round (hey, let’s all remember the likes of Cockell, Galento, Page, Tubbs and Damiani). Secondly, he has no pressure on him and nothing to lose.

I expect Ruiz to come out smoking to make the best of his once in a lifetime opportunity, but it will not be enough. He will get nailed by Joshua, perhaps by an uppercut as he closes the gap. Maybe he will show us that he has the best chin in heavyweight boxing but my gut feel is that he won’t be able to stand up to Joshua’s power.

How long will it take? I will be surprised if he is still standing after five rounds. I have a gut feeling that Anthony Joshua will mirror Deontay Wilder’s recent win by stopping Andy Ruiz in the first round.

What do you think?

Mythical matchups:

Ray Mercer vs Michael Moorer, Mike Tyson, David Tua, Oliver McCall and Frank Bruno (clearly I loved that “Best I fought” feature..)

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

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Ray Mercer. Photo from The Ring archive

Wow, a “Merciless” edition of Mythical Matchups this week, Droeks. You know, Ray’s surly ass was one of my favorite heavyweights of the 1990s. The dude could be out-boxed and out-worked, especially when he overlooked his opponent, which he did more than a few times, but when he was in-shape and focused he was a handful for even great heavyweights. I think he had once of the best chins of his generation during his prime.

Anyway, I’ll go with Mercer over Moorer via chilling KO (and he’d probably be behind on the scorecards at the time of stoppage), Tyson over Mercer by close-maybe-controversial decision (I think Mercer survives even peak Iron Mike’s early storm and brings the heat over the second half of the fight, but ultimately loses to the more popular fighter, who may have scored an early rounds knockdown), Mercer over Tua by close-maybe-controversial decision (both had amazing chins, both could crack, Tua hit harder but Ray had a better jab and combos), Mercer over McCall by close-but-unanimous decision (in another battle of iron chins, Ray’s jab, technique and work-rate wins out), and Mercer over Bruno by late stoppage in a very entertaining scrap.

Did you enjoy Anson Wainwright’s Best I Faced feature on Mercer?

How do I see Joshua-Ruiz playing out? Like you, and everyone else, I favor the unified titleholder from England. However, I don’t envision an opening round knockout. I don’t think Joshua cares that Wilder starched Dom Breazeale in one round (while the former football player lasted seven with him). AJ knows that styles make fights. Wilder is a pure puncher. Joshua is a boxer-puncher. And Ruiz might have better whiskers than Breazeale. So, I don’t expect AJ to be in a rush. I think Ruiz is motivated and in top condition, so I think he’ll go some rounds with the Colossus of London. I see entertaining fight with AJ busting Ruiz’s face up en route to mid-to-late stoppage.

Try as I might, I can only see it ending badly for Andy Ruiz against Anthony Joshua on Saturday night. I don’t know anybody outside of Ruiz’s camp picking the upset.

Not that I’m hating on the guy at all. Predicting that a fighter will lose a fight, even badly, should never be considered “hating,” unless the pick is expressed in an extremely disrespectful manner.

He has a very respectable record and is as good a substitute as one could have hoped for. Agreed.

andy ruiz fri9oc4fi6lq1ffdisutrcoci 2 300x169 - Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Joshua-Ruiz, heavyweight stars and the boxing biz)One could even argue that he has a better track record than Jarrell Miller. I think so. At least Ruiz has faced a top-10 contender in Joseph Parker, who he lost a narrow decision to in December 2016. Ruiz beat a few prospects on his way up the ladder and at least faced one former world titleholder in Siarhei Liakhovich. The only former titleholder on Miller’s resume is the ancient remains of Tomasz Adamek, a former cruiserweight champ who he outweighed by NINETY pounds. Other than Adamek, who’s Miller got on his record? Gerald Washington? Mariusz Wach?

I just can’t see him overcoming his height and reach disadvantages and I think his style is tailor made for Joshua. It all depends on what AJ allows Ruiz to do once the bell rings. If he lets Ruiz come forward and push him back to the ropes, the underdog can cause trouble and some very scary moment for Sir Eddie Hearn and the British fans in attendance at Madison Square Garden. I think AJ should keep the fight in the middle of the ring, beat Ruiz to the jab and circle the shorter challenger, not allowing the Mexico native to pressure him.

