LOS ANGELES – It’ll be another blockbuster sequel for former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua when the British boxer looks to exact revenge against Oleksandr Usyk on Aug. 20 at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia.
Joshua lost his heavyweight titles to Usyk in September via unanimous decision in just his second career defeat.
Joshua went into the fight riding a two-fight winning streak against Kubrat Pulev and Andy Ruiz Jr. In 2019, Joshua was shocked and dropped four times in his United States debut and was eventually stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr.
After losing his heavyweight titles, a motivated Joshua beat an out-of-shape Ruiz in a rematch just six months later, and now, he’ll look to return to the middle east and repeat the same script against Usyk.
But not so fast, if you ask Ruiz.
“If Usyk doesn't do the same thing that I did, then he's going to win the fight,” Ruiz told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “I had all of the tools to beat Anthony Joshua, but things happened so fast. I was here, I was over there, and I didn't focus on what I was supposed to do. But Usyk is different. He's ready. He's more disciplined. He's already been a world champion before. He's been super famous. It's going to be a tough fight for both of them.”
The former heavyweight champion Ruiz is preparing to take a serious test of his own when he faces off against heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz on Sept. 4 in a FOX pay-per-view main event at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Ruiz will be using the services of a third different head trainer in his last three fights.
Joshua recently parted ways with longtime coach Rob McCracken, and after considering touted trainers like Eddy Reynoso, Ronnie Shields, and Virgil Hunter, Joshua eventually formed a union with Robert Garcia.
Ruiz, the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent, says that it’s beneficial for Joshua to employ the services of a Mexican coach.
“I think that was a good move as well. Sometimes we have to learn from different trainers. Every trainer that we have, we learn new things and it becomes muscle memory,” said Ruiz. “I think he needed a Mexican trainer to make him aggressive. I think he needed that aggressiveness against Usyk. He's the bigger guy. He's the stronger guy.”
If Ruiz’s master plan goes according to plan, he’d like to fight Joshua in a third bout.
“If I beat Ortiz and don't fight Deontay Wilder next and Joshua beats Usyk, I would love to do the trilogy,” he said. “It'll be a lot of fireworks.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.