Anthony Joshua’s trainer admits he knew heavyweight was concussed in Andy Ruiz Jr. fight

Anthony Joshua’s trainer, Rob McCracken, says he knew the former heavyweight champion was concussed during his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June.

“I know him better than all these experts who virtually don’t know him or have met him once or twice so I knew he was concussed and I’m trying to get him through a few more rounds, one round at a time, and see where he’s at,” McCracken told the BBC. “‘Can he recover? Can he get back into this?’

MORE: Watch Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 plus more than 100 fight nights a year on DAZN​

“But he was glazy-eyed from when he got caught with that initial shot in Round 3 and he carried that with him up until the end. It’s a nightmare situation, pro boxing is deadly and you’re in the corner with a heavyweight not responding as he should.”

After being knocked down in the third round, Joshua could be heard on the DAZN broadcast saying, “What round is it?” and “Why am I feeling like this?”

Joshua was ultimately stopped by Ruiz in the seventh round via TKO, losing the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO belts in the process.

Ruiz was an 11-1 underdog in the fight and became the first Mexican heavyweight champion in what has come to be known as one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

To add to an already tough situation, Joshua was also reportedly knocked out leading up to the fight with Ruiz, according to multiple reports.

He very well could have already been dealing with concussion-like symptoms even before he stepped in the ring with Ruiz which would further call into question everything surrounding this fight.

It is unclear what kind of ramifications this could have for McCracken, if any.

Joshua is set to face Ruiz in a rematch Dec. 7 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Story by Thomas Lott

 

 

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Ben Davison breaks down Fury-Wallin, preparing for Wilder, Ruiz-Joshua rematch

The usual pre-fight bluster from training camps features the same throwaway lines.

They’ve never felt better. Camp has gone great.

Tyson Fury’s trainer Ben Davison, however, is bucking the trend.

He’s unafraid of going up against conventional wisdom and one-liners.

“No, I wouldn’t say it was the best camp ever,” he said, a couple of days before his charged prepared to face Otto Wallin. “I’d say the last [camp] was the best ever but he has hit some personal bests in some areas as well, I’ll say that, in terms of his cardiovascular output and times spent in his maximum heartrate zone.”

Wallin is expected to have a walk-on part, but Davison believes the unbeaten Swedish heavyweight contender might give his man something to think about.

Otto Wallin. Photo by Mikey Williams / TOP RANK

“He’s a fundamentally sound boxer,” conceded the trainer. “He’s shown his pedigree as he beat Frazer Clarke who’s now a GB Olympic boxer, he’s a 6-foot-6 southpaw and yes, people will say he’s a southpaw [unlike Deontay Wilder], and it’s not great preparation for Wilder but actually it is. The line of your jab, you have to think about the line of your jab because you can very easily get your jab taken away if you don’t know what you’re doing. So you’re going to have to think and I think in the first few rounds he’s going to have to think, he’s going to have to be sharp and set things up, take a couple of rounds to find his distance, find what works and find what doesn’t work before the fight actually gets going and the juices start flowing. But it’s going to make him think and that’s what you want, you want that stuff in preparation for Deontay Wilder. He could have boxed Jarrell Miller, but has he got to think to box Jarrell Miller? He could do that off instinct, he knows what’s coming. It’s a Derek Chisora situation.”

Some anticipate a quick night, and while Davison won’t rule it out, he is hoping his man will get some quality ring-time leading into bigger nights.

“In an ideal world, a good performance with some rounds would be nice,” Ben added. “But in the heavyweight division if there’s a situation and an opportunity to finish the fight you’ve got to take it because they can finish you very quickly.”

Fury has been careful this week not to call anyone out. He said he is living day by day and fight by fight. There are no grand plans, and he harbours no clear-cut boxing ambition.

“What he means is his ambition isn’t ‘I want to chase this title or that title’ or I want to earn this amount of money,” Davison explained. “His ambition is bred in him to win a fight by any means necessary. And that’s the biggest difference. His physical attributes, his biggest attribute is this [pointing to his heart] and these [pointing to his testicles].”

The focus, though, is on Wallin and Davison makes that clear. Even in a long camp in America Ben admitted that conversation as not gone too far ahead from September 14.

“We sometimes talk about what we will do after boxing, we always have conversations like that,” Ben went on. “But not when we’re in training camp, we want to be keeping it light and positive.”

As Fury’s comeback keeps ratcheting up, he wants him to work on more strength and less hypertrophy training and there are continual improvements to make.

And that will lead to the Wilder rematch, in February next year.

“It’s done,” Davison said. “It’s signed and sealed and that’s the difference [with other heavyweights]. I see people moaning that Tyson’s getting paid this much and that much to fight Schwarz or Wallin, well do you not think that him and Wilder are getting a shit-load of money because they both fought each other and they’ve both taken a chance by signing to fight one another again. I’ve seen Joshua say, ‘I want to fight opponents like that.’ Well, fight the best and you might get a little leeway here and there. He didn’t fight Deontay Wilder.”