Ruiz fights Mexican style. He is quicker than he looks and has a solid jab, which he showed against Parker. Yes, he does. Unfortunately, his feet aren’t as fast as his hands and he doesn’t do a good job of cutting the ring off on an athletically mobile opponent.

I like the solid technique he displays when he throws his straight right, especially to the body, but he takes a few to land a few. Ruiz’s doesn’t have the best head-or-upper-body movement, although I’m sure new trainer Manny Robles has been working on that. He often hides that pie-shaped baby face of his behind a high guard, and I think AJ should aim some choice body shots at that soft midsection if he does that tomorrow night.

So far, he has never been in serious trouble, so he must have a pretty solid chin. I think so.

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Joseph Parker (right) vs. Andy Ruiz. Photo courtesy of Duco Events

After all, Parker couldn’t budge him but on the other hand, Parker hasn’t been able to put away the likes of Carlos Takam and Razvan Cojanu either. Parker didn’t commit to his offense or power, though. He opted for a stick-and-move strategy which made for a less physical fight (maybe a good choice since he was on home soil).

I think it is safe to say that he hasn’t fought anybody with the power of Joshua so whether he will be able to stand up to what AJ dishes out is the biggest question mark hanging over Ruiz. I agree. And we’ll find out soon.

Ruiz will have to be aggressive, get past the jab (already a tall order), work Joshua over up close and then fall into a clinch or step to the side and get out at an angle. That’s pretty much the way Ruiz fights everybody. The best way to deal with AJ’s jab is for him to establish his underrated (but sometimes underused) jab first. Once in close, Ruiz has a quick and sneaky hook-cross combo, which could work against Joshua if he goes for the overhand right (one of his pet punches).

He needs to make Joshua fight at an uncomfortably high pace and outhustle him. I just can’t see any other way for him to fight Joshua, since he is not the kind that bounces around on his toes or I am missing something? Nope, that sounds right to me. Working in his favor is his recent activity (and AJ’s inactivity by comparison), his quick hands and combinations and his body punching ability. Working against Ruiz are his slow feet and lack of upper-body movement. If he could move (his feet and upper body) and apply fast pressure like Joe Frazier, Joshua would have his hands full.

How would you rate the power and chin of Ruiz? I think his power is respectable, probably on par with Miller’s, which is to say that he’s not a world-class puncher. Until proven otherwise, I think he’s got world-class whiskers, but my hunch is that he’s susceptible to facial cuts and swelling.

 

HEAVYWEIGHTS AND TV DEALS

Hello Dougie,

Very excited to see Anthony Joshua finally cross the pond and fight in America. I like Andy Ruiz but let’s be real, other than looking good at the gym, he probably isn’t fit to fight a stud like Joshua. He will probably make it interesting for a few rounds, giving Joshua some angles and using his speed and skills to make Anthony hesitate a little bit, but once the Brit realizes he’s in no danger, he’ll treat American fans to a knockout victory.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people express their opinion on Deontay Wilder’s refusal to face Anthony Joshua after being offered a hefty amount of money. Some people can’t believe that he let go that much money, money he’s never ever made in his life and that a lot of people would take in a heartbeat. Well, if people aren’t paying attention, Luis Ortiz just did the same thing, and guess what these two guys have in common? Showtime, PBC, Al Haymon anybody?

What happens that people don’t understand is that it’s not easy to just go and accept an offer with DAZN or Top Rank or Golden Boy, or whoever is on the other side, if they are saying that they need a 3-fight guarantee with the respective network. That decision is not Wilder’s (or Ruiz’s) to make. I’m sure Wilder wants those 50 million, but Haymon and the PBC have other contractual obligations that they can’t just get away from. Much as DAZN, Showtime invested a lot of money in the PBC and Haymon’s stable over the years to let the biggest fight they can make go to another network. It’s not as easy as that. Networks also have deals with sponsors to which they have to respond. Much like Eddie Hearn said in a recent interview with your colleague Steve Kim and Mario Lopez, you invest money and time in these kids waiting for them to hit it, and when they do, it has to pay off.

