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Anthony Joshua has to silence his biggest critic: Himself

Baker Geist Updated
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“We had an opening, but we hired someone else.”

(Top left images above courtesy of GQ UK)

In 2016, those words — delivered just minutes after I was perusing my phone looking at Boxing Monthly magazine issues wondering, ‘who is Anthony Joshua?’ — hit me like a left hook to the liver. I was passed on for a job after doing everything I could to prove worthy of an opportunity.

No, getting passed on for a job is not like losing the heavyweight championship, but it was just as damaging to my confidence as a writer. Was I even ever good at this? Am I just wasting my time? Do I want to chase this anymore? What’s the point?

For the next couple months, I had to push myself forward and regain confidence by looking at how and where I could improve. I eventually found my place in a much better job, found FightSaga and here I am.

In less than a week, Anthony Joshua will have a chance to regain the unified heavyweight championship when he faces Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia. It should be the most challenging and important fight of his career.

A Joshua victory depends on more than just excellent boxing skill keeping the shorter more elusive Ruiz on the outside of a jab.

Anthony Joshua certainly has the skills to be competitive and win the fight, but does he have the confidence? 

No one can question his desire. He clearly wants the victory in part to set up a mega fight with Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury. Additionally, he wants to erase any belief that his skills are diminished or that boxing has taken a back seat to his massive popularity in the United Kingdom.

Anger and desire are certainly great motivators, but they alone are not enough to win a meaningful boxing match especially against a calm, quick-fisted and reportedly slimmer champion in Ruiz. 

Whether it was a lack of conditioning, lack of preparation or simply being beaten by a better fighter, Joshua will have needed to address his shortcomings in training in order to be successful in the rematch.

Joshua is reportedly brushing off of his loss saying: “one loss doesn’t take the spots off of a cheetah.” 

aj ruiz post fight

That’s concerning.

He was stopped by a heavy underdog and a last-second replacement for Jarrell Miller. Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), didn’t land a lucky punch to cause the stoppage. Instead, effective aggression and skillful boxing left Joshua winded, dazed, confused and ultimately unable to continue.

Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), will also have to push out any doubt that comes into his head if Ruiz wins a round or lands a good combination. He can’t panic, get frustrated and start winging wild shots, disregarding strategy. Yes, this is heavyweight boxing, and one punch can end a fight, but Ruiz not only can take a punch, he’s also elusive enough to avoid a fair number of them.

Joshua would be wise to forget about telling off critics after the fight and focus his energy on doing everything he can do to beat Ruiz and once again become WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight champion.

There are fundamental reasons why Ruiz upset Joshua, and if Joshua’s mindset hasn’t allowed him to address those and correct them, expect history to repeat itself.


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