Joshua Favored in Early Odds For Rematch vs New Champ Ruiz
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After being on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in boxing history on Saturday night in New York, Anthony Joshua intends to immediately secure a rematch with unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz.
Joshua’s promoter, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, revealed via Twitter on Tuesday that Joshua’s team had “triggered the contracted rematch clause” and that the bout would take place in at the end of the year “at a venue to be confirmed shortly.”
Despite being knocked down four times in the seventh-round stoppage loss over the weekend, Joshua is again favored by boxing’s best bookmakers to defeat Ruiz in the proposed rematch.
According to New Jersey-based bookmaker 888Sport, Joshua is -335 to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles he lost to Ruiz. The affable American who famously loves Snickers candy bars will return as the +250 underdog for boxing betting fans.
If @SNICKERS doesn’t give @Andy_destroyer1 the heavyweight champion of the world a commercial deal after his endorsement I will NEVER eat a snickers again. That’s at least 3% of ur profits ? Don’t risk it!!— Gabriel Iglesias (@fluffyguy) June 2, 2019
One of Boxing’s Biggest Upsets Ever
Joshua appeared to be on his way to defeating Ruiz over the weekend, to the point that bookmakers who had made the 29-year-old such a heavy favorite were probably feeling really good about themselves.
But that only lasted about two rounds.
A quick Joshua left hook sent Ruiz down to the canvas for the first time in his career during the first minute of the third round. At that point, the fight seemed just about over. But Ruiz roared back with fast and heavy combinations that sent Joshua reeling backward. Ruiz, 29, from Imperial, California, knocked Joshua down twice in that round and the popular UK superstar never seemed to fully recover.
By Round 7, Ruiz had Joshua hurt enough that he could use clever footwork and smart aggression to put Joshua right where he wanted him. Ruiz cut the distance, let his hands go with vicious intent and sent Joshua down twice again to force the stoppage.
The win made Ruiz an instant star and also landed him on the list of biggest heavyweight championship underdog winners ever.
Ruiz’s Shocking WIn Changed Heavyweight Landscape
Ruiz now holds three of the four major world title belts – the WBA, IBF and WBO titles – at heavyweight. While it’s not clear how contractually obligated he is to fight Joshua in an immediate rematch, it is a common practice for those representing huge favorites like Joshua, who carry with them the bulk of the negotiating power, to include clauses that force underdogs into immediate return fights should the unthinkable occur.
It’s incredibly important for Joshua to get the rematch with Ruiz as soon as possible. Joshua, his promoter and even global streaming service DAZN all desperately need to secure the fight. Whether it can be done through previously agreed upon contractual obligations, life-changing sums of money or both, the risk of losing claim to three heavyweight titles is too great to be left to chance.
After all, Ruiz is managed by Al Haymon, the powerful boxing figure behind Premier Boxing Champions. Haymon also represents WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder, and he has built a solid reputation among those he represents in terms of offering TV fights and paydays to the point that he could probably convince Ruiz to bring the belts back to his stable to fight Wilder for undisputed status instead.
That would wreck Joshua’s, Hearn’s and DAZN’s plans for the foreseeable future.
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Joshua-Wilder Superfight Dead For Now
Whatever kind of money could have been made by pitting Joshua against Wilder in a heavyweight superfight is essentially gone at the moment. Even if Joshua secures an immediate rematch against Ruiz and wins the belts back, what was once considered a sure-fire financial windfall for both Joshua and Wilder has now lost most of its luster.
That’s the kind of thing that happens when big fights are pushed down the line too far. It’s all too common these days for big fights in boxing to be lost because one or both sides don’t really intend on making them happen, and while the fight could still be an important piece of the heavyweight puzzle, Joshua’s loss means it won’t feature two undefeated champions in their primes.
Still, Ruiz’s huge win could also be seen as a net positive for the sport. Instead of the division solely hinging on two fighters who didn’t really seem to want a fight against each other, the storylines are now open for more figures to get the spotlight in what has proven to be an incredibly deep and talented class of heavyweight stars.