For as much as I would love to see this fight, networks need to understand that for these fights to happen they actually need to cooperate. No 3-fight deal, no agreement beyond the fight. Just make the fight, get the money and let the fans know that you want to make the best matchups! That will make people trust you more than if you trying to take everything for yourself (specially taking a fighter that was built by another network, who invested in him, believed in him and also want to get their profits). It’s simple business! Everybody needs to win and make something out of it. Greed won’t take you anywhere. See the case of Mikey Garcia with Top Rank, if I’m not mistaken, in order for them to be able to make the Lomachenko fight (or was it Linares with Golden Boy?) they wanted him to sign for a package deal. Why? Why do this? Let the fights be made, and others will come. Thanks to that no fight was made (neither Linares or Loma, but they ended up fighting each other, duh guess who you have to thank for that? Bob and Oscar working together) with Mikey and the fans are the ones who got hurt.

Ever since I started watching boxing back in the mid to late 80’s the main problem I’ve seen is these cable companies taking over and not letting their fighters go to the other network to fight. I don’t think the promoters are the main problem (they’re part, after all they’re the ones making those TV deals in the first place), but TV executives that only care to have fighters on their network. I know it sounds easier on this side of the table, but somebody has to say something. Yes, not every fight is Floyd vs Manny, but if you could get together for a small (relatively speaking) fight like Lomachenko vs Linares, why not do more of that? (Golden Boy did not disappear because Linares lost, boxing is bigger than a boxer, there’s always someone else or other fights to be made)

Thanks Doug, sorry for the long email, but people don’t seem to understand that it’s not the fighter making the decisions, it’s the TV networks first, the promoters second, managers next and at the very end, the boxer (unless you’re a superstar like Canelo). – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thanks for sharing, Juan.

I think most hardcore fans understand that it’s the networks/broadcast partners that often prevent the really big fights from happening. If they complain about it, that’s their right. They should complain about it. It’s gotten to the point where boxing is more business than sport and no sport can reach its full potential or hope to crossover if the best don’t face the best, especially the highest-profile athletes.

And some fans are merely rooting for their favorite fighter when they point the finger that fighter’s rival when a potential showdown fails to happen, or they’re pushing an agenda, taking the side of a particular promotional company or network (which is f__kin’ weird, but that’s the world we live in).

I hear what you’re saying about the hierarchy of big fights being made (networks at the top, then promoters, then managers, with boxers at the bottom of the totem pole), but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Managers and promoters are supposed to work for the fighter. If a fighter wants a certain fight, they need to help make it happen if the potential opponent is willing to get it on in the ring. That’s what happened with Linares vs. Lomachenko. Linares was feeling his age, knowing that he was leaving his prime, and desperately wanted a big lightweight showdown. He didn’t want to waste any more time fighting the Anthony Crollas, Luke Campbells and Mercito Gestas of the world (no disrespect to those lightweights). He wanted an elite rival. He pushed for Golden Boy to make an offer with Mikey Garcia and the company compiled. Yes, at first they wanted a three-fight deal, which would have done nothing but put money in Mikey’s pocket and potentially advance him to the No. 1 spot in pound for pound rankings, because that multi-bout deal was as follows: a faded Miguel Cotto (who was ready to be pushed off the proverbial cliff and who Mikey called out via social media), a shopworn Lucas Matthysse (who Mikey would have cold-cocked worse that Dejan Zlaticanin) and Linares (the toughest out for him but a winnable fight given Jorge’s shaky whiskers) – not necessarily in that

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Linares nails Lomachenko with a right. Photo / Hoganphotos

order. Mikey thought about it but ultimately passed, saying he wasn’t into multi-fight deals with promoters. So, GBP offered him a one-off with Linares, and guess what, Juan? He passed again. That’s his right as a boxer. Garcia wants to be his own boss. In his mind, that means not having a promoter (even though his adviser is a de-facto promotional entity). Linares also views himself as the boss. He refused to fight any more fringe contenders and once it was clear that Mikey wasn’t interested, he set his sights on Lomachenko and was willing to fight off of the network platform (HBO) that was partnered with his promotional company. He made sure GBP worked it out with Top Rank and fans were treated to a special night at Madison Square Garden last May.

 That’s the way it should be, and the way it’s been done by REAL fighters who truly want to pursue greatness. Even when he was pushing 50, Bernard Hopkins wanted to be the undisputed champ. At age 48 he was the oldest boxer in the history of multiple world titles to partially unify belts when he combined the IBF and WBA straps by outpointing Beibut Shumenov in April 2014. This was done at a time when Richard Schaefer and Al Hamon were still integral parts of Golden Boy Promotions, which was thus firmly aligned with Showtime. Hopkins wanted the other two belts (WBC and WBO). When negotiations with Adonis Stevenson, who held the WBC (and had left HBO for Showtime as a Haymon advisee), went nowhere, B-Hop switched his attention to Sergey Kovalev, the WBO beltholder who fought on HBO. Hopkins didn’t care that Golden Boy had all its fighters on Showtime. His goals superseded all that bulls__t. Before Canelo singed his second multi-fight deal with HBO, Hopkins agreed to face Kovalev on HBO in November 2014.