Joshua has his own business at hand first when he meets heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia on December 7. While Fury seems to have plenty of stamina, some have questioned Joshua’s ability to go 12 hard rounds.

“It’s a mixture of a lot of things,” Davison said. “Part of it is being relaxed, ring IQ and Joshua is constantly putting maximum effort in, every shot. Boom, boom, boom. If you stand in front of a punchbag for a minute and let loose you’re going to know about it. And every time he’s exerting, he’s exerting maximum effort into his punches. The jab is always boom, boom. You don’t ever see him go touch, touch, touch, boom and then sit down on the shot. There’s not enough variation in his work. Andy Ruiz is relaxed, he’s fast, sharp, he knows how to ride through a storm, controlled, change tempo in a fight without actually having to exchange punches. Tyson knows how to control distance and tempo without actually exchanging.

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

“I don’t know [who wins on December 7]. Joshua needs to learn how to control the distance and tempo in a fight because when he exchanges he’s going to take one back and defensively he’s not got fantastic eyes. When he’s got shots coming at him, he can lose himself a little bit. I don’t think he’s fantastic under fire so he needs to learn how to keep Ruiz at bay without exchanging, [and you do that with] feints, feinting the jab, varying it, going to the body without dropping too low to get in, using his front arm to control the distance, using his feet… Hand on heart I want to see Joshua win for Robert McCracken because he’s a top trainer and he’s had a lot of undeserved stick and I do want to see the success for Rob more than anything.”

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For Anthony Joshua, first loss lifts a weight physically and mentally

NEW YORK — After a brief delay due to an ESPN appearance, Andy Ruiz Jr., perhaps the most unlikely heavyweight champion since James Braddock, wore a festive sombrero as he made his way towards the stage for Thursday’s press conference. About twenty feet above him, Anthony Joshua, the slimmed down challenger seeking revenge, prowled the catwalk like the wrestler Sting in the late 90s, breaking character to laugh as former champion Shannon Briggs led his “Let’s Go Champ!” chorus for no one in particular.

A reporter who wandered into Capitale with little familiarity with the wacky world of pro boxing might feel a bit behind the eight ball. 

Joshua looked all business, much more so than he did last time he met face to face with Ruiz in New York, when he shadowboxed aimlessly on stage and, more inexplicably, handed the belts over to Ruiz to pose for photos. Ruiz wound up taking the belts home with him a few days later when he handed Joshua the first defeat of his pro career by seventh round knockout.

“They’re heavy as well, from my sixteenth fight I’ve been carrying them belts,” joked Joshua (22-1, 21 knockouts) in a private media session before the press conference, which was the second stop on a three city tour which began the day before in Saudi Arabia – which will host the fight December 7 live on DAZN – and will move on to London by Friday.

Would he do it again, breaking tradition by letting his opponent hold that which he hadn’t yet earned, if he could do it over? Joshua insists he would, saying that he won’t be “two-faced” and allow a defeat to change his character. Minutes later, he included that act among the symptoms of him having the wrong attitude heading into a fight against a late-replacement with nothing to lose who wasn’t there to do the honors for the visiting Briton champ in his American debut.

“You could kind of see from the swagger in the ring, hands down, moving around,” Joshua said, with trainer Robert McCracken and promoter Eddie Hearn flanking him. Joshua had Ruiz down from an uppercut-left hook combination in the third the last time they met and admits he thought the fight was over. As he rushed in to finish the Mexican American brawler, he walked into a shot high on the head that sent him on his own visit to the canvas.

“‘We’re gonna get it back,’” said Joshua of his thought process in that moment. “But it was a slippery slope from there.” The slope became an ice rink in slippers as he went down three more times before the fight was stopped. 

“The killer instinct hasn’t left yet, it worked the first time to a certain degree, like 25 percent of the way, I’m gonna build on that…until I know there’s no coming back,” said Joshua.

“See that 1-2 I landed?,” he continued, referring to the shot he landed after dropping Ruiz. “If I’d have landed another three of those from a distance it would have been better than trying to land an uppercut-left hook again in close quarters.”

Now, instead of being bulked up, Joshua says he wants to focus on being quicker. He says he doesn’t look at his weight, which tends to be in the 240s, and relies on how he feels. He says he was in the ring two weeks ago to spar ten rounds with another heavyweight and liked how he felt.

(Read: Eddie Hearn on Saudi deal controversy: ‘If I don’t do it, someone else will’)

Ruiz (33-1, 22 knockouts) said for his part that he also wanted to be lighter for the rematch, preferring to come in at 255 pounds instead of the 268 he was for the first fight.

More than just physically, Joshua has the mental burden lifted off his back of the constant talks about a showdown with WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder, which had never materialized despite being the most talked about fight since Mayweather-Pacquiao. 

“I’m not hearing about other fights right now. I’m hearing about Ruiz and that’s what’s important,” said Joshua.

