Anthony Joshua: Is History Repeating?
Now that fight week is upon us, all eyes are on the high steaks rematch between Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz Jr (33-1, 22 KO’s) and Anthony “AJ” Joshua (22-1, 21 KO’s).
On the surface both men appear to be ready for battle. Each are saying all the things expected of them and both are exuding an air of calm and preparedness. The question remains though: “is this their reality or just a good front for the cameras?”
A UK based media source has Joshua on record insisting that December 7 will merely be another day in the office. Not only this, AJ has consistently stated that the bulk of the pressure has been removed from his shoulders and placed on Ruiz. While it sounds good, one must ask if that is actually the case.
“This has been six months of letting Andy Ruiz take all that pressure. You’ve seen all the stuff he’s had to deal with; we’ve been dealing with that for 10 years now and it’s a breath of fresh air.”
A DANGEROUS DÉJÀ VU?
In many respects, this rematch bears a strikingly similar resemblance to the premiere clash. The only significant difference is there has been no last minute replacement…and of course, AJ took his first professional loss.
Aside from the loss and the opponent remaining the same, quite a few items are eerily similar.
Joshua is fighting in a new land for the first time, potentially distracting big fights still loom in the background and WBC champion Deontay Wilder has just scored another highlight reel knockout just before his bout.
Following his four knockdown undressing in their first prizefight, Joshua made quite a fuss over how these items helped to splinter his concentration.
Obviously, being forced to talk about his future intentions and the activities of the Bronze Bomber was a draining exercise for him. Again, why should we believe that these mental ghosts will not haunt him anew?
One major difference between the first fight and the rematch appears to be the training camps. This goes for both fighters. In Ruiz’s case, he simply has had the chance to stage a full and proper camp.
Being brought in last minute for the first bout made this an impossibility. While Joshua had a typical camp in terms of duration it was rife with rumors and controversy.
It was widely believed that AJ was getting roughed up in his previous camp and it was even said that he suffered a concussion. Naturally, Team Joshua denied all of these allegations, but facial bruises and his subsequent performance suggested otherwise.
Heading into this fistic rodeo the UK phenomenon has raved about his fantastic sparring partners and his tranquil mind state. Although, his talking points in regard to his sparring has inspired some head scratching.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
In somewhat surprising fashion, Joshua has really doubled down on his insistence that he is only now getting extraordinary sparring. This is rather quizzical because he has never complained about this in the past.
Nevertheless, the former champion believes that now that he has a blemish on his record more fighters are willing to come and give their all in camp.
“It’s almost good that I lost because all of the sparring partners are coming out of the woodwork now. No-one wanted to spar me before.”
Truthfully, it seems rather far-fetched that it’s only now that fighters are willing to come align themselves with one of the biggest, most prominent names in the sport.
The seemingly oddball commentary has caused many to speculate that there are still lingering mental hang-ups cluttering Joshua’s psyche. Yet, just like the first bout, at the moment it’s all just educated guessing.
Thankfully, the time for waiting is almost at an end! For better or worse the world will witness first hand if Joshua is a rebuilt beast or a truly mentally flawed fighter.
“One loss can’t strip your skin off overnight. When you put your solid foundations in, one chip in the brick can’t destroy the whole building.
“But people know I’m not soft and I don’t need people to pat me on the back. When I lost, I didn’t hit the bag in anger. The red mist didn’t come over me, I just got smarter.”
By: Bakari Simpson