FOFwilderjoshua title 300x145 - Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Joshua-Ruiz, heavyweight stars and the boxing biz)Now, Wilder is still young (in comparison to Hopkins), so maybe he feels time is on his side and he’s confident that his team of Haymon and Shelly Finkel will eventually work something out with Team AJ (promoter Eddie Hearn and DAZN boss John Skipper) that both sides can live with and fans worldwide will finally get the undisputed heavyweight championship showdown they’ve craved for more than a year. But you and I both know there’s no guarantee that will happen. And while I respect Wilder’s decision to stay loyal to his side of the street and to have faith in his career backers, the fighters that I revere are the ones who go for glory even though it goes against certain corporate agendas – prime example, Pernell Whitaker jeopardizing his very comfortable and lucrative exclusive contract with HBO in order to face Julio Cesar Chavez on Showtime’s pay-per-view arm, SET. That superfight happened because Whitaker ordered his promoter, Main Events, to make it happen NO MATTER WHAT. That meant Main Events had to take a backseat to Don King during the promotion. Do you think Dan and Lou Duva wanted to do that? Financially speaking it wasn’t in their interest, it probably bruised the f__k out of their egos, and it was a huge risk in terms of protecting their fighter because they knew King would screw them with the officials (which he did). But at the end of the day they also knew they were promoting a great boxer and they had as much faith in Sweet Pea as he had in them.

I have to wonder if that’s the case with Wilder and Joshua and their respective teams.

Very excited to see Anthony Joshua finally cross the pond and fight in America. Me too. I’m interested in what kind of turnout we’ll get at MSG and also hyped for the undercard, which Ring super middleweight champ Callum Smith’s first title defense (vs. Hassan Ndam), the Katie Taylor-Delfine Persoon showdown for the undisputed women’s lightweight championship, and exciting British prospects Joshua Buatsi and Josh Kelly in with solid opposition.

I like Andy Ruiz but let’s be real, other than looking good at the gym, he probably isn’t fit to fight a stud like Joshua. He’s as fit as Jarrell Miller was (and without all the PEDs).

He will probably make it interesting for a few rounds, giving Joshua some angles and using his speed and skills to make Anthony hesitate a little bit, but once the Brit realizes he’s in no danger, he’ll treat American fans to a knockout victory. Sounds like an entertaining main event.

 

FRIENDLY FACES ON TV

Dear Doug,

The best to you and yours as always. I am on Monday just catching up with the Herring-Ito undercard on ESPN+ and what a pleasure it is to see Sean O’Grady’s smiling face again. Took me right back to my many happy Tuesday nights on USA, and to one of my favorite fights ever, the Thunder-Grimsley 11 second knockout.

For those of us who enjoy seeing your smiling face on the new Thursday Night Fights series, DirecTV subscribers like me can see the broadcasts live on channel 659. I like you better on my 52″ screen than on my computer. Best. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock, NY

Thanks for the very kind words, Leslie, and for placing me in such excellent company. I missed O’Grady’s fighting days but he’s one of my all-time favorite retired-boxer commentators. His voice, personality and insight on the USA network’s Tuesday Night Fights was a big part of why that boxing series is so special to boxing fans (over a certain age).

I was also surprised to hear his voice and excellent analysis on the Ito-Herring undercard bouts, and I hope that Top Rank/ESPN continue to use him on future broadcasts.

Thanks for sharing that DirectTV info on GBP’s new Thursday Night Fights series. The first three shows have featured entertaining and competitive scraps in the co-featured bouts (as well as some big upsets), so I want fans to know where they can view them on the big screen. In my region of the country, Southern California, Spectrum Sports Net broadcasts the series live and then relays it numerous times, which is great. I hope that’s the case with the other regional cable sports channels, such as the Madison Square Garden network, which signed on with the most recent show (headlined by the heated and dramatic Romero Duno-Juan Antonio Rodriguez).

 

 

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

 

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