“You asked me about who I’m fighting next, I’ll fight who I want. Don’t tell me about no Wilder or (Tyson) Fury. Take it how you want but that’s how I see about the heavyweight division.”

Great fighters in the past have lost, Joshua reminds, but in the era of Floyd Mayweather, the ‘0’ has more importance than it ever had before. His challenge now is to find the positive in the negative of that experience at Madison Square Garden several months back.

“Even though I don’t talk about losing as if it’s a good thing, I understand now it can happen. It’s not about staying down, it’s about pulling yourself back up when the whole world is against you and no one believes in you no more,” said Joshua, echoing the motivational recordings he says he listens to in the morning.

“Pull yourself up and climb back to the top no matter how long it takes.”

This time, it was Ruiz who walked in with the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts, and they never left his side, before or after.

“I know AJ, he wants his belts back…my job is for him not to win, not to get these belts,” said Ruiz, of Imperial, Calif.

As the two fighters stood face to face, Joshua projected the image of a man singularly focused on proving that was accepted as fact before their first fight would be proven true in their second go-around. The stare down lasted for about a minute, as Briggs, at the behest of no one, cut through the awkwardness with chants of “Lets go champ!” and “You ain’t scared!” Finally, Ruiz looked away and cracked up, saying “You’re making me laugh, man.”

Joshua, as much as he probably wanted to laugh, never creased his glare.

The post For Anthony Joshua, first loss lifts a weight physically and mentally appeared first on The Ring.

Press Release: Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua 2 Saudi Arabia press conference quotes

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the GSA:

“I want to start with welcoming everyone to Saudi Arabia, especially to Diriyah. I Would like to welcome the fighters here and I wish them luck. Firstly, boxing is one of our growing sports in the Kingdom, we have had events in the past and international events which started with Formula E, WWE, the Italian Super-Cup final and other events in the Kingdom. They all fall under the 2030 vision guided by the custodian of the two holy mosques, his majesty King Salman and the Crown Prince Hamed Salman. The direction of Saudi Arabia is to enhance sport because sport is good for everyone. We are not just focusing on one sport we are focusing on many sports and maybe that Is reflected on the number of events that we have hosted.

“We are very lucky that we have managed to host this fight in Saudi and in Diriyah, which is a very special place for all of us. We also want to reflect to the world what Saudi Arabia is and hopefully everyone can come and enjoy this fight in one of our special places in the Kingdom. I think everyone is already excited outside and inside the Kingdom. We are really looking forward to welcoming everyone, anyone who wants to come to Saudi and watch this fight is more than welcome to come. Sports reaches everyone, and I think it is fundamental in the ‘2030 Vision’ and one of the key visions in the 2030 vision is to promote and grow sports within the Kingdom. We are not just hosting fights, we are increasing the interest in the Kingdom. We have seen the interest in sports have grown drastically in the last few years and we want to give this opportunity to Saudi citizens who can come and watch this fight.

“This is the start of something exciting and everybody has been excited in the Kingdom since this fight was first announced. Everybody is looking forward to getting tickets and I think it will boost the interest in boxing in general. Lots of gyms and venues are opening up. Boxing is an old sport but is relatively new for Saudi Arabia. That is something that we would like to enhance from these events, to open up the interest in boxing in the Kingdom but also to have a long lasting plan to really encourage the youth in getting into boxing.

“I think that everyone who is coming to watch this fight is going to experience something that they haven’t experienced anywhere else in the world, that is our aim. In October we will announce all the details and how people can purchase tickets. We will have an easy system that anyone can apply to and anyone can apply for a VISA and come to Saudi and watch this fight. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone.”

Eddie Hearn, Managing Director, Matchroom Boxing:

“Thanks Ravi and thank you to the whole panel and of course everybody who made this event possible. The GSA, Prince Abdulaziz thank you, Skills Challenge Entertainment, Omar and the team and an huge thank you to Prince Khalid who plagued me and didn’t let this go to bring this fight here, we were so close and looking at almost a dozen other venues that were knocking at our door for this World Heavyweight Championship, the biggest fight in boxing today. Prince Khalid saw the vision, the love and passion for the sport and would not stop calling me. He would not stop trying to bring this event to Saudi Arabia.

“I have to tell you, sitting here now and having just watched that incredible show and having been a fight fan for 30 years, I felt a bit emotional. This is such a monumental occasion for our sport which is sometimes very narrow minded – there’s Las Vegas, there’s New York, there’s London – no. There is a whole world out there and now there is Saudi Arabia for boxing. This is such a monumental opportunity for our sport and you’re not just bringing a fight to the Kingdom, you are bringing the biggest fight in world boxing, the biggest prize in boxing – the World Heavyweight Championship.

“This is not a one off fight, this is a rematch for one of the fights of the year. Back on June 1 at the sold out Madison Square Garden we witnessed one of the greatest Heavyweight upsets of all time. Andy Ruiz may not feel it was an upset but it did go down in history that way, it was an incredible fight with both men on the canvas as Andy Ruiz beat Anthony Joshua to become the Unified World Heavyweight Champion.

“On December 7 in Diriyah we do it all again, for your entertainment in a purpose built, open air arena with 16,000 people. We love what you are doing here for sport and we love Formula E, we love the European Tour and I think that WWE is great, but there is nothing like the sport of boxing. You will witness an event that will go down in history – some people will be looking from the outside in and say this is a strange destination but they also said that with ‘The Rumble in The Jungle’ and ‘The Thriller in Manilla’, and this as an event will go down in history just like those iconic moments in our sport.

“I want to thank everybody for bringing this fight here and I want to thank the fighters – for those who know or those who are new to the sport of boxing know that these guys who are the gladiators. They are the guys who get in the ring and fight for these belts, for their legacy and for your entertainment. These are the guys that deserve so much respect. This is not just about bringing a major fight to Saudi Arabia, this is about the potential to grow the sport of boxing here. One of the reasons that we’re even here is because of Prince Khalid’s vision to grow the sport here. We’re already in the talks about academy’s and about grass-roots boxing, this is how you grow the sport of boxing. Trust me, the people of Saudi Arabia once they see this event and touch and taste the sport of boxing, they will be addicted. This will be a monumental occasion for this sport. The world will stand still to witness history in Saudi Arabia. Ticket details will be released in due course.”

Andy Ruiz Sr:

“First of all I want to thank all the people from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I felt so proud of my son when he won the fight – it was a dream that we had when he was six years old. I believe that dreams come true, I have been working for this and thinking who was going to be champion of the world. I had a dream I was going to have my Mexican Rocky and then it came true so I feel so happy and thankful to Eddie Hearn for this opportunity.”

Robert McCracken MBE, trainer of Anthony Joshua:

“This is Heavyweight boxing, we’ve seen it time and time again. Andy is a very good fighter and is the World Heavyweight Champion and Anthony is now challenging – it’s turned completely on its head. AJ is driven and determined to get those titles back so it’s going to be exciting and interesting to see. It is going to be challenging for both fighters but I think it will be a challenge they will look forward to, certainly Anthony is looking forward to it, he’s excited already. It’s December so it will be a little bit cooler which should suit both fighters and it will certainly suit Anthony and he will be prepared. He will be in tip-top shape and he knows that Ruiz is a tremendous champion, but he is a tremendous challenger and he’s aiming to win those belts back on December 7.”

Manny Robles, trainer of Andy Ruiz Jr:

“First of all thank you to everyone, the media and the country of Saudi Arabia for having us here in the city of Diriyah. This is an incredible country with very nice people and thank you for the warm welcome. It’s time to turn the page, dreams do come true but now it is a reality and it’s time to go to work. I can promise everybody and the fans here and across the world that Andy will be ready – he will be ready for the challenge. We respect Anthony Joshua and his team, he is a great fighter and we know that he is going to bring it, so that is the reason why we need to be at our best come December 7. It’s part two, it’s a continuation of part one. Both fighters know each other and know what to expect from one another so there will be changes. We will have more time to prepare this time around and we have begun our preparation – there will be some changes and you can expect a better, faster, leaner and stronger Andy Ruiz than we saw the first time around.”

Anthony Joshua OBE:

“Thank you all for your hospitality, to the people and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I never thought that I would be fighting outside of London or America so it is a blessing and I am humbled to be here. With the fight, I feel that I was up against a good challenger at the time and I was only champion until June 1, as Andy is champion now, that will last until December 7 when he has to put his titles in the air and two warriors will go to war and the best man will walk out victorious. I am really looking forward to the challenge and I am glad the people here are supporting boxing. Some may support me, others may support Andy, but at the end of the day we are going to have a really good night of boxing and that is what we are all here for.

“My parents and their heritage is from Nigeria and I was born in England. I started boxing when I moved to London and my cousin was training. I was only doing it as a mindset thing. I needed to change my mindset when I was younger, I was getting in some sorts of trouble and I wasn’t really focused on my education as such. Being around the older generation and the wise generation they gave me advice and a lot of game that I could use on my day to day life and I started thinking as an individual. In three years from being a novice in the gym I was competing at the Olympics and by that point I had been to so many countries around the world representing Great Britain.

“I turned professional and based myself in England where I won the gold medal and I have been competing out of Great Britain ever since until I went to America when I lost my titles. I should say ‘the’ titles because I believe that being a champion is more than just having belts which I have always said, being a champion has responsibilities and it’s about having a championship mindset. The belts will go in the air and we will fight for them again and this time around it’s not London, it’s not America, it is Saudi Arabia.”

Andy Ruiz Jr:

“I’m really happy to be here and I thank everybody. On June 1 I made my dreams come true with a lot of sacrifice, blood and tears. I just believed in myself and I think I am here for a purpose and I just want to tell everybody that if they have a dream they’ve got to follow through with it and everything is possible.

On December 7 I know that Anthony Joshua is going to come hard, he’s going to come strong and will be preparing really well but so am I. I’m really hungery, a lot of people have been saying that I’m not training or taking it seriously but come on I have all these belts and there is responsibilities to this. I am going to try my best and I’m going to keep these belts and take them back to Mexico. On December 7 I am going to make history again and win here in the same fashion and the same way that I won on June 1 and I am going to prove everybody wrong.

“The hunger still remains, I don’t want 15 minutes of fame I want this to last for a generation. I want to be a champion for many years and I have a good fighter next to me who is going to try and take these belts but god is with me and we’re going to be training really hard for December 7.

“I expect a tougher test this time round, he is more hungry and wants his belts back but that is what is motivating me and making me more hungry. I want to train harder because I know he is, I only had a month, month and a half, to train for the first fight but this time we have a whole camp so it benefits me. It is going to be an exciting fight, a hell of a fight – two big Heavyweights punching each other in the face – tune in December 7, it’s going to be a hell of a fight.”

 

 

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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz gripe, Vergil Ortiz and The Ring archive)

ANTHONY JOSHUA’S HEAD, THE FOUR KINGS

Dougie,

Anthony Joshua has always been good at saying the ‘right stuff’ in interviews in regards to sounding respectful (by and large), sponsor-pleasing, and generally positive in a way that convinces you his head is in the right place and there’s a training and management plan that’s being well met. Even before his loss though it started to seem a bit contrived and somehow didn’t quite ring true. Like going through the motions. Fine he gets asked the same questions a lot and you can’t be original and dynamic each time, but still. Since the loss, I hate to say but he’s looked to me quite mentally fragile and the positive stuff he’s coming out with now seems even more contrived, and also mixed with a shadow of self doubt.

I can’t help but feel he’s in for another drubbing, in a way that his career could truly go off the rails. Would LOVE to be wrong on this though and I hope he can turn it around.

What do you reckon – have you picked up on it the same way at all?

Watching a documentary the other day on the Four Kings – just amazing – and wondered re MMs against some of my personal favourites (apols if you’ve already done these):

  • Hearns/Calzaghe at SMW
  • Leonard/Pacman at Welter
  • Hagler/Benn at middleweight
  • Duran/Lomachenko at lightweight

All the best. – Rob, UK

Hearns by close, maybe majority or split decision (super middleweight wasn’t one of his better divisions and Calzaghe’s style and athleticism would have troubled him but my hunch is that the Hitman’s elite jab wouldn’t been the difference in a high-speed chess match).

Leonard by mid-to-late stoppage (we’d get fireworks early, but Sugar Ray was too big, too fast, too smart and equally courageous – he’d clip the Filipino Icon at some point and if it wasn’t a one-hitter-quitter… well, nobody in my lifetime was a better finisher than Leonard).

Hagler by mid-to-late stoppage (Benn lived up to his Dark Destroyer moniker, but The Marvelous One had the rare chin that could stand up to Benn’s best bombs, and the British star was lacking a bit in technique and stamina during his middleweight days, while Hagler was an indefatigable technician).

Duran by late stoppage (Loma would be difficult and competitive for most of the fight, but Hands of Stone would make the Ukrainian ring wizard miss a lot more than he’s used to and he’d take a gradual beating that would take its toll by the championship rounds).

Even before his loss though it started to seem a bit contrived and somehow didn’t quite ring true. Like going through the motions. Fine he gets asked the same questions a lot and you can’t be original and dynamic each time, but still. I don’t know why that would be a surprise to you. Joshua had the eyes and hopes of an entire nation on him during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he was a household name before his pro debut, and The Ring’s 2014 Prospect of Year advanced from “up and comer” to contender to titleholder to star to mega-attraction in the span of two-and-half years. There’s a lot of pressure, expectations and obligations that come with the rare meteoric rise in stature, fame and wealth like that AJ experienced. Most of us would bug the f__k out from it.

Since the loss, I hate to say but he’s looked to me quite mentally fragile and the positive stuff he’s coming out with now seems even more contrived, and also mixed with a shadow of self doubt. Well, of course he’s dealing with self doubt! He got beatdown and bewildered by a late-sub and 12-to-1 underdog. Every fighter in the hall of fame that suffered a devastating loss at the peak of his career had to grapple with self doubt before he stepped back into the ring, especially if he was going into an immediate rematch with the man who kicked his ass.

 

OLD RING MAGAZINES

After looking at Cynthia Conte’s tweet with press photos of the aborted 91 Holyfield Tyson fight I wish you guys could archive The Ring library. Knowing that you’re a comic book guy, something similar to Marvel Unlimited digital comics app. I can catch up on Spider-Man comics from the 70’s that I don’t have. – Kinonomics

That’s a capital idea and one that is currently in the works. It’s a monumental undertaking given that the magazine dates back to the early 1920s, but once the digitization process is complete fans like you will have nearly 100 years of boxing history available at their fingertips.

 

CLASSIC DON KING CARDS

Hi Doug,

Happy Thursday. I was not really a hard-core boxing fan until late 2000 when I watched Hopkins/Echols 2.

That means that I missed the ‘90s Don King cards. I was looking at some of those events and, honestly, I would pay $250 for a PPV like those were they to occur today. Those events had at times 5-7 main-event-quality fights on a single night.

Question is – do you think that could happen again? Thank you. – Bill from Toronto

Middleweight KO artists Julian Jackson (left) and Gerald McClellan were featured on several Don King undercards before their shootout.

I think some promotional companies are trying to emulate King’s pay-per-view glory years – Matchroom USA and Golden Boy come to mind – but while they’ve had some stacked cards this year (and in previous years) they just don’t have enough world-class-to-elite-talent (supporting two legit superstar headliners in Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez) as King did in the 1990s. Felix Trinidad, Terry Norris, Azumah Nelson, Michael Nunn, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Simon Brown, Ricardo Lopez, Frankie Randall, Tim Austin, John David Jackson, Tony Tucker, Oliver McCall, Maurice Blocker and Oba Carr, among many other standouts, were part of the “King-dom” during that decade.

These days, King’s fellow Cleveland native Al Haymon, the brains behind the Premier Boxing Champions organizations/TV series, is the only power broker with a talent roster that comes close to DK’s 1990s stable. However, it doesn’t seem like the PBC is into stacking quality bouts on its cards (even when they are PPV events).

So, I guess my answer to your question is NO, at least for the time being.

 

VERGIL ORTIZ, EX-AMATEUR STARS GETTING BEAT IN THE PROS

Hey Doug, just wanted to write you about two of last week’s fights.

1) I saw Robeisy Ramirez fight live on TV twice during the Rio Olympics and I remember the first time watching him (I think it was the semi final) thinking “this guy is going to win the Val Barker trophy.” He just really stood out to me as a mega talent. Well he went on to beat Shakur Stevenson for another gold medal but I don’t think he won the Val Barker. Anyways, I wasn’t even aware he had defected and turned pro but when I saw the headline that he lost his pro debut I went back and watched the fight. This was really a shocking upset and I find it odd that it didn’t get more mainstream boxing attention; this was real Rocky type stuff, the highly decorated and arrogant fighter underestimating the blue collar unheralded scrapper. Adan Gonzalez and his friends and family should be very proud. It was a good little fight and Adan won it fair and square. He capitalized on a defensive mistake made by Ramirez and didn’t let him off the hook. All four rounds were close (though the knockdown is an automatic 10-8 of course) so I could see how one judge could just edge it for Ramirez, but personally I think Adan deserved at least one of those last three rounds (and thus won the fight.) He didn’t have the prettiest “form” but I thought he was highly effective and looked to be much better than his record indicated. He was constantly moving, pivoting, throwing punches in bunches, and answering back.

As for Ramirez, he had a couple flashes of brilliance with some lightning quick slip ‘n’ counters, but he also looked really incomplete and didn’t show any sign of urgency after getting downed in the first round of a close four round fight. The way he got hit while pulling back in a straight line with his hands down was a little embarrassing (as Tim Bradley kept pointing out.) It also seemed weird that he couldn’t really hurt Adan, who looked a lot smaller than Ramirez.

I’ve heard people compare this fight to Salido beating Loma, but I think that comparison is totally superficial. All due respect to Adan but he ain’t no Salido and never will be. I understand the comparison is just to highlight how an amateur star with seemingly more natural talent can still get worked over by a hardened veteran who’s picked up an array of tricks as he’s come up through the pro ranks, but this was obviously not the case with Adan. He had only 9 pro fights and was a club fighter going up against a double Olympic gold medalist with an alleged 400 plus amateur fights.

A couple of questions for you Doug: is this the upset of the year? Can you think of a bigger upset between an ex amateur star turned pro vs an unheralded blue caller pro? What do you think are the hardest parts of transitioning to the pro game for an elite amateur boxer aside from the extra rounds and lighter gloves?

2) Vergil Ortiz continues to exceed expectations as his competition steps up. Finishing Orozco and Herrera in back to back fights at his age is seriously impressive. He also seems to be a really mature and grounded guy, which is what you look for in a young prospect. This guy seems destined for multiple world titles. How long do you think before his first title shot and who would you like to see him matched up with next? Do you think he and Teofimo Lopez are destined for a clash somewhere down the road? – Jack E.

Fifteen-to-20 years ago I’d have told you that practically guaranteed that two rising young stars like Ortiz and Lopez would meet at least once while they were still in their athletic primes, but things done changed. Network/platform affiliations, promotional beefs and greediness generally keeps top talent apart these days and many fighters seem OK with the situation.

However, I will add that both Ortiz and Lopez seem like throw-back fighters in their willingness to challenge themselves. They are as competitive as they are precocious, and they don’t seem as caught up with the business side of the sport as other standouts. So maybe we’ll get lucky and see them share the ring some day.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy their climbs to their first title shots. Lopez’s shot is coming in his next bout. I think Ortiz’s shot will come a year from now.

Who would I like to see him fight next? A fellow young gun like Jaron Ennis or Josh Kelly, or a mature spoiler like Jamal James or Ray Robinson would make for a very interesting and risky next step in Ortiz’s career. I don’t think Golden Boy will deliver that kind of matchup next, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they put him in with Sadam Ali or Eddie Gomez before the end of the year, which would be fine by me.

Adan Gonzales pulled off upset by beating two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Adan Gonzales pulled off an upset in beating two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

A couple of questions for you Doug: is this the upset of the year? Gonzalez over Ramirez? Nah. Upset of the Year frontrunner is still Andy Ruiz over Anthony Joshua in my opinion. I know Ramirez was a two-time gold medalist from the vaunted Cuban team, but the way I see it he was unproven in the pro ranks and I’m not automatically enamored with Olympians (even gold medalists) or Cuban boxers. Zou Shiming was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and while the Chinese star did win a flyweight world title, he wasn’t that good. And for every Yuriorkis Gamboa, Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux, there are 10 former amateur standouts from Cuba that didn’t pan out in the pro ranks.

Can you think of a bigger upset between an ex amateur star turned pro vs an unheralded blue caller pro? Good question. Gonzalez spoiling Ramirez’s pro debut is gonna be hard to top, but it’s not unheard of for former amateur standouts to get upset early in their pro development. Less than a month before Ramirez-Gonzalez, Alberto Melian, a two-time Olympian from Argentina (who owns an amateur victory over Robeisy Ramirez), was outworked and outpointed by Mexican club fighter Leonardo Baez (15-2) in his sixth pro bout.

We’ll see if Ramirez and Melian will learn from their recent setbacks. Some former amateur stars that suffer early career losses bounce back (as 2008 Olympian and Pan-Am/world amateur champion McWilliams Arroyo did after losing to Takashi Okada in his fourth pro bout) and some don’t (like 1992 Olympian Pepe Reilly who lost his fifth bout and never found his form in the pro ranks).

What do you think are the hardest parts of transitioning to the pro game for an elite amateur boxer aside from the extra rounds and lighter gloves? I’m not a trainer or a fighter but I think learning proper defense (head- and upper-body movement, slipping, parrying punches, etc.) and offensive technique (inside fighting, getting maximum leverage on punches) are the two main challenges of the professional transition. Both Ramirez and Melian stood straight up and only blocked punches with a high guard (when they weren’t doing so with their faces), no slipping, and both “winged” their shots – in other words, they threw a lot of wide, loopy punches.

 

DISAPPOINTED IN ANDY RUIZ

Hello Doug,

Ever since Andy Ruiz Jr. beat Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight title, I’ve been following The Destroyer on social media and waiting for the rematch to be announced. A few thoughts on this. First, Andy Ruiz Jr. told his mom that they weren’t going to suffer any more, that was one of the moments that made people fall in love with Andy, including me. Well, the first thing he does is goes and buys a Rolls Royce and second, he then goes out and buys a mansion.

Ok, all of that is good and all, but to me, if you really never want to struggle, you would stick to a normal lifestyle before you actually defend your title against the guy you beat and secure a few more fights that will pay you enough money to maintain property like that. Then we get the typical entourage talking in Andy’s ear, I can almost hear it: “Andy you’re better, ask for more money, they want to screw you, you’re worth more”. If I’m not mistaken, Andy’s dad said in an interview that his son deserved 50 million for the rematch. Well yes, he deserves whatever he thinks, but fact is they signed a contract that already included terms for the rematch! You have to honor that deal! These guys gave you the opportunity of a lifetime and now, with the first sign of money, you become greedy and all that charm, grace and humility goes down the drain!

Very disappointing behavior by Ruiz’s side. Now, of course, I don’t know all the terms, haven’t read the actual contract and am basing all this ranting on interviews and information I’ve seen on the internet. But logic tells me, Eddie Hearn protected his fighter with logical rematch clauses and terms. Can you elaborate on this Doug? I just hate how promotional companies, egos, greed and money, block fights from happening. I’m not going to say that Al Haymon is doing this to try to make Wilder-Ruiz (didn’t they just cancel the Wilder-Ortiz rematch?), but …well I think I already said it. I just hope they just do the fight, and move on. Ruiz has the potential of being a superstar and I really think he can win the rematch. I favor him, specially if they do it immediately.  Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Many fans, media and boxing insiders also favor Ruiz in the immediate rematch, but if Ruiz’s posturing delays the fight (more than it already has been), it won’t help his chances. I don’t blame Team Ruiz for wanting more money (even though he’ll be paid a career high for the return bout) or for not wanting to fight in Saudi Arabia, but the reality of the situation is that his shot at Joshua was a stroke of luck (a combination of Jarrell Miller being a dumbass and Eddie Hearn wanting a solid opponent for AJ’s U.S. debut) and he wasn’t in a position to haggle over deal points of the rematch clause. He had to accept the contract (which was more than fair) that Hearn offered him. Now, that the first fight is over and the rematch clause enacted does he have to honor it? Not really. He can tell Hearn and Joshua to f__k themselves. But he’ll get sued and he’ll likely be stripped of his three world titles (although you never know with the sanctioning bodies, they might look to do some business with Haymon). Just one editor’s opinion: the boxing business is money motivated and ego driven. If Ruiz can get some extra money by dragging his feet with this rematch, good for him. If the PBC can find an alternative site that offers as much money or more than Saudi Arabia, well, more power to them and I’d be all for that (because I’m not gonna travel to the middle east). However, if neither side budges by the end of this month, I think it would behoove Ruiz to go along with Hearn’s deal and switch his focus 100% to his training camp and preparing for a more motivated version of Joshua. I think Ruiz will need a 10-week camp to be at his best.

Andy Ruiz Jr. told his mom that they weren’t going to suffer any more, that was one of the moments that made people fall in love with Andy, including me. Well, the first thing he does is goes and buys a Rolls Royce and second, he then goes out and buys a mansion. I have no idea if he paid for the new car or not, but my hunch is that it was a gift, either from the dealership, Haymon or somebody else connected with Ruiz’s management. The mansion is another story.

Ok, all of that is good and all, but to me, if you really never want to struggle, you would stick to a normal lifestyle before you actually defend your title against the guy you beat and secure a few more fights that will pay you enough money to maintain property like that. Of course, you’re going to think like that. You’re a boring-ass school teacher, Juan! LOL. Andy’s a f__king fighter. Some are as rational as you, or even more so, but most are impetuous by nature. They don’t think about tomorrow. S__t, most pro athletes are like that.

Then we get the typical entourage talking in Andy’s ear, I can almost hear it: “Andy you’re better, ask for more money, they want to screw you, you’re worth more”. Hey, that’s just boxing, bro. It’s always been like that and it always will be.

 

 

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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Eddie Hearn on Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua 2: ‘Both fighters have signed’

At a press conference inside the Savoy hotel in London, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn and Omar Khalil, Managing Partner of Skill Challenge Entertainment in Saudi Arabia confirmed that the eagerly anticipated rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua will indeed take place at an outdoor stadium in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on December 7.

The 12-round bout will be carried by Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K. and will have an approximate start time of 9.00 p.m GMT. There was no mention of U.S. television availability during the press conference and traditional DAZN insignia did not appear on any of the poster artwork.

There were also rumors that Ruiz, the reigning IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titleholder, was not yet on board with the rematch, however, Hearn assured the assembled media that this was merely “talk.”

“Both fighters have signed for this fight,” said the Matchroom promoter, prior to waxing lyrical about Saudi Arabia’s vision for the Ruiz-Joshua sequel. Khalil echoed Hearn’s sentiments, stating that the country’s “appetite for such events is huge.”

Ruiz’s destruction of the previously unbeaten Joshua on June 1 is almost nailed-on for 2019 upset of the year. The 29-year-old stepped in at five weeks’ notice after original opponent Jarrell Miller tested positive for a three-ingredient cocktail of performance enhancing drugs. Ruiz (33-1, 22 knockouts) capitalized in style, flooring Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) four times en route to a sensational seventh-round stoppage.

Official press conferences for Ruiz-Joshua 2 will take place in Saudi Arabia, New York and London in the first week of September.

Ruiz is rated No. 3 by The Ring at heavyweight and Joshua is rated No. 4.

 

Tom Gray is Associate Editor for The Ring. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

 

 

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Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua 2 set for December 7 in Saudi Arabia

Negotiations went back and forth for a suitable locale.

Andy Ruiz Jr. and his team threw in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Mexico. Anthony Joshua and his retinue countered with New York, England and Wales. Nobody could agree, and the last we heard was that the heavyweight rematch would be hosted on neutral ground.

Well, that’s exactly what we got.

Ruiz will defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Joshua in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 7. Sources say the brain trust behind this event will put up $100 million – beating out main rival Dubai – to stage one of the biggest glamour division showdowns in years.

 

On June 1, Ruiz, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at heavyweight, got off the canvas to floor Joshua four times en route to a sensational seventh-round stoppage. It was a colossal upset, but the previously unbeaten Brit had a rematch clause in place and he has elected to exercise it immediately.

News that the rematch is heading to the middle east is likely to be met with high levels of derision from fight fans. However, money makes the world go round and the winning bid is a clear indication of just how big this return fight is.

Will Ruiz repeat his epic triumph? Will Joshua gain revenge? There’s a long time to wait, but we have a date and we have a location.

The bout will be officially announced soon.

The bout will be carried by DAZN in the U.S. and Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K.

 

Tom Gray is Associate Editor for The Ring. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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